By Cody Shook, Sports Editor
This weekend, the baseball team will travel to take on the Shepherd University Rams in a battle between two of the top teams in the Mountain East Conference. Last weekend, West Liberty won three out of four games against Urbana University to get the series win and two of the wins came in a walk-off fashion.
The Hilltoppers come into this weekend with a 22-11 overall record and a 16-4 record in conference play. The Rams have the exact same 16-4 record in conference play this season, but because their overall record is 20-17, the Hilltoppers are technically in first place.
This will be the first time since the 2014 season that the Hilltoppers will have to travel to Shepherdstown, W.Va. and in that four game series, West Liberty dropped three out of four games to the Rams.
In the 2015 season, they each won two games to get the series split, and in the 2016 season, the Rams won three out of four games to get the series win. There’s more than just bad blood between these two teams; Shepherd has been the top dog of the MEC for the past few years, but the Hilltoppers are having an incredible season. They think that things will be very different this time around.
The Hilltoppers are batting an incredible .314 at the plate with a .394 on-base percentage. Junior third baseman Nolan Marcus and senior designated hitter Mike Adams are leading the team with an incredible .451 on-base percentage. The pitchers are continuing their stellar performances by posting a Mountain East Conference best 4.48 earned run average. The four starters, Sean Pare, Justin Retzer, Greg Stagani and Yale Hughes, all have earned run averages in the top 10 in the Mountain East Conference.
The Rams can hit the baseball like no other team in the Mountain East Conference. They don’t just get on base with singles and doubles; a big part of their game is the long ball. They have more than double the amount of homeruns than any other team in the conference with 52 in 37 games. Only 12 of their homeruns have come at home, so the Hilltoppers will surely try to keep the ball away from the Rams.
The games on Saturday and Sunday are scheduled for 1 and 3 p.m. start times in Shepherdstown, W.Va.
After this weekend, there will only be two weeks left in the regular season, so that makes this upcoming weekend one of the most important of the year.
Be sure to follow the Toppers all season long on Twitter, and for more information on the baseball team, go here.
Photo credit: Hilltoppersports.com