AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team played a rare Monday afternoon game against non-conference foe Brandeis University this afternoon. The Judges led the entire game, as Amherst was unable to mount a comeback down the stretch, falling 9-6. Amherst drops to 15-11 with the loss, while the Judges improve to 16-21 on the year.
Brandeis jumped out in the first inning when a lead-off single by Julian Cavin led to a pair of wild pitches by Amherst hurler Pat Harris (Rochester, NY). Cavin scored on a sacrifice fly, before the Judges scored their second run of the frame on an error. Harris was able to limit the damage and get out of the top of the first with Amherst trailing just 2-0 on a pair of unearned runs.
After a pair of groundouts to second base to start the bottom of the first, Amherst sophomore Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) hit a solo home run to left center field. The opposite-field shot was Shaffer's second homer of the season.
In the top of the second, Harris left the game with an injury, giving way to junior left-handed pitcher John D'Angelo (Woodbridge, CT). Brandeis put the Lord Jeff reliever to work immediately, opening up a 5-1 lead before the second was half over. Once again, in the bottom of the second, Amherst took a run back on a solo shot to left center. Senior captain Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) provided the fireworks this time, hitting a line-drive shot off Brandeis' David Packard. The home run was the 17th career round-tripper for Schaller, leaving him one short of tying the all-time Amherst career mark of 18.
Amherst was unable to score another run over the next few innings, as Brandeis increased its lead to 7-2 heading into the top of the fourth. The Jeffs looked to start a one-out rally, before the Judges ended the fourth with a 6-4-3 double play.
The Lord Jeffs closed the gap to four in the bottom of the fifth inning, riding a superb individual effort by first-year John Wagner (Evanston, IL). The Amherst rookie led off the inning with a double, and then scored on a play at the plate as the attempt to catch him stealing third went into left field. The effort jump-started the Amherst offense, which then quickly loaded the bases for first-year catcher Thomas Wheeler (Minnetonka, MN).
Senior Mike Neff (New York, NY) scored from third to close the margin to 7-4 on a passed ball, as Kevin Heller (Brooklyn, NY) and Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) advanced to second and third. Wheeler reached on a fielder's choice, as Heller was gunned out at home by Tony Deshler for the second out of the fifth. Schaller delivered once again, scoring Powers from second with a single to short left-center with two outs.
Brandeis added another two runs in the top of the sixth, starting the inning with a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases. Drake Livada delivered a bases-loaded single to knock in one run, before the Judges added another run on a groundout to third. Over the next two innings, Amherst was unable to close the gap any further, sending the Judges to take the field leading 9-6 in the bottom of the eighth.
Amherst went quietly in the bottom of the eighth, before junior reliever Teddy Blank (Waban, MA) pitched his third straight scoreless inning in the top of the ninth. The Judges returned the favor, as the Lord Jeffs went down 1-2-3 in the ninth to end the game with a 9-6 result in Brandeis' favor.
Packard took the win for Brandeis, going 5.0 innings while giving up six hits and five earned runs. Nick Pollack pitched 3.0 innings of no-hit relief to close out the game with the save for the Judges. Harris took the loss for the Lord Jeffs, while Blank was a bright spot out of the bullpen with 4.0 innings pitched, three hits and no runs allowed.
Shaffer paced the Lord Jeffs at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a pair of runs scored. Schaller went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Cavin and Sean O'Hare led the Brandeis offense, as each scored three runs, while combining to go 5-for-10 with two RBIs.
Today's game marked the final regular season home game for the Amherst Class of 2009. Seniors Neff, Schaller and Powers played well, while classmates Nat Pedley (Rye, NY), Mike Landman (Brooklyn, NY) and Ryan Platzbecker (Westlake, OH) had the day off. The Lord Jeffs will return to action at Springfield College on Wednesday afternoon for a 3:30 p.m. game.