Amherst Drops Two Close Games to Fifth-Ranked Trinity

By Ryan O'Donnell '08

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team treated its largest home crowd of the season to an extra-inning affair with fifth-ranked and undefeated rival Trinity College in game one of Saturday afternoon's doubleheader. The teams battled back and forth during the scheduled seven innings before Trinity took an 11-inning thriller, 7-5. The nightcap was just as close, with the Bantams pulling out a 6-4 victory to complete the sweep and improve to 30-0 on the season.

Trinity jumped ahead in the first inning of game one when Kent Graham's single brought home Ryan Piacentini. The Bantams pushed the lead to 2-0 in the third when Piacentini's two-out single drove in Tim Bourdon.

The Jeffs answered in the bottom half of the third with three runs to take the lead. Singles from senior captain Josh Card (North Adams, MA), junior Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA), senior co-captain Neal Allar (Floyds, Knobs, IN) and first-year Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) gave the Jeffs their first lead of the game. Amherst took advantage of a pair of Trinity errors in the fourth inning when Card crossed the plate for his second run scored of the game to give his team a 4-3 advantage, as each team plated a run in the inning.

Trinity regained the lead in the fifth on a two-RBI single by Tom DiBenedetto, and neither team would score again until the seventh inning. Allar smashed a stand-up double on the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the seventh off the left centerfield fence. After a strikeout, junior Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) stepped to the plate and sent a ground ball down the third base line. Trinity's Tim Bourdon made a costly throwing error and senior Nick Boehm (Shaker Heights, OH)—who had pinch run for Allar—was awarded home plate. Amherst was unable to advance Schaller from second and the teams headed for extra innings notched at 5-5.

Trinity threatened in the top of the tenth inning when Matt Sullivan cracked a single to right field. A walk and an error loaded the bases for the Bantams before Sean Killeen popped out to right field. Trinity took the lead in the top of the eleventh inning when DiBenedetto's double in the left field gap plated Graham before Jack Abbott rolled a single through the left side to drive home DiBenedetto.

Amherst was unable to find late inning magic and dropped a heartbreaker to the Bantams, 7-5. Rookie pitcher Ryan Healy (Westport, CT) picked up the loss while Trinity reliever Jeremiah Bayer (6-0) picked up the win. Bayer allowed only three hits in 5.2 innings of relief, while Amherst first-year Jeff Keenan (West Hartford, CT) was equally as effective, scattering five hits for no runs in 5.2 innings of middle relief.

DiBenedetto and Sullivan each had four hits, while Graham and Piacentini had two apiece. Card paced Amherst with a 3-for-6 game, with Allar, Shaffer and senior Evan Bruno (Williamsburg, VA) each racking up a pair of hits.

Trinity jumped out to a four run lead in the nightcap after back-to-back first-inning homers from Killeen and Graham. The Jeffs wouldn't go away easily and in the bottom of the second, Schaller blasted a two-run homer down the left field line to cut the deficit in half.

Trinity finally got to Amherst reliever Pat Harris (Rochester, NY) in the top of the fourth inning. Three straight singles from Graham, DiBenedetto and James Wood extended the Bantam lead to 5-2. The Jeffs smacked three singles of their own in the bottom of the fourth but they amounted to nothing as Amherst left the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Jeffs made a stellar defensive play in the top of the fifth on a ground ball to rookie shortstop Jose Espinosa (Ridgefield, CT). With runners on second and third, Espinosa charged a slow grounder and fired home to Allar who stuffed Trinity's Matt Sullivan at the plate before tagging him out.

Boehm got the Amherst offense rolling in the fifth inning with a single up the middle. First-year Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) doubled to left center before Powers blooped a single down the right field line to drive in Boehm. A fielder's choice from Allar scored Merrigan but the Jeffs left two runners on and headed to the sixth down 5-4.

The stellar Amherst defense continued in the sixth when Powers made a fantastic diving catch ranging to his right side to steal a double from Graham. It continued in the seventh when Shaffer hosed Trinity pinch runner Robert Martin at the plate after a single from Barnar, but the Bantams still managed to add an insurance run on an RBI-single from Killeen.

Allar led off the bottom of the seventh with a single through the left side but Amherst could not complete the comeback, as Trinity improved to 30-0 on the season and the Jeffs fell to 17-9-1. Junior Mike Neff (New York, NY) went 3-for-3 in the nightcap and Merrigan went 2-for-3, while Graham was 3-for-4 and Killeen finished at 2-for-5 with four RBIs.

Mike Regan improved to 7-0 with the win, allowing three earned runs and eight hits in four innings of work. Derek Anderson picked up the save, scattering four hits in three innings of relief. For Amherst, junior Ryan Platzbecker (Westlake, OH) suffered the loss to drop to 2-1. The Jeffs' four pitchers in the nightcap allowed a combined 10 walks, while Regan and Anderson walked just one apiece.

The Lord Jeffs return to action Sunday for a doubleheader at Saint Michael's College.