Power Surge Helps Jeffs Plow through Competition
By Brian Smith '12, Staff Writer
Perhaps it was the Florida-esque weather that hit Amherst this weekend, or maybe it was the team settling in to their home field, but in any case, the Amherst bats came to life this weekend. In a three-game series against Hamilton College, the Lord Jeffs exploded for 46 runs, while only giving up 20 runs, en route to a three-game sweep.

The wins could not have come at a better time for the Jeffs, as their previous four games played resulted in a meek 1-3 record. During that stretch, they lost to Westfield State (5-24) and Wesleyan twice (6-8, 3-6). While they managed to beat Wesleyan 6-3 to open their NESCAC season, there were plenty of doubts on how the team would do. This past weekend offered a chance for the Jeff to improve their record and move up in the NESCAC standings.

On Friday, the Amherst offense came out in full force. The Jeffs pushed across six runs in the first inning, with John Wagner ’12 and Nolan Stewart ’13 hitting home runs. Kevin Heller ’12 had a career day, going 6-7 with two triples and four RBI. While the offense was strong, the defense left much to be desired. The Jeffs’ racked up five errors on the game, which could have been very damaging if the team weren’t scoring as many runs. Max McKenna ’11 and Adam Medoff ’13 ensured the win with solid, controlled pitching as the Jeffs won the first game of the series 24-13.

Game two of the series would not feature quite as many runs, but it wouldn’t be necessary for the Jeffs this time around. The first game of the Saturday doubleheader featured much better defense and pitching, as the team only had one error and the pitching staff only gave up one walk. Heller ’12 remained hot, as he drilled his second home run of the year. Mike Samela ’12 contributed with two doubles and two RBI, helping the Jeffs take a second straight game from the Continentals.

The Jeffs would close their weekend on a high note, sweeping Hamilton with a 14-3 win in the nightcap of the double header. Amherst put up 17 hits in the game, including home runs from Samela ’12 and Bob Cook ’13. Junior Ryan Healy gave the Jeffs a much needed quality start, pitching for six innings and only allowing three earned runs. The bullpen was lights out, as Jeff Keenan ’11, John D’Angelo ’10 and Pat Harris ’11 finished the game without allowing another run.

This past weekend featured sort of a team renaissance. With 48 hits giving way to 46 runs, the Jeffs were extremely efficient in scoring runs. It wasn’t just singles that the team was hitting either; of the 48 hits, 15 were for extra bases, including six home runs. While the pitching was nowhere near perfect, it was vastly better than the previous week. Damage control and improved pitching were the highlights for the pitching staff this weekend. Overall, the team’s improvement was hard to ignore.

“We have all the tools to be a dominant team on a consistent basis,” said Wagner on the team’s abilities. “We feel confident…it’s just a matter of putting it all together at the right time.”

McKenna echoed Wagner’s sentiments, adding that the wins over the weekend were critical for the team.

“I think that this weekend was incredibly important in helping us get back on track, especially in our NESCAC schedule,” he said. “Going out this weekend and taking all three from Hamilton was definitely an important step in getting back to playing consistent, old style baseball, and gives us a good example to look to if we need to get back to form.”

With a successful weekend under their belts, the Jeffs continued to play well at Keene State College on Tuesday, winning 11-8. Wagner drove in five runs, while Samela added a solo home run.

Amherst will have its hands full this weekend, as they will take on archrival Williams College over the weekend. The team believes that they have what it takes to win against competitive teams; it’s just a matter of playing the game the right way.

“There is no question this week is big for us and it is going to be a challenge to play great teams such as … Williams,” said NESCAC Player of the Week Heller. “However, it is our job to approach this week the same way we approached Hamilton. We’re going to stay loose and have a great week of practice and there is no question we will be ready for Williams this weekend.”

The Jeffs will travel to Williams on Friday to open the series, and will make their way back to Amherst to play a doubleheader on Saturday. The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader will be at Memorial Field, with the first pitch at 1 p.m.

Issue 21, Submitted 2010-04-07 03:09:46