Jeffs Turn Triple Play, Sweep Middlebury

April 9, 2005 

AMHERST, MA - After upending NESCAC West Division rival Middlebury College 7-4 on Friday afternoon, the Amherst College baseball team swept the visiting Panthers 2-1 and 9-3 on Saturday, assuming sole possession of first place in the conference standings at 9-3 overall and 3-0 in league play. The Jeffs made several outstanding defensive plays on the day, including a rally-killing triple play that all but crushed Middlebury's hopes for a comeback in the second game. 

Saturday's opener began as an old fashioned pitchers' duel between Amherst junior Joe Vladeck (Washington, DC) and Middlebury senior David Riester (Appleton, WI). The game remained scoreless until bottom of the sixth when Amherst senior left fielder Dave Powers (Andover, MA) drew a leadoff walk and scored on an RBI single by classmate Josh Santry (Allendale, NJ), prompting Riester's exodus from the mound. 

Down but not out, Middlebury rebounded with a run in the top of the seventh and final inning on a truly bizarre play. After the Panthers loaded the bases with back-to-back-to-back singles off Vladeck, Amherst brought senior closer Ed Imperatore (Tenafly, NJ) into the game in a pressure-packed situation. Despite the tension, which was truly palpable, Imperatore coaxed the Panthers into three straight pop-ups, which on an ordinary day would've ended the threat. But the second of the three was no run-of-the-mill fly - it was a sky-ball toward shallow right field that was tagged with the infield fly rule by the plate umpire. However, the ball fell earthward and landed softly on a patch of green grass, and the runner on third - Riester, who remained in the game as a defensive substitute - capitalized, tagging up and scampering home with the tying run. The confusion lay in the fact that the ball was never caught, and it was unclear if the infield fly rule should have in fact been enacted. But the play stood and the game seemed destined for extra innings, until Middlebury made two crucial errors in the bottom of the seventh, allowing Amherst junior center fielder Andrew Green (Lexington, MA) to trot home with the winning run. 

Imperatore picked up the win, evening his record at 1-1, but Vladeck was the star of the game, fanning eight and allowing just one (earned) run in six complete innings. Sophomore DH Tom Scott (Randolph, NJ) tripled and singled to pace the Jeffs offensively, while junior first baseman Dave Levinson (Philadelphia, PA) went 2-for-3 with a double. 

Middlebury rookie John Lanahan (Jacksonville, FL) picked up the loss in relief, dropping to 2-2. Fellow first-year Ryan Whyte (Lake Forest, CA) finished 3-for-3 with a trio of singles.