23rd-Ranked Baseball Posts 6-6 Record Throughout Spring Break
Issue   |   Tue, 03/24/2015 - 23:57

The Amherst College men’s baseball team kicked off their season with their annual spring break trip to Florida. In 12 games against some of the top Division III teams in the country, the Jeffs recorded a .500 record at 6-6.

Playing their first games outdoors, the team struggled to preserve early leads at the start of the trip, losing a close game against Ripon on Saturday, March 14, and dropping both games of a particularly tight doubleheader against Rutgers-Camden on Sunday, March 15. Against Ripon, right-hander Jackson Volle ’17 turned in a quality start and left with the Jeffs ahead 7-4 after six innings, while Keenan Szulik ’16 pitched a great game against Rutgers-Camden going seven strong innings.

Amherst’s first win of the year came on Monday, March 16, when the Jeffs cruised to a 20-5 win over Western New England, a game in which six different Jeff hitters recorded multi-hit games and the Jeffs pounded out 21 total hits. Outfielder Mike Odenwaelder ’16 and first-year shortstop Harry Roberson each had four hits. Sophomore outfielder Yanni Thanopoulos had a whopping seven RBIs and three hits, one of which was his first collegiate home run, and also swiped two bags. On the hill, junior Riley Streit pitched well in seven innings to earn the victory for the Jeffs.

The game sparked a five-game winning streak in which Amherst swept Framingham State in a doubleheader, defeated St. Norbert 20-7 on Thursday, March 19, and beat Endicott 13-5 in the first game of a doubleheader on Friday, March 20.
In the opener against Framingham State, George Long ’17 was key, tossing five effective innings in relief, allowing only one run on three hits, to earn the victory for the Jeffs.

In the second game of the doubleheader against Framingham, senior southpaw John Cook pitched a complete game and struck out 10 Framingham State batters en route to the victory.

For the second time in four games, the Amherst offense exploded for 20 runs in the team’s matchup against St. Norbert. The Jeffs got 19 hits, including three hits from Vandini, two hits and five RBIs from Thanopoulos, and a pair of hits from infielder/outfielder Tyler Jacobs ’15 and first-year third baseman Sam Ellinwood.

The Amherst bats remained hot in the Jeffs’ first game against Endicott, as Gunn had four hits, and Thanopoulos had three. Volle tossed seven innings to earn the win.

Amherst’s winning streak ended when they dropped their second game against Endicott and fell to William Paterson the following day.

Following Amherst’s two-game skid after five straight victories, Amherst ended the trip by splitting a doubleheader against St. Thomas, the second-ranked team in the country. The Jeffs claimed the first game 3-1 on the back of a brilliant performance from Cook, who tossed 7.2 innings as the starting pitcher. He allowed one run on four hits, striking out seven. However, Amherst could not carry this momentum over to the second game, as they dropped the second half of the twinbill, 8-1.

“We put ourselves into a hole by starting 0-3, but the team responded well to rattle off five straight wins,” said first-year pitcher J.R. Anderson, who has made three appearances thus far in 2015. “Expectations are high for this season. We have the talent to beat anyone, and I think splitting a doubleheader against the second-ranked team in the country (St. Thomas) showed that.”

The Jeffs take a week off from games as they wait for the winter in New England to subside. They return to action next Wednesday, April 1, with a game at Springfield, a non-league opponent. Amherst then kicks off NESCAC play with a three-game series against Middlebury on Friday and Saturday, April 3-4.