Schonberger Single in 11th Gives Jeffs 8-7 Win Over Middlebury

May 4, 2003 

AMHERST, MA - Rookie shortstop Zach Schonberger (Rye, NY) singled home senior co-captain John Schneider (Grand Rapids, MI) with the bases loaded in the 11th inning to give the Amherst College baseball team a dramatic 8-7 come-from-behind win over visiting Middlebury College on Sunday. Middlebury, which took a 6-0 lead into the sixth inning, needed a win to qualify for the NESCAC Postseason Championship Tournament. Instead, the Panthers finish their season at 11-11-1 (7-5 NESCAC), and Williams College qualifies for the postseason in their place.

Amherst clinched the NESCAC West Division crown by sweeping a doubleheader from Middlebury on Saturday and will host the four-team NESCAC Tournament this Friday through Sunday. 

Middlebury jumped all over Amherst in the early going, scoring a run in each of the second and third innings and adding four more in the fifth. Junior shortstop Jake Armstrong (La Jolla, CA) capped the four-run rally with an RBI single off Amherst first-year Brant Ford (Fabius, NY), who relieved rookie starter Joe Vladeck (Washington, DC) with two outs in the fifth. 

Amherst rebounded with consecutive two-run innings in the sixth, seventh and eighth and finally knotted the score at 7-7 with a run in the ninth off reliever Russ Budnick (New Canaan, CT), who also pitched seven innings in a complete-game loss on Saturday. Budnick fanned the first two batters he faced in the ninth, but Amherst first-year Dave Levinson (Philadelphia, PA) reached with a single, and pinch-runner Andrew Green (Lexington, MA) stole second and trotted home on an base hit by junior Fran Morales (N. Andover, MA). 

Amherst had a chance to win with the bases loaded in the tenth, but first-year reliever Alex Casnocha (San Francisco, CA), brother of Amherst basketball player John Casnocha, wiggled out of trouble with a rally-killing 5-2-3 double play. The Jeffs again loaded the bases against Casnocha in the 11th, setting the stage for Schonberger's game-winning heroics. 

Amherst pounded out 19 hits off four Middlebury pitchers. Morales, Brandon Cody (Boston, MA), Paul Whiting (Mission Viejo, CA) and David Powers (Andover, MA) finished with three hits each. Powers doubled, drove in two runs and scored another to pace the offense. Rookie Rob Anderson (Winnetka, IL) picked up his first collegiate win with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. He improves to 1-2. 

John Prescott (Sierra Madre, CA) and David Riester (Appleton, WI) each doubled and finished with three hits for Middlebury. Casnocha fell to 2-2 with the loss. First-year starter Tyler Bak (Northampton, MA) surrendered four runs in seven complete innings en route to the no-decision. 

Amherst (18-10/10-2 NESCAC) will wrap up the regular season Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at non-league foe Springfield College. 

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