BY Rob Witham
A lonely fifth inning single to left field. That’s all that separated Randolph-Macon’s pitching staff from turning a historic win into one for the ages.
Colin Selby struck out eight batters while allowing just the one hit, while Michael Zubovich, Matthew Nickles and Christian Cok each through one hitless inning as Randolph-Macon completed a two-game sweep of Alvernia College Sunday afternoon with a 10-0 victory to move the Yellow Jackets to 5-0 on the young season.
The victory was career win number 300 for head coach Ray Hedrick, now in his fourteenth season at the helm at Randolph-Macon. Win #299, on Saturday, was a hard fought 5-2 win as the eighteenth-ranked Yellow Jackets used all facets of the game to get the first win over the #16 ranked Golden Wolves.
After a brief rain delay, starter Nick Roth III held Alvernia scoreless through the first three innings. The Yellow Jackets took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third on a Cole Migliorini sacrifice fly to center field to score Ryan Duphorn, who walked, advanced to second on a sacrifice, then moved to third on a wild pitch.
The Golden Wolves responded with a run each in the fourth and fifth to take a 2-1 advantage. But the bottom of the fifth belonged to Randolph-Macon. Duphorn singled to start the frame, then Jeff Butler was hit by a pitch to bring up Migliorini, who launched a deep fly that hit the wall in center field. Base runners had to wait to make sure the ball fell in play, so while Duphorn had time to score, Butler was stopped at third.
Rick Spiers’ sacrifice fly to center brought Butler home, and with Migliorini on third, first baseman Joseph Tuzzolo blasted a shot deep over the right field fence for his second home run of the year, a two-run shot to complete a four-run inning.
Hedrick handed the ball to Atlee graduate Cody Thompson, and the senior responded with four solid innings of relief to earn the save. Thompson scattered three hits, striking out seven.
“I think you’re going to look up at the end of the year and that team is going to be making a push for the College World Series,” Hedrick said of the Golden Wolves. “They’re that good, that talented, and that deep. They’re going to give a lot of teams a hard time. To end up on the right side of the win column is big for us.”
Thompson started the sixth by allowing back to back singles, but followed with two strikeouts surrounding a pop out to Butler at second. Alvernia managed a runner in the eighth and ninth, but Thompson’s slider began to bite, hard, and the Golden Wolves had issues catching up to him.
“The big hero today was Reece Yeargain,” Hedrick noted after the game. The sophomore catcher out of nearby Benedcitine was masterful in catching Thompson’s slider that, on most occasions, forced Yeargain into making blocks to avoid wild pitches. “If Reece can’t block that pitch, Cody doesn’t have the confidence to throw that pitch. Reece’s ability behind the plate, his toughness and his grit to put his nose on the baseball, that makes all the difference in the world.”
Sunday’s 10-0 win seemed pedestrian by comparison, a surprising outcome thanks to dominant pitching, and some hot hitting, led by sophomore Shawn Nickles, who had three hits and a walk, scoring four runs. Yeargain had two hits, and collected three RBI’s.
Selby continued his strong season start on the mound. The junior has pitched eleven innings so far in 2018, and has only allowed one hit and two walks while striking out nineteen opponents, currently tops among Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) pitchers.
The Yellow Jackets welcome another 2017 NCAA Tournament team to Ashland this weekend when they host Rowan University from Glassboro, New Jersey for a three-game series. The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday at 12pm and a single game on Sunday, also at noon at Hugh Stephens Field at Estes Park.