Vandini, Gunn Stay Hot at the Plate
Issue   |   Wed, 04/16/2014 - 00:05
Rob Mattson
Dave Cunningham ’16 is batting .412 this season and has 4 RBI.

The Amherst baseball team went 3-1 on the week with a 6-5 win over MIT on Wednesday, April 9, two wins over Endicott on Saturday and a loss to Eastern Connecticut State on Monday, April 14. In their week off from NESCAC play, the Jeffs improved to 17-5 on the season.

Against the Engineers on April 9, the Jeffs struck first in the bottom of the second, as Eric West ’15, Anthony Spina ’17 and Tyler Jacobs ’15 each singled to load the bases for Andrew Vandini ’16. Vandini singled for the fourth straight hit of the inning, bringing in West to put the first run on the board. Later in the frame, Yanni Thanopolous ’17 added another hit that brought home Jacobs for a 2-0 lead.

However, MIT responded with a third-inning offensive attack to the tune of four runs. They tallied another in the fifth, increasing their lead to 5-2. In the bottom of the fifth though, the Jeffs were able to close the deficit as senior Alex Hero delivered a huge two-run homer to close the deficit and make the score 5-4.

Amherst tied it up in the bottom of the eighth when Spina scored from second on a single by Jacobs. After a scoreless ninth, the contest went to extra innings. Mike Odenwaelder ’16 entered in relief and held the Engineers scoreless — and hitless — in the final four innings while notching three strikeouts. His performance kept the Jeffs in a position to win, and, in the bottom of the 13th with a runner on third, Nic Meyer ’16 stepped to the plate. The sophomore surprised the defense by bunting, bringing in the game-winning run and capping a dramatic victory for the Jeffs.

Amherst followed this performance by sweeping Endicott in a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon. The Gulls scored first in the bottom of the fourth with a home run, and their starting pitcher JJ Branch appeared to be in command over the first five innings.

The Jeffs retaliated in the top of the sixth. Conner Gunn ’16 led off with a walk, advanced to second after a sacrifice bunt from Hero and scored on a double by Odenwaelder, who continued his all-around clutch play on the week. Jacobs was able to bring in Odenwaelder with a hit to left field. Amherst extended their lead to 3-1 in the top of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Taiki Kasuga ’14. Senior Dylan Driscoll pitched the full seven innings and limited the damage to Holmgren’s rome run, surrendering only six hits to go along with six strikeouts.

In game two, the Jeffs handled Endicott easily in a 12-0 victory, led by junior John Cook’s seven shutout innings and 11 strikeouts. Amherst put the game away early with seven runs in the first and two more in the fourth on a home run from Kasuga. Vandini spearheaded the offense, going 5-for-5 on the day, including an RBI and three runs. Gunn and Hero each went 3-for-5, and five other Jeffs chipped in for a team total of 19 hits.

On Monday, ECSU proved to be too much for the Jeffs, as they lost 18-5 victory to the regional powerhouse. After the Warriors scored a run in the top of the first, they put together an offensive onslaught, plating six runs in the second inning and nine in the top of the third.

Although the Warriors pulled ahead 16-0 after the first three innings, Amherst pitching limited the Warriors to two runs over the final six frames, and the Jeffs posted five runs in that span. Senior pitcher Robert Cahill stepped up nicely for Amherst in relief, as he went four strong innings, striking out five batters, walking none and surrendering just two runs .

On offense for Amherst, Vandini continued his hot hitting by going 2-for-4 with 4 RBIs, Odenwaelder hit a solo homer to center field and also added a second hit, and Dave Cunningham ’16 put together a strong offensive showing with two hits and two runs scored.

The Jeffs square off against Castleton State on Thursday, and they return to NESCAC play this weekend with a three-game series at Middlebury.

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