Baseball Splits Double Header with Williams
Issue   |   Tue, 04/08/2014 - 22:22
Rob Mattson
Third baseman Andrew Vandini ’16 has 24 hits and 16 runs on the season. Vandini had one hit and scored a run in the team’s 5-2 win on Saturday.

The Jeffs completed another solid stretch of play, sweeping their series over Hamilton, winning their home opener over Springfield College and taking two out of three from Williams.

Inclement weather forced Amherst to travel to Baseball Heaven in Long Island, N.Y. for a two-game series against Hamilton on Friday, March 28. Good pitching led the way for the Jeffs in the doubleheader, as senior starting pitchers Fred Shepard and Dylan Driscoll proved to be too much for the Continentals’ bats.

Shepard tossed seven strong innings, as he picked up eight strikeouts and allowed four hits, one walk and one run. After Hamilton grabbed a run in the top of the first, the Jeffs moved ahead for good with two runs in the bottom half of the inning by way of a sacrifice fly from right fielder Mike Odenwaelder ’16 and an RBI single from senior center fielder Alex Hero. Shortstop Taiki Kasuga ’14 had two hits and a run for the Jeffs, as Kasuga was driven in by sophomore catcher Conner Gunn in the sixth inning to make it 3-1, which would be the final score in the victory for the Jeffs.

In the second game against Hamilton, Driscoll turned in a dominant pitching outing in Amherst’s 9-2 win, as he threw seven shutout innings and had nine strikeouts, allowing just three hits and one walk. Offensively, sophomores Odenwaelder and third baseman Andrew Vandini ’16 both had three hits and scored a run in the ball game. Kasuga, Hero and first-year left fielder Anthony Spina each had multiple hits as well. One of Spina’s two hits was a towering home run to left field, the first of his collegiate career, to put the Jeffs up 7-0.

On Wednesday, April 2, Amherst defeated Springfield 9-4. Gunn led the offense for the Jeffs, going 3-for-4 from the plate with two RBIs, a double and a home run. Gunn’s homer got things started in the bottom of the first. A three-run homer from first baseman Eric West ’15 followed later in the inning, plating Hero and Odenwaelder to give the Jeffs a 4-0 lead.

The Pride cut the deficit to two in the second, but Amherst upped its lead to 6-2 in the fourth, pulling away, 9-4, by the sixth.
Quinn Saunders-Kolberg ’14 picked up the win for the Jeffs, while Keenan Szulik ’16, John Cook ’15 and Odenwaelder each pitched a perfect inning of relief. Offensively, besides Gunn, West finished 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs, while Spina, Vandini and Odenwaelder also contributed two hits apiece.

The Jeffs opened Little Three play on Friday with a 16-6 victory over the Ephs. Amherst got on the board early in the first when Gunn hit a double to bring home Kasuga followed closely by a single from Odenwaeler to drive in Gunn.

With the help of some poor defense from Williams, the Jeffs led 5-0 after the first inning. Amherst got on the board with five more in the second inning, putting the game out of reach at 10-0. Eight different players contributed to Amherst’s 15 hits, while Driscoll earned his fourth win of the year with seven strikeouts.

Amherst split day two with the Ephs, falling in game one 7-3, but coming out with the 5-2 victory in the second game. It was the Ephs turn to come out early on Saturday, scoring four runs in the first inning, punctuated by a three-run home run from Thomas Stephens off Amherst starter Fred Shepard.

The Jeffs cut the deficit to three in the third but never took back the momentum. The Ephs put three more runs on the board in the fourth, fifth and seventh, and the Jeffs’ two runs in their half of the seventh came too late. Despite not being able to put together a big rally, the Jeffs hit plenty of balls hard against the Ephs’ Thomas Murphy. Odenwaelder had another strong day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI, while junior Tyler Jacobs went 2-for-2. Shepard took the loss, his first of the year. In a bright spot for the Jeffs, Keenan Szulik ’16 pitched 2.2 solid innings of relief, continuing his strong season thus far.

In game two, the Jeffs got on the board in the bottom of the second with an unearned run. In the bottom of the fifth, with the score sitting at 1-0, West and Yanni Thanopoulos ’17 both delivered RBI hits. In the sixth, Gunn — named the NESCAC Player of the Week for his torrid 9-for-14 overall performance — homered to increase the lead to 4-0. The Ephs weren’t ready to quit, putting a run on the board with a home run in the top of the seventh and a run in the eighth to cut the deficit to two. Amherst retaliated with a run in the bottom of the eighth when Hero singled to bring in Vandini, and the score stuck at 5-2.

Cook pitched seven stellar innings, allowing only five hits and striking out eight Ephs. Eric Kotin ’14 and Odenwaelder relieved Cook and didn’t allow a hit in the last two innings of the game. The Jeffs handed Williams their first two losses in league play and won the season series against the Ephs for the fourth straight year.

With a leg up in the Little Three standings, Amherst (14-4 overall and 4-1 record NESCAC record) returns to action on Wednesday, April 9, when host to MIT at 4 p.m. The Jeffs have the week off from NESCAC play and will also travel to Endicott for a doubleheader on Saturday, April 12.