Marcelle leads 21-hit attack as Hornets top Royals

WINCHESTER – Shenandoah University’s baseball team got an uneven pitching performance in its Old Dominion Athletic Conference matchup against visiting Eastern Mennonite University Wednesday afternoon, but the Hornets’ offense more than made up for those flaws on the mound.

The Hornets, ranked No. 1 in the latest D3baseball.com/NCBWA Top 25 for the fifth week in a row, erupted for 21 hits and scored at least one run in seven different innings as they rolled to a 17-10 victory at Bridgeforth Field.

All nine starters for SU tallied at least one hit in the win – seven Hornets recorded multiple hits – and eight of those players finished with at least one RBI.

“Really proud of the way the guys have made adjustments at the plate,” said SU head coach Kevin Anderson, whose team improved to 29-3 overall and 12-3 in the ODAC. “That’s a credit to them being coachable, to listening to Coach (Bruce) Cameron making suggestions, watching video and then applying it to the game. We had not been swinging the bat well lately and today hopefully that’s a good breakout day for us.”

Sophomore shortstop Robbie Marcelle, who has worked his way into more consistent playing time in the last week, shined brightest in a Hornet lineup that smashed six extra-base hits. Marcelle, batting ninth on Wednesday, accounted for three of those extra-base hits as he went 4-for-4 with a home run, two triples, six RBIs and three runs scored.

“I was just nice and relaxed, trying to keep my hands relaxed,” said Marcelle, who is batting .588 (10-for-17) over his last six games. “Usually sometimes I’ll feel myself where I’ll get tightened up and that’s where things can go wrong. But when I’m nice and tall and relaxed, I can hit the ball, line drives, so that’s all I try to do.”

Tristan Baker (3-for-5, two RBIs), Luke Nussman (3-for-4, three runs), Jake Loew (3-for-5, triple, two RBIs), Dan Cameron (2-for-5, two RBIs), Nick Goode (2-for-5) and Neil Dutton (2-for-4, double, two RBIs) joined Marcelle with multi-hit efforts in the win.

The Hornets scored single runs in the first, third, and fifth innings, two runs each in the sixth and eighth and five runs in both the second and seventh innings off six different EMU (17-17, 4-11) pitchers.

“We’ve been working a lot at it,” Cameron, the Hornets’ starting catcher, said, “and especially being a senior it’s pretty cool to see throughout the years how things have progressed, and this team works really hard. The way we come to practice every day with a different goal and a different idea and a different focus is really what’s helping our offense explode. When we have bad days we come back and realize what we did wrong.”

Shenandoah broke open a 1-1 game in the second inning with six hits to quickly chase EMU starter Bailey Hall – who took the loss while lasting just 1 1/3 innings – from the ballgame.

An RBI triple from Marcelle started a string of five consecutive hits off Hall, a streak that included RBI singles from Baker and Cameron and Loew’s two-run triple to right-center.

SU added another run in the third on Baker’s second RBI single – which came on the heels of Marcelle’s second triple in as many at-bats – to take a 7-1 lead.

“Up and down the lineup I think today we were just consistent,” said Nussman, who extended his hit streak to 15 games while raising his ODAC-best batting average to .469. “Once we get our front side down and level our swings like Coach always preaches to us, we’re pretty dangerous at the plate.”

The Royals, who finished with eight hits in the loss, fired back with five runs in the top of the fourth inning to hand SU starting pitcher Reeves Lowry his own early exit, but the Hornets pushed their lead to nine with seven runs combined in the sixth and seventh innings.

Marcelle drove in a pair of runs in the sixth on a long single to center with the bases loaded on a ball that glanced off the glove of center fielder Griffin Stanley near the warning track, and launched his first collegiate homer in the seventh, a three-run blast to left that gave Shenandoah a 15-6 lead.

The Hornets added two more runs in the eighth on Dutton’s two-run double to cap the game’s scoring.

SU’s pitching staff wasn’t nearly as consistent as its offense in the win. Lowry, a freshman making his third career start, lasted just 3 1/3 innings and was charged with five earned runs on three hits, a walk, three hit batters and five strikeouts. He also served up a pair of home runs to EMU’s Kyle Mathews, one of three Royals – along with Joe Hall and Zach Roberts – to finish the day with two hits and three RBIs.

Senior Nate Loman tossed just a third of an inning – during which he surrendered an earned run on two hits and a walk – for SU before giving way to senior right-hander Steve Jones, who supplied the needed stopping power for the Hornets on the mound.

Jones allowed just one baserunner over 3 1/3 hitless innings while striking out two to pick up his first win of the season.

“To have Steve come in there and really just kind of shut it down was impressive, and important to the game,” Cameron said.

“Today his changeup was working real well and his fastball had a little giddy-up on it, which was also impressive. He threw well today.”

Matt Burns was tagged for four unearned runs in just two-thirds of an inning for SU. Senior Tyler Hott entered the game with the score 15-10 with two outs in the eighth and retired all four batters he faced. Hott struck out the side in the ninth.

Shenandoah returns to action on Saturday in a pivotal doubleheader at Randolph-Macon. The Yellow Jackets, ranked 11th in the D3baseball.com poll, are just a half-game behind Shenandoah for second place in the ODAC.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com