Amherst Splits Doubleheader with Wesleyan in Home Opening Weekend

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team played its 2009 home opener this afternoon, splitting a pair of games against NESCAC and Little Three archrival Wesleyan University. Amherst took the first game 7-4, before watching the Cardinals take the three-game series with a 13-5 win in the nightcap.

After Wesleyan won yesterday's series opener 3-1 at home, Amherst saw the Cardinals open up a quick 2-0 lead in just the second inning of game one today. Amherst responded in the bottom of the second, scoring three runs to take a 3-2 lead. After Lord Jeff rookie Kevin Heller (Brooklyn, NY) led off with a single, senior co-captain Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) drew a walk. First-year Thomas Wheeler (Minnetonka, MN) and sophomore Alex Coburn (Brookline, MA) plated the two base runners with an RBI double and RBI single, respectively. Wheeler ultimately scored on a fielder's choice to put Amherst on top.

Wesleyan regained the lead in the top of the third inning, scoring another two runs. With one out, the Amherst pitching loaded the bases with a combination of two hit-batters, a walk and a balk. After the Jeff's walked in the tying run with David Skura at the plate, Nick Gonsalves put the Cardinals up 4-3 on a sacrafice fly to right field.

Amherst responded with four un-answered runs over the next three innings en route to a 7-4 win in seven. The Jeffs tied the game in the bottom of the third as Heller knocked in Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) with a single to center field. 

Amherst scored the eventual game-winning run in the bottom of the fourth, as Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) tripled to bring home a pinch-running John Wagner (Evanston, IL). Merrigan also came home to score on a wild pitch. 

Heller finished game one 3-for-3 with two runs-scored and an RBI to lead the Amherst offense, while Derek Dettorre went 1-for-2 with two runs for Wesleyan. 

Ryan Platzbecker (Westlake, OH) ultimately took the win for Amherst, going 4.2 innings, while giving up five hits and all four runs. Max McKenna (Lexington, MA) pitched the final 2.1 shutout innings for the save, while Brett Yarusi took the loss for Wesleyan. 

In the nightcap, Amherst's starter Jim Cetkovski (Toronto, ON) lasted just 0.2 of the first inning before leaving as the losing pitcher. He surrendered five hits, for four earned runs with a walk before handing the ball over to McKenna. McKenna calmed the hot Wesleyan bats with 1.1 innings of one-hit, shutout ball before having to head to the bench for the day.

Once McKenna left the mound, the Amherst bullpen gave up another nine runs to the Cardinals over the next four innings. Amherst grabbed two runs back in the fourth inning, and one run in each the seventh and eighth, but never made the game close again. 

Wesleyan's line-up had its way in the game, scoring 13 runs on 17 hits, with seven players having multi-hit games. Kyle Weiss and Brice Kelly each had three-hit games, while Drew Dominguez, Julian Sonnenfield, Garrett Lamborn, Jonathan Sheehan and Dettorre each had a pair of hits. Sheehan led the team with four RBIs in the win, while Dettorre scored three times to go along with his one RBI. Dominguez pitched a complete game on the mound for the Wesleyan win, giving up five earned runs on a dozen hits. 

With the split, Amherst falls to 8-6 overall (1-2 NESCAC West), while Wesleyan improves to 8-8 (2-1 NESCAC West). The Jeffs head to Eastern Connecticut State University mid-week, before heading to Hamilton for a three-game series next weekend.