AMHERST, MA – After 14 runs, 28 hits, and three and a half hours of competition, the Amherst College and Eastern Connecticut State University baseball teams ended in a 7-7 tie at a cold and windy Memorial Field. The Lord Jeffs carried a 7-5 lead into the last inning but could not hang on, as the Warriors scored twice in the top of the ninth and then retired the side in order to close out the nine-inning game.
After first-year southpaw Mike Sutton (Montreal, QC) fanned two batters in the top of the first, Amherst's offense got going in the bottom half of the frame when senior co-captain Josh Card (North Adams, MA) drove the ball to deep left center for a one-out double. Fellow co-captain Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) brought Card around with a two-out single up the middle to give the Jeffs their first run of the game.
The first inning continued for Amherst when first-year Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) crushed a two-run shot to right center field—his second long ball of the season—to increase his hitting streak to six games. Junior Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) followed suit by belting an opposite-field homer to right field, as the back-to-back jacks gave the Jeffs an early 4-0 lead.
The Warriors got two unearned runs in the top of the third when first-year Rob Chmiel led off with a walk and was brought around by senior Ismael Bolorin, whose grounder to second base went from being a double play ball to a three-base error. Sophomore Melvin Castillo followed up with a sacrifice fly to center field that gave ECSU its second run of the day.
After another Amherst error placed a runner on third base with one out in the fourth inning, the Warriors tried to cut their deficit to one run with a squeeze play but could not make contact on their bunt attempt. Card fired the ball down to third base for the pickoff and Sutton finished the inning with his sixth strikeout of the day, as the Jeffs held on to their 4-2 lead.
The bottom of the fifth inning mirrored the bottom of the first as Allar sent another single up the middle and Schaller belted another homer, this time taking a curve ball deep to left field. First-year Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) followed up with a pinch-hit double down the right field line but was stranded at second base, as Amherst took a 6-2 lead.
Tristan Hobbes, John Parke and Jim Schult led off the top of the sixth with three consecutive singles and all eventually came around to score in the inning, with Schult, Travis Bass and Bolorin each picking up RBIs to cut the Warriors' deficit to one run at 6-5.
Schaller moved to 4-for-4 on the day with a leadoff single to left field in the bottom of the seventh, and he was driven in by first-year Jose Espinosa (Ridgefield, CT) to give Amherst some crucial breathing room. Sophomore Teddy Blank (Waban, MA) walked the first two batters in the top of the eighth but settled down and picked up a big strikeout before getting the Warriors to fly out to right and line out to center to preserve the 7-5 lead.
Junior Andrew Smiley kick-started the ECSU rally in the top of the ninth with a double down the left field line and was moved over to third on a Hobbes single. A wild pitch scored Smiley and put Hobbes on second before Parke walked to chase Blank from the game with no outs in the inning.
Junior lefty Mike Landman (Brooklyn, NY) was called on to stop the bleeding for the Jeffs, and he got Schult to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, sending Hobbes to third base. The Amherst bench started to storm the field when Landman threw what appeared to strike three to the ensuing batter, but the umpire said the ball missed the outside corner. Andrew Magliola made Landman and the Jeffs pay on the next pitch when he singled to left field to bring home the tying run.
The Warriors were not done yet, as Landman walked the next two batters to load the bases. First-year Max McKenna (Lexington, MA) came to the mound as the Jeffs' fifth pitcher of the day and picked up a crucial strikeout to keep things notched at 7-7 heading into the bottom of the ninth. Chris Wojick shut down Amherst in order and the game was called due to darkness, as the marathon ended in a rare tie.
Sutton gave up just four hits and did not allow an earned run in five solid innings of work, but he was denied his second win of the season. Schaller and Card each had four of Amherst's 17 hits, as every field player in the Jeffs' starting lineup had a hit on the day.
Amherst moves to 9-5-1 on the season and returns to action Saturday to kick off a three-game weekend series with NESCAC West rival Hamilton College, while ECSU moves to 9-8-1.