AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team wrapped up its season series with NESCAC West rival Wesleyan University today at Memorial Field, with the Lord Jeffs hanging on for a 7-4 victory on their home field to move to 9-5 overall and 2-1 in the conference. The Cardinals drop to 7-11 (1-2 NESCAC West) with the loss.
Junior Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) got hit by a pitch to ignite a two-out rally in the bottom of the first inning, as Wesleyan starting pitcher Jon Sargent got out of his rhythm and walked senior co-captain Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) and junior Mike Neff (New York, NY) to load the bases. Junior Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) sent a grounder to third base and hustled to beat out the throw after the ball was bobbled, and first-year Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) followed up with a walk to bring in Allar and give the Jeffs an early 2-0 lead.
Shaffer led off the bottom of the fourth with a hard line drive to the gap in left center for a stand-up double, but Amherst could not bring him around. Powers once again got things going in the fifth when he was hit by another pitch, and he was quickly driven in by an Allar opposite-field home run—his third round-tripper of the season.
Junior southpaw Ryan Platzbecker (Westlake, OH) was on cruise control through the first five innings—striking out seven and walking just one—and returned to the hill in the top of the sixth with a 4-0 lead in tact. First-year Joe Giaimo led off the inning with a single to right center that broke up Platzbecker's no-hitter, but the Cardinals could not pick up their first run.
Senior Evan Bruno (Williamsburg, VA) took over as the Jeffs' designated hitter and led off the bottom of the sixth with a single through the right side, and advanced to third when sophomore Will Lawton (Newton, MA) lined a single down the right field line. Bruno scored on a wild pitch during the ensuing at-bat, as the Jeffs headed into the seventh with a 5-0 advantage.
Wesleyan's second hit came when junior Alex Early led off the seventh with a dribbler that wound up eight feet from the batter's box, as Platzbecker couldn't make a clean play on the ball. After another Platzbecker strikeout and a walk to senior co-captain Chris Simpson, senior Graham Douds sent a grounder back to the mound. Platzbecker turned to start the 6-4-3 double play, but his throw went into center field and allowed Early to come around for the Cardinals' first run of the game. First-year Jim Cetkovski (Toronto, ON) came in for relief and induced an infield fly before picking up a big strikeout to end the inning.
The bottom of the seventh was highlighted by Shaffer continuing his impressive day by picking up another RBI on a single to center, as Amherst chalked up another two runs to bump its lead to six. Cetkovski struck out the first two batters in the eighth, but junior Drew Dominguez kick started a rally with a single. An RBI-double by sophomore Brice Kelly was sandwiched in between a pair of walks, and Douds drove in two runs with a single to right field, as the Cardinals suddenly trailed 7-4.
After coming in to get the final out of the eighth, sophomore Teddy Blank (Waban, MA) returned to wrap things up in the ninth, as he earned his first save of the season by striking out a pair before getting the final batter of the game to pop up to senior co-captain Josh Card (North Adams, MA) behind the plate.
Platzbecker (1-0) struck out eight and walked two in 6.1 innings of work, allowing no earned runs and just two hits. Sargent picked up the loss to move to 2-2, allowing three earned runs on six hits while striking out seven and walking three. Allar and Shaffer were a combined 5-for-9 with four RBIs as the only Jeffs with multiple hits, with Allar scoring three of Amherst's seven runs.
The Lord Jeffs return to action Wednesday, Apr. 2 when they host Eastern Connecticut State, while the Cardinals will host Middlebury College Friday, Apr. 4 to begin another crucial conference series.