By Justin Long
April 20, 2007
AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning with a runner on third base and two outs, but Middlebury's Justin Wright closed out his complete game with a strikeout, handing the Lord Jeffs a 3-2 loss. The Jeffs and Panthers both move to 4-3 in the NESCAC West standings and will meet up Saturday for a doubleheader in Amherst.
Middlebury threatened in the top of the first by putting runners at the corners, but Amherst junior hurler Chris Edgar (Massapequa, NY) picked up his second strikeout of the inning to end the early threat and hold the Panthers scoreless. The Lord Jeffs were sat down in order by Wright in the bottom half of the inning, the first of five 1-2-3 innings for the lefthander.
Senior tri-captain Noah Walker got things going for the Panthers in the third when he doubled to right center, and was eventually driven in by an Erich Enns single that gave Middlebury a 1-0 lead. The Panthers chalked up another run in the fourth inning when junior Gabe Broughton started a two-out rally with a single to right field. Broughton advanced to second on a wild pitch and was brought home on a double from junior tri-captain Nick Lefeber.
Wright did not allow a base runner in the third, fourth, fifth or sixth innings, with eight of 12 outs coming via groundout. Middlebury tallied what would be the game-winning run in the seventh when Mark Shimrock singled through the right side to bring in Walker. Amherst brought in first-year Teddy Blank (Waban, MA) after Edgar walked Enns to load the bases with one out, and the rookie right-hander got the Jeffs out of the jam with a pop-up for the second out and a fly-out to right field to close the inning.
Amherst's first threat came in the bottom of the seventh when Wright walked senior co-captain Jared Banner (Brooklyn, NY) after retiring the first two hitters, marking Wright's first walk of the game. Junior Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) singled to left field and was followed by first-year Will Lawton (Newton, MA) drawing a walk to load the bases. Wright got out of his jam by getting sophomore Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) to fly out to right field, preserving the 3-0 lead.
Middlebury took advantage of some sloppy Amherst defense in the eighth inning and loaded the bases, looking to add some insurance runs, but sophomore left-hander Ryan Platzbecker (Westlake, OH) got Shimrock to pop up to first-year shortstop Andy Thal (McLean, VA) to end the threat.
Sophomore Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) doubled with one out in the bottom of the eighth and stole third with some heads-up base running. Wright looked as though he would escape unharmed yet again when he got Thal to ground out to third base and got senior co-captain Mark Mazzone (Wilmette, IL) to send another grounder to third base, but John Lanahan could not handle his second attempt of the inning, as the ball got through his legs, allowing Schaller to score for the Jeffs' first run of the game.
After a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, Banner led off the bottom half of the frame with a single up the middle. Junior Josh Card (North Adams, MA) moved Banner to second with a sacrifice bunt, allowing Lawton to pick up an RBI with a single to right field. Lawton advanced to second when the throw from right field sailed over the cut-off man's head in an attempt to gun out Banner at the plate, putting another runner in scoring position with just one out in the inning.
Powers grounded out to the first baseman in Amherst's next at-bat, but it was enough to move Lawton over to third base. Wright battled with sophomore Nat Pedley (Rye, NY) in the next at-bat, but eventually won the battle when a nasty curve ball gave the hurler his third strikeout of the game, as Middlebury hung on for the 3-2 win.
Wright (2-1) allowed five hits and one earned run in nine innings of work, striking out three and walking two. Edgar (2-4) picked up seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings, allowing ten hits and three earned runs.
Broughton, Walker, Lanahan and Enns each finished with two hits for the Panthers, with Walker and Lanahan each going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks. Lawton was the only Jeff with multiple hits (2-for-3) on the day, adding a walk and picking up Amherst's lone RBI.