The Amherst College baseball team captured its second straight NESCAC crown in 2005, securing its second consecutive automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and finishing the season ranked fifth in New England by American Baseball Coaches Association at 23-9-1 overall and 9-2-1 in NESCAC West Division play. The Jeffs opened the season with an impressive 5-2 stretch on their spring break trip to Fort Myers, Fla., including victories over Anderson, Clarkson and St. Thomas. They split games against Westfield St. and then No. 17 Eastern Connecticut upon their return to the northeast, but then rattled off a 10-game winning streak, including key conference wins over Middlebury, Hamilton and Williams. After wrapping up the regular season with a 20-6-1 overall mark, Amherst earned the right to host the 2005 NESCAC Postseason Tournament, where they tripped up visiting Tufts University in the first round, 5-3, and proceeded to take two-of-three from NESCAC East Division Champion Trinity College to seal their second straight trip to the national tournament. However, the Jeffs' season would end there as they dropped a pair at the NCAA Regionals. They finished the season ranked 23rd n the nation in home runs per game (.94/gm), 24th in earned run average (3.28), 37th in winning percentage (.712). The Jeffs also paced the conference in home runs (31) and stolen bases (52), while ranking second in wins (23), hits allowed (245), earned runs allowed (102), total bases (539), slugging percentage (.477) and opposing batting average (.233), and third in hits (355) and earned run average (3.28).
The Jeffs lose five seniors to graduation, highlighted by former co-captains Dave Powers and Josh Santry. Both earned Second-Team All-NESCAC honors in their final season, and played influential roles in both of their conference title runs in their last two years. Powers finished fifth in the NESCAC in total bases (73) and tied for 24th in batting average (.344) last season, while Santry added New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) Division III All-New England honors and ranked third in the NESCAC in home runs (6), fourth in slugging percentage (.609) and 23rd in batting average (.345). Hurlers Ed Imperatore, Kyle Lavery and Mike Erkkinen will all be missed as well, as each contributed solid innings of relief last season, while Lavery and Erkkinen displayed solid utility performances in their careers. Imperatore served as the Jeffs' closer periodically through his final two seasons. All five seniors will be missed for their leadership and championship experience.
Amherst returns an amazing stock of talent to the diamond this spring, including four outstanding starters on the hill, and six of eight positional players from last year's starting lineup. Senior Joe Vladeck and junior Brian Donahue highlight the Jeffs' exceptional group of pitching. Vladeck earned a bevy of awards last season including New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association (NEIBA) Division III All-New England, NESCAC Pitcher of the Year and First-Team All-NESCAC. He finished 19th in the nation in ERA (1.59), while leading the conference in earned run average (1.59), strikeouts (64), innings pitched (73.2) and wins (7). He also finished second in appearances (16), third in earned runs allowed (13), fifth in opposing batting average (.207). Donahue picked up Second-Team All-NESCAC honors last spring, finishing second in the conference in opposing batting average (.186), sixth in earned run average (2.49) and tying for sixth in wins (5). He also spent the 2005 summer playing in the highly-touted Cape League and earning First-Team All-NESCAC and NESCAC Rookie of the Year plaudits in 2004. Also scheduled to pick up some starts for the Jeffs are junior Nick Kehoe and sophomore Chris Edgar, who each started seven games apiece last season and combined for eight wins. Senior Rob Anderson will look for some time out of the bullpen when not filling the designated hitter role.
Seniors Zach Schonberger and Dave Levinson headline a solid Amherst infield in their final collegiate campaigns. Schonberger was one of the top sluggers in the region last season, joining Vladeck on the NEIBA Division III All-New England team and First-Team All-NESCAC. He was tops in the conference in in home runs (8) and assists (115), and ranked second in total bases (80) and runs batted in (39), fifth in slugging percentage (.606) and 22nd in batting average (.348). Levinson boasts a career average of .342 and took home Second-Team All-NESCAC honors last season after tying for 24th in the conference in batting average (.344). He has been an exceptional defensive player as well, tying for second in the NESCAC in 2005 with 280 putouts and flossing an exceptional .997 fielding percentage. Junior Mark Mazzone returns at second base, while sophomores Josh Card and Neal Allar, and junior Andy Phillips will line up behind the dish and sophomore Nick Boehm hopes to see some time behind Levinson at first base. Card was flawless defensively, not committing an error all season and tying for the conference lead in fielding percentage (1.000), while gunning down seven base runners, good for fourth in the NESCAC.
Senior Andrew Green and juniors Jared Banner and Tom Scott all saw significant time in the outfield last season and look to continue their contributions. Green opened last season red-hot at the plate, hitting over .700 through their spring break trip and cruised to a .392 average on the season, good for seventh in the conference, despite nagging injuries down the stretch. Banner was a terror on the base paths, finishing third in the NESCAC with 13 stolen bases and did some damage at the plate as well, placing 19th in batting average (.351). Scott hit .341 on the year and tied Schonberger with a team-high 10 doubles. Also seeking time in the outfield will be sophomores Evan Bruno, Matt Goldsmith and Conor Clancy.
The Jeffs welcome 11 first-years to the squad, who all hope to contribute great things this spring. Joining the pitching staff will be Ben Goldfarb, Mike Landman, Ryan Platzbecker and Daren Synder, while Jay Hebb adds depth in front of the backstop. Mike Hinckley, Mike Neff, Nat Pedley, Brendan Powers and Angus Schaller add depth to the infield, while John DeCarlo bolsters the outfield ranks.
Jeffs Eye Third Straight NESCAC Title