Baseball Splits Doubleheader
By Brian Smith ’12, Staff Writer
As final papers and exams loom ahead, the Lord Jeffs still have a full schedule of baseball to play. This past Saturday featured a doubleheader against nationally-ranked NESCAC rival Trinity College, an opportunity for Amherst to get playing time against some of the nation’s best collegiate baseball players. While Trinity could not expect to win easily, the situation looked to be an uphill battle indeed for the unranked Jeffs. Amherst sent a jolt through the NESCAC, however, with two stellar games and a series split against the Bantams, one of the league’s powerful teams.

Opening the day with a 14-9 record, the Jeffs sent out Max McKenna ’11 to start game one on Saturday. John D’Angelo ’10 and Hayden Metz ’12 came on in relief, as the trio surrendered just three earned runs while walking four in seven innings pitched. Trinity pitcher Derek Anderson went one step beyond, however, as his seven-inning complete game proved to be too much to handle for the Jeffs.

Offensively, Amherst scored only two runs, both of which came off the bat of Kevin Heller ’12 on a third inning single. Nolan Stewart ’13 and Thomas Wheeler ’12 also contributed with doubles. Defensively, the Jeffs only had one error on the game and turned two double plays.

Taking the mound in the nightcap was Ryan Healy ’11, who entered with a 4-3 record to his name. It was perhaps the junior’s best game of the season, as his six-inning performance featured seven strikeouts, three hits and only two earned runs in a quality start. Pat Harris ’11 came in for the three-inning save, giving up one earned run while striking out two.

The dominant pitching performance proved to be a safety precaution, as the offense was in full swing. Powered by 17 hits, the Jeffs pushed 11 runs across the plate, which was more than enough to propel the team to an 11-3 win. With a home run from Stewart and doubles from Wheeler and Bob Cook ’13, the team had little trouble putting runs on the board. Every starting position player for Amherst collected at least one hit in the game. While the defense was not quite as strong — committing two errors — the offense compensated for any miscues.

Obviously, picking up a win against a nationally-ranked team was a huge boost for the Jeffs, and the fact that their loss was a close one-run game also gives reason to believe that the team is on the rise. Players were excited about the weekend successes and are looking forward to their upcoming games.

“Coming off the win versus Trinity, I think we have some serious momentum going into the weekend,” said Brian Merrigan ’11. “Because Williams took two from Wesleyan last weekend, we still have a shot at making the NESCACS if we sweep Middlebury and Williams beats Wesleyan again on Friday.

“Knowing this, everyone is pretty fired up for the Middlebury series,” he added. “To continue our successes, we need to have a great week of practice and stay focused. With the way we’ve been swinging the bats lately, if our pitchers throw strikes and we make the plays behind them, I think we have a very good shot at taking three from Middlebury and hopefully (with a little help from Williams) making the NESCAC tournament.”

The season is starting to come to a close, as there are only five more division games left. With playoff hopes in the balance, there is little the team can afford to do besides win. The equation is quite simple; if the team wins the rest of its games, it will at least have a chance to make the postseason. The coaching staff is well aware that the team needs to keep playing good baseball.

“We have worked very hard all year and I am proud of the way that we have improved as a team,” said coach Brian Hamm. “At the beginning of the season we discussed the offensive and defensive parts of our play that we needed to improve to be successful. We’ve worked hard all season to make these adjustments and this week we executed situationally on offense, our pitchers were efficient, and our defense made the plays in the field against two very good baseball teams.”

With a game on Wednesday afternoon against Springfield College and a three-game weekend series against division rival Middlebury, Amherst will look to continue its winning ways in the hopes of a playoff drive. The first pitch against Springfield is scheduled 3:30 p.m. on Memorial Field. The weekend series will be played at Middlebury, and live stats will be available online for all three games.

Issue 24, Submitted 2010-04-28 03:21:23