By Justin Long
May 11, 2007
NORTH ADAMS, MA – The Tufts University Jumbos took on the Lord Jeffs of Amherst College Friday afternoon at Joe Wolfe Field on day one of the 2007 NESCAC Baseball Championship Tournament. Amherst took the opening day game 8-7, and advances to face tournament host Williams tomorrow.
Junior left-hander Adam Telian (Stoughton, MA) made quick work of Amherst to start the game, picking up a pair of strikeouts with a pop-up sandwiched in between. Senior Nick Kehoe (Washington Depot, CT) took the hill for the Jeffs and got through his first inning unharmed, as both pitchers got off on the right foot.
Junior Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) led off the top of the second with a walk and was moved over to second base by a Will Lawton (Newton, MA) sacrifice bunt. After Allar advanced to third on a passed ball, Telian got sophomore Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) to pop up to the shortstop for the second out. Sophomore Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) roped a single up the middle to bring in the first run of the game and was moved over to third when senior co-captain Mark Mazzone (Wilmette, IL) dropped a single over the second baseman's head.
Junior Josh Card (North Adams, MA) kept the two-out rally going by crushing a double to center field, as both Schaller and Mazzone came around to score. The Jumbos ended the rally by picking off Card at second base to head into the dugout trailing 3-0.
Telian was chased from the game when first-year Andy Thal (McLean, VA) and seniors Tom Scott (Randolph, NJ) and Jared Banner (Brooklyn, NY) strung together three singles to begin the top of the third, bringing first-year David Gibbs (Harrison, NY) in to pitch. Allar took a hack at the first pitch he saw, sending a single through the right side to bring in Thal and Scott, as Kehoe returned to the mound with a comfortable 5-0 lead.
Amherst tacked on another two runs in the fourth on just one hit to increase the lead to seven runs, but the Jumbos stormed back in the bottom half of the inning. Senior Bryan McDavitt (Holden, MA) led off with a single to center, and first-year Corey Pontes (Milton, MA) reached on a one-out walk. Senior Chris Decembrele (Walpole, MA) provided his team's first runs of the game with a 2-RBI double to right center, and was driven in by an Eric Catalanotti (Grafton, MA) single.
First-year Caleb Sims (Burlington, MA) kept the rally going with a single through the left side, and sophomore Dave Katzman (North Andover, MA) followed by beating out a ground ball to Thal at shortstop. Senior Brian Casey (Milford, MA) drove a single over Schaller's head in right field to bring around Catalanotti and Sims, sending Katzman to third.
The one-out rally chased Kehoe from the game, bringing in first-year left-hander John D'Angelo (Woodbridge, CT). D'Angelo got sophomore Kevin Casey (Milford, MA) to fly out to right, but the ball was hit deep enough to bring in Katzman for the Jumbos' sixth run of the inning. After getting just one hit in the first three innings, Tufts erupted for six hits in the fourth and cut their deficit to one run.
After Lawton reached on a fielder's choice in the top of the sixth, Powers roped a single to left center. The speedy Lawton had third base on his mind the whole way, and was able to hustle in to beat the throw from left field, setting up runners at the corners. Schaller followed with his second RBI-single of the day, giving Amherst an 8-6 lead and ending Gibbs' afternoon on the mound.
Tufts put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the sixth and the heart of its line-up coming up, but D'Angelo got Kevin Casey to send a grounder to third base; Powers snagged the tough hop, stepped on third for the first out and send a hard throw over to Allar at first. Allar scooped the short throw to complete the double play, as the Jeffs retained their 8-6 lead.
With two outs and runners on the corners in the bottom of the eighth, Kevin Casey sent a dribbler toward Powers at third. Powers fielded the ball cleanly and quickly fired it over to Allar at first, but Casey was able to beat out the throw to pick up the RBI, cutting the deficit to one run. McDavitt came to the plate looking to at least tie the game before heading into the ninth, but D'Angelo picked up a huge strikeout to end the inning, marking the first time Amherst pitching had retired McDavitt on the day.
Junior Steve Ragonese (Upper Saddle River, NJ) picked a good time for his first hit of the day, as he led off the bottom of the ninth with a single up the middle. Pontes followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Ragonese to second, bringing first-year Teddy Blank (Waban, MA) in to pitch for Amherst. After Decembrele walked to put runners at the corners, pinch-hitter Kyle Backstrom (Worcester, MA) attempted to bunt with two strikes, but was unable to put the ball in play, marking the second out of the inning.
The Amherst bench started to storm the field when Blank threw what appeared to be strike three to Sims, but the umpire called the pitch outside. Blank kept his cool and did not let the runners on second and third faze him, as he came back with another fastball on the outside corner, this time getting the called third strike to end the game.
Thal, Banner, Allar and Schaller each had multiple hits for Amherst, while Brian Casey, McDavitt, Katzman and Sims each had multi-hit afternoons for Tufts. D'Angelo struck out four and walked one, picking up the win to move to 4-1 on the season. Blank earned his third save of the year, while Telia suffered the loss to move to 5-2 on the season. Each team had 14 hits in the game.
In other NESCAC tournament action, host Williams College defeated Bowdoin College, 1-0. Amherst will take on Williams Saturday at 10:30 at Bobby Coombs Field, while Tufts will return to Joe Wolfe Field Saturday to take on Bowdoin at 10:30.