Amherst Picks Up Two Key Conference Wins Over Middlebury to Move to 6-3 in NESCAC West

By Justin Long

April 21, 2007

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team took a pair of key conference games from NESCAC West rival Middlebury College today to move to 11-9 overall and 6-3 in the conference. Senior Nick Kehoe (Washington Depot, CT) fired a one-hitter in the first game to lead the Lord Jeffs to a 2-1 victory, while the Amherst offense erupted for 16 runs in the second game and the Jeffs' pitching allowed only six runs.

Kehoe took the hill for Amherst looking to get back to his usual form after a rough outing his last time out. After the first batter of the game reached on an error, Kehoe retired the next three in order, two by way of the K.

Junior Jack Britton brought a 0.95 ERA and 3-0 record to Amherst, but the Lord Jeffs hit him hard early. After first-year Andy Thal (McLean, VA) lined out to left field, senior co-captain Mark Mazzone (Wilmette, IL) singled down the right field line and was moved over to third when sophomore Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) doubled to right center. Junior Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) drove in Mazzone with a single to center field, but first-year Erich Enns gunned out Powers at the plate to keep the score at 1-0.

Senior Tom Scott (Randolph, NJ) kept the bottom of the first going with a double to left center, advancing Allar to third, but Britton got senior co-captain Jared Banner (Brooklyn, NY) to ground out and end the inning, escaping with just a one-run deficit despite allowing four hits.

Sophomore Mark Shimrock wasted no time in the top of the second, belting a leadoff homer over the right field fence to tie the game at 1-1, but Kehoe kept his poise and retired the next three batters. Britton settled down in the bottom half of the frame, retiring the side in order and picking up his first strikeout of the game to end the inning.

The game was a 1-1 pitchers' duel until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Allar reached on a throwing error and was moved to second when the ball sailed out of play. Scott grounded out to the shortstop for the second out, but moved pinch runner Nat Pedley (Rye, NY) over to third on the play. Banner drilled the ball hard into the ground in Amherst's next at-bat, causing a high bounce over the third baseman's head, sending Pedley home for the go-ahead run.

The Panthers got something going in the top of the seventh when Shimrock reached on a Pedley fielding error, but Powers made a diving snag to rob Enns of a hit through the left side. Powers gathered himself and threw out Shimrock at second, and Kehoe closed out the game with his fifth strikeout of the day, finishing off his complete-game one-hitter.

Britton (3-1) struck out four and walked two, allowing just one hit after the first inning. The Amherst defense committed three errors, but Kehoe (3-1) did not walk a batter and did not give up a hit other than the Shimrock homer.

Amherst handed the ball to senior Brian Donahue (Sudbury, MA) for game two, but he found himself in an early hole when senior Noah Walker walked to load the bases with no outs after Gabe Broughton and Enns reached on singles. Donahue managed to escape with only a one-run deficit, with Shimrock bringing home Broughton with a sacrifice fly to left field.

Thal got the Jeffs started with a single through the right side after working sophomore Rob Palladino to a full count, and was followed by a Mazzone single to left center that advanced Thal to third. Powers kept the rally going with a single to right center, bringing in Thal to tie the game and sending Mazzone to third with no outs.

After Allar walked to load the bases, Scott was hit by a pitch to give Amherst a 2-1 lead. Palladino got Banner to send a grounder to shortstop, but his infield could not come up with an out, as Powers came in for the Jeffs' third run. First-year Will Lawton (Newton, MA) grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, but Allar came in to score and give Amherst a 4-1 lead.

Donahue walked the first two batters in the third inning, bringing first-year Teddy Blank (Waban, MA) in to pitch. Blank could not find the strike zone either, as he walked Walker to load the bases with no outs. Lanahan grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, but it was enough to bring in the Panthers' second run. Blank struck out Shimrock to end the inning, as Amherst headed into the bottom of the third with a 4-2 lead.

The Jeffs chalked up another three runs in the third, but the Panthers came back with four runs of their own in the fourth, highlighted by a 2-RBI single by Enns that chased Blank from the game and brought in first-year left-hander John D'Angelo (Woodbridge, CT).

Scott drove in Powers with a single to give Amherst an 8-6 lead in the fourth, but neither team scored again until the bottom of the seventh, as D'Angelo and Middlebury's Steve Shortle were dominant on the mound. Amherst took a 9-6 lead in the seventh when the Jeffs racked up three hits, capped by an RBI-single from Thal that drove in Lawton.

Amherst erupted for seven insurance runs in the eighth to take a commanding ten-run lead, allowing D'Angelo to close out the game and give the Jeffs a crucial 16-6 win.

Powers led the Amherst offense in the second game, going 4-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Thal was just as impressive at 4-for-6 with a pair of RBIs and runs scored. Allar, Scott, Lawton and sophomore Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) each had two hits, as the Jeffs combined for 18 hits in game two.

Blank picked up the win to move to 2-1 on the season, but it was D'Angelo who shined in the second game for Amherst, allowing just two hits in 5.2 innings of work. Palladino picked up the loss for the Panthers and moved to 2-1 on the season.

The Lord Jeffs return to action Monday for a road match-up with Springfield College at 3:30 p.m.