Baseball Defeats Bates, Middlebury, Looks Towards Williams Game Friday
Issue   |   Tue, 04/07/2015 - 23:32

Returning from their trip to Florida with a .500 record, the Amherst College baseball team claimed a close victory over non-conference opponents Bates on Wednesday night before starting their league schedule with a comfortable three-game sweep of Middlebury on Friday and Saturday. With the wins, the Jeffs improve to 10-6 on the year (3-0 conference).

Andrew Vandini ’16 claimed NESCAC Player of the Week, leading the Jeffs to an offensive outburst that included two 20-plus run performances. For the week, he batted 10 for 16 (.625) with a .727 on-base percentage and 1.125 slugging percentage. He recorded 16 RBIs in only four games, including eight in one win over Middlebury.

After a week and a half off, the purple and white returned to action against Bates, outlasting them to record a 10-9 victory. Led by shortstop Harry Roberson ’18, who went 3-for-5 with a home run, three runs, and three stolen bases, Amherst recorded 12 hits on the night. Riley Streit ’16 earned the start for the Jeffs, recording five strikeouts and five runs (three earned) on seven hits through four innings. Keenan Szulik ’16 earned the win with a critical strikeout to end the eighth inning and Jackson Volle ’17 claimed the save with a hitless, scoreless ninth.

All nine players in the Bates lineup recorded a hit. They were led by shortstop Brendan Fox, who went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs. On the mound, Chris Ward started the game for the Bobcats, recording four strikeouts while allowing three earned runs on six hits.

Up 3-0 after three innings, Amherst surrendered the lead with a sloppy fourth inning defensively. After Bates had scored three runs on five hits, the Bobcats had a runner on second and third with two outs. A hit by pitch allowed Bates to load the bases and then an error by Roberson allowed two more runs to score.

The Jeffs responded in the top of the sixth, scoring five runs in a two-out rally keyed by Roberson, Vandini, Mike Odenwaelder ’16, and Yanni Thanopoulos ’17. Bates knotted the game up with two-run innings in the seventh and eighth on either side of a solo home run by Odenwaelder in the bottom of the eighth. The Bobcats threatened to take the lead after a Fox single and an Amherst error left runners on second and third with two outs in the eighth, but Szulik struck out Bates batter Conor Reenstierna to end the inning.

In the top of the ninth, Jeff pinch hitter Anthony Spina ’17 reached base on an error by the Bobcats before stealing second. A two-out single by Vandini then allowed Spina to score and put the Jeffs in the lead. Volle then held Bates hitless in the bottom of the inning to claim the win.

“[The Bates] game was ugly. We didn’t have things working at all, but our offense was able to give us a spark and get the bench guys excited, and from there we felt good,” senior captain Jack Falvey said. “Good teams need to find a way to win when they don’t have it going for them, so hopefully that’s a good sign moving forward.”

On Friday and Saturday, the Jeffs took on winless NESCAC rivals Middlebury in a three-game series played at Auburn High School in Auburn, Massachusetts due to poor field conditions. Amherst swept by the Panthers with an offensive explosion of 58 runs in three straight double-digit wins.

In Friday night’s win, Odenwaelder led the Jeffs with four RBIs and three runs in a 4 for 6 effort as Amherst cruised to a 22-2 win. Roberson and Vandini also contributed multi-hit games as the purple and white scored at least one run in every inning.

On the mound, John Cook ’15 started the game for the Jeffs, allowing two runs (both earned) on seven hits in five innings. J.R. Anderson ’18 then threw three scoreless innings with three strikeouts and Drew Fischer ’18 closed it out with a scoreless ninth.

For Middlebury, Raj Palekar went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run while Ryan Rizzo put in a 3 for 4 effort. Starter Eric Truss endured a rough outing, surrendering 10 runs (seven earned) on eight hits in three innings.

In three innings, Amherst jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead. Middlebury threatened in the fourth inning, scoring two runs and loading the bases with two outs in the top of the fourth, but Panther hitter Brendan Donohue popped up to end the inning. The Jeffs then extended their lead with three runs in the bottom of the fourth and never looked back.

In the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday, Amherst swept by the Panthers with another dominant effort, winning 18-2. Conner Gunn ’16, Eric West ’15, and Sam Ellinwood ’18 were all perfect from the plate with 3 for 3, 2 for 2, and 2 for 2 efforts respectively. The Jeffs went 18-for-34 as a team with multi-hit games from seven players.

Jackson Volle ’17 started the game for Amherst and allowed only two runs (both earned) on six hits with three strikeouts in five innings to claim the win. Nic Meyer ’16 and Mike Castiglie ’17 then tossed scoreless innings in the eighth and ninth, respectively.

For Middlebury, Jason Lock and Andrew Corcoran recorded solid games offensively as each batted 2 for 4. Cooper Byrne was credited with the loss as three different pitchers took the mound for the Panthers.

The purple and white surged to an early 12-0 lead with a five-run first inning and a seven-run second inning amongst contributions throughout the lineup. Middlebury responded with one run in the top of the third before holding the Jeffs scoreless in the bottom of the inning, but Amherst held the Panthers scoreless the rest of the way and tacked on six more runs to finish the game.

In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Amherst endured a closer contest, with six Jeff errors helping Middlebury record 10 runs. Despite the miscues, Amherst’s offensive, led by an explosive effort from Vandini, scored 20 runs yet again en route to a 20-10 victory.

Vandini batted 3 for 4 for Amherst, recording eight RBIs along with two runs, while Tyler Jacobs ’15 went a perfect 2 for 2 from the plate with four RBIs and three runs. Szulik tossed 7.1 innings on the mound for the Jeffs, recording three earned runs and four strikeouts, while George Long ’17 allowed two runs on one hit with three strikeouts over the last 2.1 innings.

For Middlebury, leftfielder Alex Deutsch led the offensive outburst with a 3 for 4 effort, scoring three runs to go along with one RBI. Brendan Donohue, Ryan Rizzo and Johnny Read added two hits each in the loss. Robert Erickson took the loss, allowing eight runs (three earned) in four innings while five pitchers took the mound for the Panthers.

After a scoreless first inning, Amherst took the lead with a four-run bottom of the second. By the fifth inning, the Jeffs had stretched the lead to 10-2 with a run in the fourth and five in the fifth.

Middlebury took advantage of Amherst’s miscues in the sixth, scoring four runs thanks to three errors by the Jeffs. After a home run from Vandini allowed Amherst to claim a 13-6 lead, the Panthers rallied in the eighth, scoring two runs before they left the bases loaded. The Jeffs then put the game away with seven runs in the bottom of the eighth.

“I think everyone wanted to come back from Florida with a better record than we did, but we played a ton of really, really good teams,” Falvey said. “Not only did that fuel us to string together some wins when we got back north, but it made us elevate our game to a high level at an early point in the season.”

The team returns to action with a tripleheader against archrivals Williams this weekend. The Jeffs are slated to play at Amherst at 4 p.m. on Friday before traveling to Williams for a doubleheader beginning on Saturday at 1 p.m.