Amherst Splits with Hamilton to Close Out Three-Game Series

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team earned a 10-0 victory over Hamilton College in game one of Sunday's NESCAC West doubleheader but could not complete the series sweep, as the visiting Continentals came back to win the nightcap, 6-3. The Lord Jeffs move to 11-6-1 (4-2 NESCAC West), while Hamilton is now 5-9 overall and 1-2 in the conference.

Amherst senior co-captain Josh Card (North Adams, MA) led off the bottom of the first by sending the first pitch he saw to left center field for a single, and he was followed by four consecutive singles from his teammates, as the first five batters in the Jeffs' lineup came around to score in the inning. Junior Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA), first-year Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) and junior Mike Neff (New York, NY) each had an RBI in the first frame, while senior co-captain Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) drove in a pair to help his team take an early 5-0 lead.

Neff stretched a single into a double in the third inning as he dove head first into second base after dropping the ball into right field for a hit. The junior second baseman then scored when Card belted a double off the left field fence, with first-year Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) and Powers following up with an RBI each to give Amherst an 8-0 advantage.

Starting pitcher Ryan Platzbecker (Westlake, OH) was cruising for the Jeffs, striking out the side in the top of the sixth to bring his K total to 10 before senior Evan Bruno (Williamsburg, VA) capped off the scoring with a two-RBI double to left center in the bottom half of the frame.

Platzbecker (2-0) allowed just three hits and struck out 11 for the complete-game victory, while junior Jake Saidman picked up the loss to move to 1-2. Four Amherst players had two hits in the first game, while Shaffer went 3-for-4 and scored twice.

In game two, sophomore southpaw Max Foster's defense struggled behind him, as the Jeffs took a 1-0 lead on an unearned run thanks to three first-inning Hamilton errors. Amherst loaded the bases in the second and third innings but could not capitalize either time.

First-year Jeff Keenan (West Hartford, CT) walked the first batter of the game but then retired 15 of the next 16 batters he faced, with the lone base runner reaching on an error. Keenan carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning but had it spoiled when first-year Michael Matt singled to center field. Gideon Clark then singled to right and senior quad-captain Dan Hood walked to load the bases, putting Keenan in his first jam of the day.

With two outs and the bases juiced, senior quad-captain Tom Monfiletto sent a line drive past Keenan and into center field for a two-RBI single. Matt Mancini then walked to reload the bases and first-year Joe Buicko doubled down the right field line for another two RBIs to chase Keenan from the game, as Hamilton went from being no-hit to suddenly working with a 4-1 lead.

Amherst got two runs back in the eighth inning thanks to RBI-singles from Card and Allar, but Hood came in for relief to pick up a big strikeout that ended the inning. The Jeffs seemed to be putting themselves in good position for a late-game comeback, but Hamilton gained some breathing room in the ninth after senior Jack Maloney and sophomore Grady Vigneau picked up RBI-singles.

The Jeffs put a runner on base in the bottom of the ninth but could not cut their deficit, as Hamilton held on for the 6-3 win for its first conference victory of the season. Buicko went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in the nightcap and was 3-for-7 on the day to lead the Continentals. Foster surrendered eight hits in 7.0 innings to move to 2-1, striking out three and walking five along the way. Hood allowed one hit in 1.1 innings of relief to earn his first save.

Keenan struck out six and walked three, allowing four earned runs on four hits in 5.2 innings of work. First-year Mike Sutton (Montreal, QC) allowed one earned run on a hit and a walk in 2.2 innings of relief, with first-year Max McKenna (Lexington, MA) giving up three hits and a run before recording the final two outs for Amherst pitchers on the day.

First-year Jose Espinosa (Ridgefield, CT) went 3-for-3 in the second game, with Neff and Allar each picking up another two hits. Shaffer went 1-for-5 in the nightcap to extend his hitting streak to nine games. Amherst left 15 men on base in the second game.

The Lord Jeffs return to action Tuesday, Apr. 8 for a non-conference game at Keene State.