Sheppard Picks up 400th Career Win in 4-3 Victory over XavierDate: April 13, 2018
(Photo: SHU Athletics)
By: Chris Russo
On a day where the weather finally felt like spring, Seton Hall baseball came into full bloom with a tremendous 4-3 victory over the Xavier Musketeers.
It was a day where everything fell perfectly into place for the Pirates. First off, it was the first Big East game and victory for the Pirates this season. Secondly, it was the first real day of spring, with a beautiful 79-degree high. Lastly, on a more personal level, it was the 82nd birthday of Seton Hall's winningest all-time baseball coach, Mike Sheppard, Sr.
On his father's birthday, Seton Hall head coach Rob Sheppard would reach a milestone, collecting his 400th career victory.
The game started on Xavier's side. After some solid pitching from both sides in the first inning, Xavier pushed the first run across in the second after Allbry Major reached on an error, went to second after Shane McCarthy threw away his fifth consecutive pickoff attempt, and moved up on consecutive grounders.
The Hall countered with a small ball inning of its own, as Ryan Ramiz came across to tie the game in the bottom half of the frame. Ramiz walked before moving up two bases on a single and a fielding error, and came home on a balk by Xavier's Damien Richard. Rob Dadona then gave SHU the lead by beating out a potential double play grounder at first base, allowing a runner to score from third with two outs.
Xavier took that lead away almost immediately. McCarthy surrendered the Musketeers' biggest blow of the day, a two-run home run off the bat of Joe Gellenbeck, in the third inning. However, that was the last of the damage he would allow in the ballgame.
McCarthy would go on to record the victory by going six innings and allowing three runs, and only two earned, on six hits, with only one walk, and five strikeouts. McCarthy lowered his season ERA from 6.00 to 5.50, and Coach Rob Sheppard praised his senior's effort.
"What you saw today was just classic Shane McCarthy," Sheppard said. "He guts it out, he battles all the way through, he gives you a quality start every time."
The game was a stalemate until the Pirates rallied in the bottom of the fifth. Xavier coach Billy O'Conner took the ball from Richard after a wild pitch sailed 10 feet over the head of catcher Natale Monastra and put runners on second and third. Tyler Shedler-McAvoy then recorded the hit of the game, a two-run triple off the reliever Major.
"[Major] came with curveball after curveball," Shedler-McAvoy said. "I was just sitting [on a] dead red curveball, knew he was coming back with it."
Corey Sawyer was solid in two innings of relief, and Matt Leon retired the side in order in the ninth as the Pirates cruised to their first conference victory, and jumped over .500 at 13-12-1.
The postgame celebration was extra special, as the team gathered around the entire Sheppard family with its patriarch's birthday cake.
SHU has a doubleheader with Xavier on Saturday at Owen T. Carroll Field, with the first pitch of game one set for 1 p.m. Catch all the action on 89.5 FM WSOU.
Chris Russo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.