Amherst Takes Two from Saint Joseph's in Final Non-Conference Doubleheader

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team closed out its regular season non-conference slate by sweeping Saint Joseph's College in a pair of seven-inning games, 11-4 and 4-1. The Lord Jeffs increase their winning streak to five and are scheduled to return to action Sunday, May 4 for a crucial NESCAC West matchup with Williams College. Game time is set for 1 p.m. at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, MA.

Saint Joseph's threatened in the top of the second when sophomore Ian Lee doubled down the right field line to advance senior tri-captain Dustin Spiller to third base. First-year Eric LaBatte walked to load the bases, but Amherst starting pitcher Teddy Blank (Waban, MA) got Ricky Sarmento to ground into an inning-ending double play. Sarmento hit the ball hard but right to third baseman Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA), who threw home to get the lead runner before catcher Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) fired the ball to first for the second out.

The Lord Jeffs responded with the game's first run in the bottom of the second inning, with first-year Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) picking up his 25th RBI of the season. Shaffer sent a lazy fly ball to left field, where LaBatte made a sliding catch in foul territory, but it was enough to allow Allar to tag up from third base.

The Monks got one back in the top of the third when sophomore Ben Grant-Roy hit a bloop single to right field to bring around Wade Oliver, who had reached on a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Amherst broke the 1-1 tie in the home half of the third when an Allar grounder got through the infield on an error, bringing in first-year Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) and junior Mike Neff (New York, NY) to give the Jeffs a 3-1 advantage.

The game was broken open in the bottom of the fourth when Amherst took advantage of four hits and a pair of Saint Joseph's errors, as the Jeffs jumped out to an 8-1 lead. The five-run inning was highlighted by an RBI-double to right field by junior Nat Pedley (Rye, NY), as well as RBIs from seniors Evan Bruno (Williamsburg, VA) and Nick Boehm (Shaker Heights, OH).

The Monks loaded the bases in the top of the fifth on consecutive singles from Oliver, Brian Schools and Luke Enman, before a walk to Grant-Roy brought home a run and chased Blank from the game. First-year Max McKenna (Lexington, MA) came in for relief and induced two consecutive RBI-ground outs before ending the inning with a line out, as Amherst led 8-4 heading into the bottom of the fifth.

McKenna shut down the Monks in the remaining two innings and the Jeffs piled on another three runs in the fifth thanks to an RBI-double from Boehm and a pair of Saint Joseph's errors, as Amherst hung on for the 11-4 victory. Blank moved to 3-1 with the win, allowing four earned runs on seven hits and four walks with three strikeouts. McKenna's three innings of solid relief earned him his first collegiate save, as he surrendered just two hits and two walks while striking out a pair.

Mason Roberge moved to 5-2 on the year by giving up six runs—three of which were earned—in three innings. Chris Dion and Steve Stout combined to allow five runs—only one of which was earned—in the final three innings, as the Monks committed six errors on the day. Oliver and Spiller each had two hits for the visitors, with Grant-Roy picking up a pair of RBIs.

Neff and Bruno each went 2-for-4 and Pedley finished at 2-for-2, while Boehm was 1-for-3 with two RBIs to help pace the Amherst offense. Boehm and Shaffer each scored two runs, and Merrigan crossed the plate three times despite going 0-for-3 in the game.

Saint Joseph's starting pitcher Mike Burdin retired the first five batters he faced in the nightcap but quickly got into trouble when junior Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) and Shaffer hit back-to-back singles with two outs in the bottom of the second. Junior Nat Pedley (Rye, NY) picked up a pair of RBIs with his third triple of the season, as Amherst held a 2-0 lead after two innings.

The Monks cut their deficit in half by scoring an unearned run in the top of the third thanks to a pair of walks and a Schools single. With the bases loaded, Spiller sent a grounder to third base and reached when the throw to second got away, allowing Oliver to come home for Saint Joseph's first and only run.

After playing stellar defense in the top of the sixth, Amherst added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom half of the frame to take a 4-1 lead. Bruno got things going with a double to left field, and Schaller was intentionally walked on the ensuing at-bat. After a Shaffer single loaded the bases, Pedley singled on a flare down the right field line and Boehm followed with a sacrifice fly to center to cap off the Jeffs' scoring on the day.

First-year Pat Harris (Rochester, NY) was nearly un-hittable in his four inning of relief. After entering the game in the fourth inning with two runners on base and no outs, Harris put out the flames by inducing a 1-5-4 double play before getting Oliver to ground out to end the inning. Harris followed up by retiring nine of the next 10 batters he faced, as he picked up the win to move to 3-0, allowing just one hit and walking none with two strikeouts.

First-year Jim Cetkovski (Toronto, ON) started for Amherst and allowed just one unearned run on three hits, but he walked four batters and lasted just three innings to pick up the no-decision. Michael Burdin (2-3) accounted for all four runs and scattered five hits in his 5.1 innings of work, walking two and punching out two in the loss.

Shaffer went 3-for-3 in the nightcap and Pedley drove in three runs in his 2-for-3 performance, as the Jeffs managed just seven hits in the second game.

Saturday's doubleheader marked the final home games for seniors Boehm, Bruno, Allar, Josh Card (North Adams, MA) and Chris Edgar (Massapequa, NY). The class of 2008 is just the second group of Amherst seniors to post four consecutive 20-win seasons, as this year's group has gone a combined 87-41-3 in its four years and is just five wins shy of becoming the winningest class in head coach Bill Thurston's 43-year stint at Amherst.