AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College baseball team came out on the winning end of a back-and-forth game against Worcester Polytechnic Institute Thursday afternoon at Memorial Field, as the Lord Jeffs scored four times in the sixth inning to take an 11-9 lead that would hold up the rest of the way. The game was called after eight innings due to darkness.
The Lord Jeffs increased their winning streak to a season-high five games to wrap up the regular season at 21-11, while the Engineers drop to 23-11 and will host Wentworth Saturday, May 8 at 1 p.m. Amherst has now won 16 consecutive games against WPI, a streak that dates back to 1982.
The visitors struck first with two runs in the top of the second, but Amherst used a pair of solo homers, two doubles and two singles to storm right back with seven runs in the home half of the inning. WPI played some long ball of its own to get two runs back in the third and took a 9-7 lead in the fifth, but the Jeffs' four-run sixth inning sealed the deal.
Dylan Joyce '12 (South Orange, NJ) pitched 3.1 outstanding innings of relief to earn the win (1-2), with Hayden Metz '12 (Ridgefield, CT) earning his first save of the season after picking up the final out of the game. Alex Hansen '10 took the loss for WPI, allowing four runs in 2.2 innings of relief.
Senior co-captain Will Lawton (Newton, MA) went 3-for-4, scored two runs and drove in another to lead Amherst, with Nolan Stewart '13 (New Canaan, CT) going 2-for-4 as the only other Lord Jeff with multiple hits. Bob Cook '13 (Winnetka, IL), Kevin Heller '12 (Brooklyn, NY) and Thomas Wheeler '12 (Minnetonka, MN) each had two RBIs for Amherst. Heller increased his hitting streak to 11 games, while Lawton's reached 10 and Cook's moved to eight.
The Engineers were paced by a 3-for-5 performance from Nick Bean '12, who recorded the 100th hit of his career. Bean also scored two runs and had an RBI. Mark Dignum '10 and Mitch McClune '12 each had a pair of hits, while Jameson Kokolis '10 scored twice and drove in a pair as one of seven Engineers with an RBI on the day.
Bean got things going in the second with a one-out solo shot to straightaway center, marking his third homer of the season. Dignum followed with a triple and was brought home two pitches later on a soft liner through the middle of the infield by Cody McGregor '10, giving the visitors an early 2-0 lead.
Amherst jumped all over WPI starting pitcher Ryan Marques '10 in the home half of the second, with the first six batters reaching safely en route to a six-hit, four-run inning. After Heller led off by taking an outside pitch the opposite way for his seventh homer of the season, Wheeler produced a carbon copy of the play by pushing a fastball over the fence in right field to tie the game at 2-2, marking the third consecutive game Amherst has hit at least one home run. The Jeffs would add five more runs in the frame, highlighted by RBI-singles from Lawton and Bryce Einhorn '11 (Scarsdale, NY) and an RBI-double by Cook.
WPI pushed back with two runs off Amherst starting pitcher Ryan Healy '11 (Westport, CT) in the third thanks to a two-run blast by Kokolis, moving him into a tie for the team lead in homers (4). The Engineers would reclaim the lead by batting around in the fifth, with four singles and three walks leading to the runs. Joyce came in for relief with the bases loaded and only one out, but he escaped with minimal damage by inducing an RBI-groundout and striking out the final batter of the inning.
Joyce cruised through the rest of the game, allowing only two hits and striking out three in 3.1 innings before handing the ball to Metz. The Jeffs rewarded their sophomore southpaw by taking the lead for good in the sixth, as Lawton's leadoff single down the left field line was followed by three walks and a hit batsman, with a passed ball coming in between to score a run. A Wheeler RBI-groundout gave the Jeffs a 10-9 lead, and Scott Shaffer '11 (Boulder, CO) capped the scoring by hitting a sacrifice fly to right field.
WPI committed three errors in the game, but 10 of Amherst's 11 runs were still earned. The Jeffs made one error that did not lead to any unearned runs. The Engineers had 10 hits, while Amherst had nine.
The Lord Jeffs, who improved to 3-2 against regionally-ranked opponents, will now hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA Regional Championship. The next NCAA rankings are scheduled to be released Thursday, May 13.