WASHINGTON, D.C. – For the first time since 1997 the Gallaudet University baseball team celebrated a Capital Athletic Conference victory. Gallaudet defeated Stevenson University 5-3 in the first game of a seven-inning doubleheader on a sunny and clear Thursday afternoon at Hoy Field. The Bison (1-21, 1-15 CAC) nearly won the second game but lost 3-2 to the Mustangs (14-8, 8-7).
"I am really proud of my guys. This is a great win for our program," said GU coach Curtis Pride, in his second season at the helm. "This win shows our players that they can compete with anybody in the conference. This is a great confidence builder for us."
The last time GU won a CAC game was on March 30, 1997 when the Bison beat St. Mary's (Md.) College 4-1. Since the start of the 1998 season until today the Bison were 0-150 in CAC regular-season games. The number increases slightly when you factor in CAC tournament games over the years. Ironically the win happened on "April Fool’s Day" but for the Bison and their beloved fans the final score was no joke.
"This win is for all of the previous Gallaudet baseball teams that never won a CAC game in the past," said GU captain Jeremy Shepps.
Shepps, a sophomore from Mechanicsburg, Pa., was the star for the Bison in the first game as he pitched the complete game and hit two extra-base hits and scored the eventual game-winning run in the third inning. Shepps (1-6) hurled seven innings where he allowed three runs on four hits, walked one and struck out three Mustangs. He went 2-for-3 at the plate as he hit a RBI double in the third inning and a triple in the fifth as he scored on the same hit thanks to a Stevenson error to place Gallaudet up 5-1.
"This was probably one of the best games I have ever pitched. I was able to hit all of my spots," said Shepps. "Coach was very proud of us after the game. He wishes we played like that every game because we would have a lot more wins."
This is Gallaudet's first win of the season to end a 20-game losing streak after the Bison ended last season on a six-game winning streak.
To place this win in perspective a large majority of the 2010 Bison team was in grade school and Coach Pride was in his fourth Major League Baseball season in 1997. Gallaudet has won four conference games total as the other victories came in 1992 and '91, the first year the CAC began baseball. Currently, Gallaudet has a 4-212 (.018) CAC regular-season record in 20 seasons.
Gallaudet served as the visiting team in both games because this doubleheader was originally scheduled to be on the road against Stevenson on March 12 in Aberdeen, Md.
The Bison jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first game as Gallaudet pushed across two runners in the top of the second inning. Sophomore Ryan Hastings (Cherry Valley, Mass.) led off with a single and freshman Yuri Johnston (Greensboro, N.C.) reached on a Mustang fielding error. A second Stevenson error loaded the bases up for junior outfielder Chester Kuschmider (Olathe, Kan.) who drove in Hastings and Johnston on a two-run single to left field.
GU added to its lead in the third inning as freshman shortstop Tommy Barksdale (Brookeville, Md.) led off with a single and promptly scored on Shepps’ double to left. Two batters later, junior second baseman Kyle Kuschmider (Olathe, Kan.) flew out to center field but it was deep enough to bring home Shepps, who tagged up after the fly out. The run gave the Bison a 4-0 advantage through three innings.
Stevenson got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning as first baseman Justin Anderson jacked a home run to right field off Shepps. Anderson's home run was the first hit Shepps had surrendered in the game.
In the top of the fifth inning, Shepps stepped to the plate with one out. The right-handed batter ripped a shot to deep right field but the ball didn’t leave the park. Shepps hustled around to third base and scored on a throwing error by the Mustangs.
Stevenson responded with two runs to start the sixth inning but Shepps induced a double play to get out of the inning up 5-3. The Mustangs went quietly in the bottom of the seventh as Shepps got two ground-outs and a strikeout to end the game. The last play was a ground-out to Barksdale at shortstop. His throw over to Hastings was the final out which set off a frenzy celebration by the Bison as a 13-year burden had been lifted. Stevenson pitcher Johnny Jackson (1-2) took the loss as he pitched the complete game where he allowed five runs (two earned) off six hits, one walk and struck out seven Bison.
Gallaudet only had a few minutes to compose itself for the second game of the doubleheader.
The second game began like the first as Gallaudet manufactured a run in the top of the second inning to take an early 1-0 lead against Stevenson. Hastings led off the inning by getting plunked by Mustang starting pitcher Brandon Krochune (4-1). Hastings moved up on a walk to Johnston and then a Krochune wild pitch. Kyle Kuschmider grounded out to first base but it was enough to score Hastings. GU ran itself out of the inning as Johnston got gunned down trying to swipe third base.
Stevenson scored two runs off Hastings (0-6), the starter for the second game, in the bottom of the third inning. The Mustangs led off with a single and then a GU throwing error placed runners on second and third base with no outs. A sacrifice fly and a single brought home the two runners and gave Stevenson the 2-1 lead.
The score remained the same until the top of the sixth inning as Gallaudet rallied to knot the game at 2-2. First baseman Arthur Hess (North Bellmore, N.Y.) led off with a walk against Krochune. With one out Barksdale singled to move Hess to third base but on the same play Barksdale was thrown out at first after he made a wide turn at the bag. Shepps followed with a ground-rule double down the right field line to score Hess and tie the game.
GU’s momentum was quickly erased in the bottom half of the inning as Anderson led off the frame with a high and booming home run down the right field line to give the Mustangs the 3-2 lead. Stevenson closer Patrick Quinn came in to close the door on Bison in the seventh to earn his fourth save of the season.
The left-handed Hastings pitched six innings where he allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits, two walks and four strikeouts. Krochune finished with six and a third innings pitched where he surrendered two runs off three hits, walked three and struck out one.
The Bison will complete their CAC regular-season schedule on Saturday, April 3, as Gallaudet welcomes York (Pa.) College to Hoy Field for a doubleheader that will begin at 1 p.m.