Amherst Splits Doubleheader with Saint Mary's; Jeffs Move to 4-2

FORT MYERS, FL – The Amherst College baseball team could not complete the comeback in game one of a doubleheader with Saint Mary's University Tuesday afternoon—ultimately losing 9-6—but the Lord Jeffs recovered to earn an 11-3 victory in the nightcap. Amherst moves to 4-2 on its Spring Break trip and will take on Saint Lawrence University Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Saint Mary's jumped out to an early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but junior Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) got the Jeffs back in the game when he crushed a hard line drive over the 400-foot marker in left center field to tie things up at 2-2. Senior co-captain Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) got things going in the inning with a single to center field and came around to score on Schaller's blast.

Amherst starting pitcher Teddy Blank (Waban, MA) got into some trouble in the bottom of the third when Saint Mary's regained the lead at 3-2 and then had runners at second and third with two outs. A single was hit up the middle and appeared to be a sure-thing for a base hit, but first-year Jose Espinosa (Ridgefield, CT) sprawled out to his left to make the stop, then fired a strong throw across the diamond to beat the runner and save at least one run.

Defensive miscues hurt the Jeffs in the bottom of the fourth, as Saint Mary's picked up another four runs thanks to three hits and a pair of misplayed balls in the outfield. Amherst came back to load the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth but could not come up with the big hit.

Junior third baseman Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) was the second Amherst batter to reach the 400-foot mark in the game, as he led off the sixth inning with a homer to right center to cut his team's deficit to four runs. The Jeffs once again loaded the bases with two outs, but this time junior Mike Neff (New York, NY) singled through the left side to bring two around. The throw in from the outfield was off target and made its way into the dugout, causing another runner to come around and touch home as Amherst suddenly trailed 7-6 heading into the bottom of the sixth.

Saint Mary's led off their half of the sixth with a single and stole second on the ensuing at-bat, but senior co-captain Josh Card (North Adams, MA) picked the runner off with some heads-up play behind the plate. Southpaw reliever Ryan Platzbecker (West Lake, OH) followed up with a strikeout as things started to look up for Amherst, but the Cardinals responded with a walk, RBI-double and RBI-single to increase their lead to 9-6 before Platzbecker ended the inning with another K.

Amherst brought its power hitters to the plate in the top of the seventh but could not complete the comeback, as the Cardinals held on for the 9-6 win. Neff went 2-for-4 as the only Amherst player with multiple hits, with the Jeffs combining for just six hits in the game. Blank allowed six earned runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings of work, striking out two and walking four. Platzbecker struck out four and walked one in 2.1 innings, surrendering three hits for a pair of earned runs.

Powers and Schaller got things going in the second game by picking up RBI-singles to get the Jeffs out to a 2-0 lead, giving first-year Pat Harris (Rochester, NY) some early run support in his debut as a starter. The Cardinals loaded the bases in the top of the third inning, but Harris picked up a big strikeout and was helped out by fellow rookie Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA), who made an outstanding sliding catch in left field to save at least one run.

The Jeffs slowly chipped away and carried a 4-0 lead into the fifth, when the Cardinals scored on a wild pitch and then a 2-RBI check-swing bloop hit down the left field line that brought in two runs, as Saint Mary's trailed just 4-3 after four and a half innings.

Amherst responded with three runs of its own in the bottom half of the frame thanks to RBI-singles from first-year Alex Coburn (Brookline, MA) and Merrigan, which were followed by a Neff sacrifice fly that brought home junior Nat Pedley (Rye, NY). Card began the rally with a one-out bunt single, marking his third base hit by way of the bunt in two days.

Coburn and Pedley each added RBIs in the sixth inning to help Amherst chalk up another four runs, but it was more than enough as the Jeffs hung on for the 11-3 victory. Amherst had 11 hits in the second game thanks to two apiece from Neff, Powers, Schaller, Card and Coburn.

Harris allowed just one hit in 4.2 innings of work to move to 1-0 as a starter, but he allowed five walks to go along with his five strikeouts. Fellow first-year Max McKenna (Lexington, MA) closed the game for Amherst, surrendering just one earned run on one hit and one walk in 2.1 innings.