Jeffs End Season with Pair of Losses in NESCAC Tournament

Game one story from a Williams College Release; game two story by Justin Long

May 12, 2007

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Amherst College baseball team suffered a 6-3 loss to tournament host Williams College this morning, setting up an elimination game with Tufts University this afternoon. The Lord Jeffs dropped the rematch of yesterday's game, and were knocked out of the tournament with the 9-4 result.

Williams did not take its first lead until the top of the seventh inning. Leading 3-2 through six, Amherst went to its bullpen, calling on rookie Teddy Blank (Waban, MA) to come on in relief of junior starter Chris Edgar (Massapequa, NY). Eph senior Chris Kenney, last year's NESCAC Player of the Year, stepped to the plate to lead off the inning for the Ephs. He sent Blank's first offering over the fence in right to tie the game, 3-3.

After walking senior Paul Morgan, Blank settled in and retired the next two batters he faced. But with two outs, first-year Chad Brown dropped in a bloop hit to shallow left to drive in Morgan and give the Ephs a 4-3 lead.

Williams hurler Ryan Fote made quick work of the Jeffs in the bottom half of the inning, retiring the side on seven pitches. In the bottom of the eighth, Fote escaped a two-on and two-out jam by inducing a groundout to first.

Then, with two outs and Brown on first in the top of the ninth, Fote iced a solid day on the mound by coming through at the plate for the Ephs. He delivered a two-run homerun to center to extend the Williams lead to 6-3.

Sam Tuttle closed out the win for the Ephs, pitching a one-two-three ninth to earn the save. He struck out the last batter of the contest.

With the win, Fote improved to 6-0 on the year. He went eight innings, surrendering three runs, one earned, on five hits and two walks. He struck out one.

Fote also got some help from his infield, as rookie Rob Allemand made a pair of nifty plays at third base. With a man on third and two outs in the bottom of the third, Allemand charged a weak grounder up the line and made the throw to first to save a run. In the bottom of the seventh, with the Ephs holding a slim 4-3 lead, Allemand made a clean play on a hard hit ball to his left to get the first out of the inning.

Amherst had gotten on the board first with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second. A series of bunts and weak grounders gave the Eph infield some problems in the inning, as the Jeffs managed to put runners on second and third with no outs. Junior Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) singled to center to start the rally, and sophomore Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) reached on an error by Fote. After a groundout advanced them, sophomore Nat Pedley (Rye, NY) drove both runners in with a basehit through the rightside, putting the Jeffs on top, 2-0.

Williams got one back in the top of the third. Fote and Allemand led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Then, junior James DiCosmo moved them over with a grounder to the first baseman. After Kenney walked, Morgan hit a potential double-play ball to the Amherst shortstop, but he hustled down the line and beat the throw to first, allowing Fote to score.

The Ephs tied things up in the top of the fourth. After Brown was hit by a pitch, junior Kevin Flynn singled. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch. One out later, Allemand grounded to the shortstop to drive in Brown, making it 2-2.

Amherst took a 3-2 lead in bottom of the fifth. Sophomore Mike Neff (New York, NY) reached on an error to lead off the inning. Two outs later, junior catcher Josh Card (North Adams, MA) capitalized, driving him in with a line drive down the leftfield line.

Edgar pitched six innings for the Jeffs. He allowed just two runs, both earned, on four hits and five walks, striking out three. Blank took the loss for the Jeffs. He tossed the final three frames, giving up four runs, two earned, on five hits and two walks while striking out one.

Allar was the offensive sparkplug for the Jeffs. He went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, and a run scored. Schaller was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored, and Card finished 1-for-4 with an RBI.

With the loss, Amherst would have to face Tufts University later in the day in an elimination game, with a trip to meet Williams in Sunday's championship round on the line.

In the afternoon, Amherst sent sophomore southpaw Ryan Platzbecker (Westlake, OH) and his perfect 5-0 record to the mound, while Tufts went with junior right-hander Jason Protano (Milford, MA). Platzbecker walked the first batter of the game, but got senior Brian Casey (Milford, MA) to ground into a double play before Bryan McDavitt (Holden, MA) popped up to end the inning.

Amherst threatened in the first by putting runners on second and third, but Protano escaped unharmed when he got Jared Banner (Brooklyn, NY) to pop up to sophomore Kevin Casey (Milford, MA) at second base. The younger Casey gave Tufts its first hit of the game in the second inning, but Amherst's middle infield turned its second double play of the game to end the inning.

Corey Pontes (Milton, MA) led off the top of the third with a single to left center, Caleb Sims (Burlington, MA) moved him over to second with a sacrifice bunt, and Chris Decembrele (Walpole, MA) drove him in with a single up the middle, giving Tufts a 1-0 lead after some textbook baseball.

After the Amherst defense turned its third double play of the game in the fourth inning, Banner got things going in the bottom half of the frame with a single through the right side. First-year Will Lawton (Newton, MA) grounded out to second but moved Banner over in the process, but Protano drew two more ground-ball outs and did not allow Banner to advance past second base, as the Jumbos entered the fifth inning with their 1-0 lead in tact.

Pontes made it a 3-0 game when what appeared to be a high fly ball to right field turned into a two-run homer that just made it over the eight-foot-high fence. Amherst got one back in the bottom of the fifth when Scott singled to right center and Josh Card (North Adams, MA) sent an RBI-double to the gap for his second hit of the game.

Tufts loaded the bases in the top of the sixth, and Kevin Casey quickly cleared them with a three-RBI triple to right center, as the Jumbos took a commanding 6-1 lead before recording an out in the inning. After Platzbecker walked a batter and Pontes picked up his third hit of the game to give Tufts a 7-1 lead, the Jeffs brought Mike Hinckley (Carlsbad, CA) in to stop the bleeding. Hinckley walked a pair and struck out a pair, allowing one run that was credited to Platzbecker, as the Jeffs found themselves in an 8-1 hole with time running out on their season.

Amherst got two runs back in the seventh and one more in the ninth, but Tufts chalked up another in the eighth and held on for the 9-4 win.

Platzbecker picked up the loss to move to 5-1, while Protano improved to 4-3 with the win. Protano threw eight innings, allowing eight hits while striking out four and walking two. In his final game with Amherst, senior Brian Donahue (Sudbury, MA) pitched three innings of relief, striking out four while allowing just one run on three hits.

Pontes led the Tufts offense by going 4-for-5 with a pair of runs and RBIs, while Decembrele and the Casey brothers had two hits apiece. Card led the Jeffs with three RBIs and a 3-for-4 performance, while Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Amherst finishes the season at 20-14, while Tufts improves to 25-11 and will play Williams College Sunday with the NESCAC title on the line. With a 2-0 record in the tournament thus far, the host Ephs will need to win only one game to claim their championship, while the Jumbos will have to win two games for the crown.