Amherst Drops Slugfest to Keene State, 18-12

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team took on non-conference foe Keene State College this afternoon at Memorial Field. Amherst fell behind 9-3 early in the game, before scoring six runs to tie the game 9-9. The Owls rallied down the stretch to take an 18-12 win, dropping Amherst to 9-9 on the season.

After a lead-off single from Keene State's Jeff Perkins, Amherst rookie right-fielder Kevin Heller (Brooklyn, NY) nearly doubled-up Perkins at first after making a great over the shoulder catch on a hard-hit ball by Jamie Chevalier. Perkins advanced to second on a failed pick-off attempt, and scored the game's first run on a liner up the middle by Bobby Doyon. Amherst pitcher Jeff Keenan (West Hartford, CT) got out of the two-on jam with a double-play ball to end the inning. 

In the bottom of the first, Amherst's Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) ripped a two-out single through the right side of the infield and advanced to second on a failed pick-off. Heller tied the game with a deep shot to the gap in right field, bringing Shaffer home for his team-leading 27th RBI of the season.

The Owls took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second as Tyler DiPrato scored from third on a bloop single by Beau Darak. Perkins drew a bases-loaded walk to plate Cody Callahan, before Chevalier put Keene up 5-1 with a two-RBI liner down the right-field line. The hit left baserunners on second and third with no outs, and Keene State's Keith Patnode at the dish, Amherst traded one more run for the first out of the frame as sophomore left-fielder Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) made a diving catch in foul territory.

With the Keene lead at 7-1, Amherst brought rookie Hayden Metz (Ridgefield, CT) on in relief, who threw just one pitch to induce a 1-6-3 inning-ending double-play. In the bottom of the second, Thomas Wheeler (Minnetonka, MN) led off the inning with a single, before twice advancing on passed balls. Wheeler scored on a slow ground-out to short by Max Einhorn (Scarsdale, NY).

The Owls increased their lead back to six runs at 8-2 in the top of the third, before Wheeler gunned out Perkins trying to steal second. Amherst carried momentum to the plate, where Merrigan doubled to lead off the bottom of the frame. Merrigan advanced on a ground-out, before scoring on a Shaffer sacrifice fly to deep left field. 

Amherst quickly took a run back in the bottom of the fourth, putting Powers and Wheeler on first and second with a pair of no-out singles. On an Alex Coburn (Brookline, MA) grounder, Keene botched the beginning of a double-play attempt, allowing Powers to score, and Wheeler to move to third. During the next at-bat, Wheeler scored on an Einhorn bloop single down the left-field line. The Lord Jeffs closed the gap to 9-6 as Coburn crossed the plate during a successful Keene double-play. Amherst closed the margin to 9-7 as Will Lawton (Newton, MA) drove in a run on a grounder that caused both a fielding and throwing error. 

Amherst tied the game in the bottom of the fifth as Heller picked up a lead-off single, before senior co-captain Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) hit a two-run homerun to right-center. Powers' third round-tripper of the season tied the game at 9-9, which is how the inning would end. 

Keene regained the lead at 10-9 in the top of the sixth, as Chevalier scored on a double down the left-field line by Doyon. By the end of the stanza, the Owls held an 11-9 advantage before Amherst was held off the board for the first time in the bottom of the sixth. 

The Owls blew the game back open in the top of the seventh inning, hanging five more runs during an impressive two-out rally. Amherst came to the plate trailing 16-9 in the bottom of the seventh, needed a second six-run comeback of the day to get back into the game.

The Lord Jeffs started the bottom of the seventh with the first five batters reaching on four singles and a hit-by-pitch. A fielder's choice with sophomore Jose Espinosa (Ridgefield, CT) batting scored another run for Amherst, closing the gap to 16-12 before the end the frame. 

Keene added a run in each the eighth and ninth innings, as Amherst was unable to close the gap, dropping an 18-12 result. Amherst's Metz took the loss, dropping his record to 2-2 on the season, while Jeff Pelkey picked up the win for the Owls. Amherst was led offensively by Powers who went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and a homerun. Heller and Merrigan had three hits apiece as Amherst piled up 17 hits on the day. Keene was led by Doyon, who finished 5-for-6 with four RBIs, while Chevalier scored five runs and drove in another three.

Amherst will travel to face NESCAC and Little Three archrival Williams College on Saturday for a doubleheader in Williamstown.