Amherst Earns Pair of Huge Wins at Archrival Williams

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Amherst College baseball team got back on track by earning a pair of significant wins at archrival Williams College in a NESCAC West doubleheader on Saturday. The Lord Jeffs snapped the Ephs' 11-game winning streak to improve to 11-9 (4-3 NESCAC West), dropping Williams to 11-7 (3-2 NESCAC West). 

Sophomore Ryan Healy (Westport, CT) led Amherst to victory in the first game by allowing only one run on two hits for the complete-game win, striking out seven and walking one. Healy held Williams scoreless through five innings, retiring 15 consecutive batters after the first two Ephs reached base in the first inning. 

Healy (1-1) allowed a run in the bottom of the sixth inning but cruised through the seventh to pick up his first win of the season. Although it was his first victory of 2009, Healy has had a phenomenal season for Amherst. In addition to striking out 35 batters in 31.2 innings on the year, Healy boasts a 2.56 earned run average while holding opponents to a measly .165 batting average. 

The Jeffs got on the board when senior Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) led off the top of the fourth inning with a walk, later scoring on an RBI-single by sophomore Alex Coburn (Brookline, MA). The game was broken open when the visitors chalked up 10 runs in the fifth, with Williams managing to get only one back in the sixth. 

Amherst's 10-run outburst was highlighted by a Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) double to center field that scored two runs and chased Eph starting pitcher Dan Benz from the game. Junior Will Lawton (Newton, MA) added a two-RBI single, while first-year Thomas Wheeler (Minnetonka, MN) and sophomore Jose Espinosa (Ridgefield, CT) each had an RBI-single and Coburn added an RBI-double. The Jeffs added their 12th run in the seventh inning when Lawton drove in Espinosa with a single to right field. 

Matching Healy's dominating performance were sophomore Max McKenna (Lexington, MA) and senior Ryan Platzbecker (Westlake, OH), who combined to allow only three hits and one earned run in the nightcap. After McKenna struck out two, walked a pair and allowed two hits in 5.0 innings to improve to 2-3, the senior lefthander allowed one hit in the final four frames to pick up his first save of the season. Platzbecker struck out four and walked only one, dropping his ERA to 2.88. 

Williams struck first in the nightcap by scoring its lone run in the bottom of the first inning, but Amherst responded with one run in the second inning, two in the third and one in the fifth. Senior captain Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) put his team on the board with an RBI-double to left center that scored Coburn, who went 2-for-4 in each game. 

The Jeffs' two runs in the third came when Shaffer ripped an RBI-single to center field before coming around to score on a double by Powers. Shaffer also scored Amherst's fourth run when Wheeler singled to left field for his fourth hit of the day. Sophomore Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) added a pair of hits and scored a run in the second game. 

Powers stretched his hitting streak to nine games to increase his season batting average to .447, while Shaffer hit safely for the seventh consecutive game. Wheeler and Coburn each went 4-for-8 on the afternoon to pace the Lord Jeffs' offense. 

Amherst head coach Bill Thurston improved his career record against Williams to 92-34-1 (.728). The Jeffs and Ephs will wrap up their season series on May 3 when they help to celebrate the 150th anniversary of collegiate baseball with a 1 p.m. game at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield, Mass.

Amherst will host Middlebury College in a crucial three-game series this weekend, with the first game scheduled for Friday, Apr. 17 at 3:30 p.m.