In a matter of two days, the Shippensburg University baseball team may have flipped the script on its entire 2020 season.
After 0-3 weekends in each of their first two series of the season, the Raiders (4-6) swept Queens (N.Y.) College (2-4) in resounding fashion on Saturday and Sunday in New Jersey.
And as if the weekend was not already momentous enough, SU coach Matt Jones picked up his 500th career win in the Game 4 victory.
SU outlasted the Knights in a 19-14 slugfest in Game 1 before handily taking the final three games of the series by scores of 10-0, 6-2 and 11-2.
"Both of our [first two] opponents [of the season] played really well and helped us figure out some things we needed to work on," Jones said.
Junior Ben Werkheiser and sophomore Tony Vavaroutsos stood out in the offensive eruption. Werkheiser went 7-for-14 at the plate with two homers, nine RBIs and three runs scored. The catcher inflicted most of his damage in Game 1 of the series, in which he went 4-for-6 with two homers and drove in seven runs.
Vavaroutsos went 6-for-11 in the series, including three home runs, seven RBIs and seven runs scored.
Despite only starting three of the four games, junior Logan Williamson notched six hits on the weekend — four of which were doubles — and scored five runs.
Graduate student Zack Zoller picked up eight hits — including two homers in Game 4 — and crossed the plate nine times.
After the Game 1 barnburner, the SU pitching staff settled down and held the Knights in check. Senior Kyle Lysy threw a complete-game shutout in Game 2, scattering five hits and striking out seven in seven innings of work.
The Raiders then got solid efforts out of its Sunday starters as well. Redshirt sophomore Kiernan Higgins threw six innings of one-run ball in the Game 3 win, allowing just four hits and striking out two. The win was the first of Higgins’ SU career.
In Game 4, junior Chris Horst pitched five scoreless innings in his first collegiate start. He struck out three and allowed just two hits.
"We didn't really change anything, we just executed better," Jones said of the marked improvement by the pitching staff. "Pitch counts stayed down, so the starters were able to extend their outings."
For Jones, the milestone win comes in his 14th season at the helm at Shippensburg. He has compiled a 352-339-1 record in his SU coaching career, leading the Raiders to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Tournament nine times.
Previously, he picked up the first 148 wins of his career at Elizabethtown College in seven seasons leading the Blue Jays.
Shippensburg will look to keep rolling when it hosts a three-game set against Le Moyne College on Saturday at Fairchild field. First pitched is scheduled for noon.
"We just need to stay focused on us and on improving from week to week," Jones said. "Our guys work really hard and like to play for each other. It will be exciting to see the progress."