The best medicine for a doubleheader loss is a doubleheader sweep. Sweeping in commanding fashion is even better.
After falling Saturday at Lynchburg by both a blowout and a heartbreaker, Randolph-Macon baseball bounced back in a big way Sunday afternoon at Hugh Stephens Field, sweeping Roanoke by scores of 9-5 and 20-1. By doing so, the Yellow Jackets improved to 10-5 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), matching their conference victory total of a year ago.
The performance was made all the more impressive considering 24 hours earlier, Randolph-Macon had lost 16-0, then, held a 6-2 lead late before Lynchburg scored five runs to sweep the Jackets with a 7-6 win.
“We may have used some players differently in the first game Saturday, but that’s on me,” Randolph-Macon head coach Ray Hedrick said. “They’re certainly not 16-0 better than us. In game two, our starter (Matt Fischgrund) got tender in the sixth and had to come out, putting (reliever Jake) Bram in a tight spot.”
Coming to the ballpark Sunday to face the Maroons, led by former Yellow Jackets assistant Matt McGuire, Randolph-Macon followed a simple formula to prepare.
“Our whole team is a bunch of gamers,” noted Yellow Jackets sophomore catcher Nicholas Maiolo. “After a loss like Lynchburg, you have to flush it. You find what you need to improve upon, then you have to flush it. You can’t dwell back on that.”
Macon wasted no time dwelling. After yielding two Maroons runs in the second, the Jackets scored three of their own to take the lead. When Roanoke tied the game in the fourth, they promptly came to bat and plated five of their own, led by Maiolo’s bases-clearing double to right center, scoring Travis Lodge, Nate Meiners and Mitch Keeler (Atlee). Maiolo later scored when Roanoke left fielder Gavin Pellitteri dropped a third-out fly ball.
Roanoke scored two in the seventh off reliever Austin Goyne but got no closer. Daniel Byrd improved to 4-2 scattering 12 hits over six innings.
The game two scoreboard tells the story of the offensive barrage of Randolph-Macon, as 10 Yellow Jackets had multi-hit games. But the untold story was the pitching performance of senior left-hander Jamie Hendrick. In five innings, Hendrick allowed the lone Maroons run, six hits, and struck out four.
“We have looked to Jamie for two really big starts this week, and guys lean on him as a senior to go out there and keep us in a ballgame, be competitive,” Hedrick said of Hendrick, who leads the Jackets in wins with five, and innings pitched with 37. Hendrick pitched seven innings in Randolph-Macon’s 4-3 win over Hampden-Sydney April 2.
As for that offense, try three home runs, including back-to-back shots by Maiolo and Tim Benjamin in a five-run first inning, seven doubles and a triple. To add to the fun, Maiolo returned to the plate an inning later and sent another ball over the left field fence.
“To be honest, that’s my first game in my entire life I’ve ever hit two home runs in a game,” Maiolo said with a smile. “I don’t even know how to explain how I felt when I hit the second one. You just feel great.”
Patrick Henry graduate, sophomore Hunter Wilkinson, entered the game in the eighth, batting twice in that inning, getting two hits, an RBI and scoring one of the Jackets’ seven runs in that frame. In five plate appearances this season, Wilkinson has four hits.
The Yellow Jackets picked up a non-conference, 5-3 victory at Mary Washington Tuesday afternoon. Meiners, Keeler and Benjamin each had two hits while three relievers, led by Tanner Phillips, shut the Eagles down over the final five innings as Randolph-Macon improved to 16-11 overall. The Jackets welcome Christopher Newport Thursday for a 3:30 p.m. game. Randolph-Macon defeated the Captains in Newport News 14-11 Feb. 19.