Jeffs Complete Series Sweep of Hamilton

AMHERST, Mass. – Dominant pitching performances by Bob Cook '13 and Fred Shepard '14 helped the Amherst College baseball team defeat Hamilton College by scores of 8-0 and 6-2 on Saturday, as the Lord Jeffs completed a series sweep at Memorial Field. 

Amherst (10-4, 3-0 NESCAC West) got five hits apiece from Kevin Heller '12 and Alex Hero '14 in the two games combined, while its pitching staff held Hamilton (3-15, 0-3 NESCAC West) to eight hits on the day. The Lord Jeffs have now won nine in a row against the Continentals. 

Heller's 5-for-8 day moved him into sixth place on Amherst's all-time hits list (155), with Hero also going 5-for-8 to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. Mike Samela '12 began the day having hit safely in 25 of his past 26 outings, but his streak would finally come to a halt at 20. 

Gabe Klein went 1-for-3 in each game and Stephen LaRochelle was a combined 3-for-7 as the only Hamilton players with multiple hits on Saturday. 

The Jeffs scored in nine of the 14 innings in which they came to bat, including in each of the first four frames. Heller scored the first run on a Hamilton error, then added an RBI single in the second and a 2-RBI double that one-hopped the fence in the fourth, as the Jeffs held a 7-0 lead after four innings. 

Amherst made it 8-0 in the bottom of the sixth when a bases-loaded grounder by John Wagner '12 scored Brendon Hardin '15. An eight-run cushion was more than enough for Cook, who didn't allow the Continentals to reach third base after the first inning. Cook struck out five and allowed only two hits in the first six innings, while Dylan Joyce '12 closed out the seventh with a pair of strikeouts. 

First-year Jonathan Lane took the loss for Hamilton, allowing eight runs—six earned—on 13 hits with a strikeout and four walks in 5.1 innings. 

The second game was a much different story, as Hamilton came from behind to tie the score at 1-1 and 2-2 before the Jeffs came through with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Samela put Amherst on the board in the first with a sacrifice fly, but the visitors tied it up in the third when a groundout by Thomas Merriman scored Klein, who led off with a double to left center.

Thomas Wheeler '12 put the Jeffs back on top in the fourth when a sacrifice fly scored Heller. Amherst threatened in the fifth by loading the bases after a Heller double and walks by Samela and Taiki Kasuga '14, but starting pitcher Alex Pachella came up with a big strikeout to end the inning. 

Sam Choate brought the score to 2-2 on a two-out homer to left in the top of the sixth, but Nolan Stewart '13 answered in the bottom half of the frame with his own solo shot to give the hosts a 3-2 edge. Cook followed with a pinch-hit single that scored Hardin, and Heller made it a 5-2 game with a sacrifice fly to center. 

Shepard saved his best inning for last, recording two strikeouts and a groundout during a 1-2-3 seventh to close the books on an impressive outing. He got an insurance run in the home half of the seventh when Hardin reached on an error, stole second and scored on a single through the infield by Tyler Jacobs '15. 

Hamilton would threaten by loading the bases with two outs in the eighth, but Adam Medoff '13 came on in relief and needed only one pitch to induce a harmless pop-up to Stewart at third. Medoff then retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth, as a two-out single down the left field line by LaRochelle wasn't enough to ignite a Hamilton rally. 

Shepard struck out 10 and walked only one in 7.0 innings, surrendering two earned runs on only five hits. Pachella pitched well for Hamilton but suffered his first loss of the season, giving up two runs—one earned—on six hits with three strikeouts and a pair of walks. 

Cook and Shepard each improved to 3-0 on the season, with Cook notably lowering his ERA to 1.80 and his opponents' batting average to .200. Heller bumped his average to .500 and is only two RBIs shy of tying the school's career record of 119, while Hero and Samela have each hit safely in 26 of Amherst's last 28 games dating back to last season. 

The Lord Jeffs will return to action on Tuesday, Apr. 3, when they head to Keene State for a non-conference game. Hamilton will host SUNYIT next Saturday in a doubleheader at Royce Field.