Baseball Looks to Build Momentum After Splitting In-Conference Matchups
Issue   |   Tue, 04/26/2016 - 22:22
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The Amherst baseball team has compiled a phenomenal 19-8 record this season, and currently holds first place in the West Division of the NESCAC.

The Amherst baseball team played a total of five games this past week, winning three and losing two. They split non-league play 1-1 and took the series against fellow NESCAC team Middlebury, 2-1. All games were away last week as Amherst continued to impress on the road.

The men began a full week of baseball at Nichols College, losing 13-6. The purple and white dug themselves into a hole as they gave up five runs in the first three innings. Though Yanni Thanopoulos ’17 and Conner Gunn ’16 made a statement with two hits each, the men were never able to come back from the early deficit.

The purple and white cycled through seven pitchers in the loss to Nichols, first-year Mike Dow starting on the mound and tossing three innings. Junior George Long took his first loss of the season after allowing four runs on four hits in one inning pitched.

Despite this loss, Amherst headed out to Curry College the next night and earned a 6-2 win. Max Steinhorn ’18 definitively led the purple and white with a perfect 4-for-4 with three runs. Dave Cunningham ’16 and Anthony Spina ’17 each added a home run to the winning effort.

Senior Keenan Szulik took the mound to start for the purple and white striking out four while allowing no hits and two runs in 4.2 innings. Chris Baldi ’17 (1-1) earned the win for Amherst, tossing 1.1 innings and allowing two hits while fanning two, while Mike Castiglie ’17 took the mound for two innings in relief, striking out two and giving up a hit. Andrew Ferrero ’19 closed out the game for Amherst, striking out one and holding Curry hitless in the top of the ninth.

“This was a great comeback win after our loss on Tuesday, our pitchers really impressed against a tough Curry offense,” Szulik said. “Ferrero was great coming into close, as he has been all season.”

After two non-league matches, Amherst traveled north to Middlebury for a three-game series. With no score the first three innings of the first matchup, it looked as if it was anybody’s game. However, Spina notched a triple in the fourth, and Sam Ellinwood ’18 earned a single to send Spina in, making the score 1-0.

Harry Roberson ’18 added a double in the sixth inning to score Steinhorn and Ellinwood. At the pitcher’s mound, Jackson Volle ’17 earned the win, allowing no runs and only six hits in the complete game shutout effort. This Volle performance helped him earn NESCAC pitcher of the week, as he leads the conference in ERA (1.10) and sits at third in innings pitched, with 49 on the season. With his Middlebury win, Volle improved his record to 6-0.

The next day, the purple and white continued the winning effort against Middlebury with an 8-7 victory. Though the Panthers came out with a decisive 7-1 lead after the first two innings, Amherst was able to build momentum throughout the rest of the game and earn seven additional runs, pushing them over the edge for the win. Steinhorn sparked the comeback in the top of the sixth with a double, and the purple and white never looked back.

Unfortunately, in the last game of the weekend, Amherst lost to Middlebury, 6-5. The Panthers out-hit the purple and white, 12-8, and Gunn was the only Amherst player to get more than one hit.

The purple and white used five pitchers in the losing effort. First-year Wilson Taylor pitched the first 1.2 innings, allowing three hits and three runs. Long entered for relief, pitching 2.1 innings before being replaced by Baldi and subsequently Castigle. Ferrero took the loss for the purple and white on the mound, tossing an inning and allowing one run on two hits.
Cunningham’s impressive week at the plate earned him NESCAC player of the week, as he notched nine hits, three runs and five RBIs in five games played. Cunningham added two homeruns and a double to the purple and white totals for the week.

Seeking a win, Amherst will travel to Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Wednesday, April 27 for another non-league matchup. The purple and white will then return home for a Little Three rival game on Friday as they face Wesleyan before traveling to Middletown, Connecticut for a doubleheader on Saturday.

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