Lord Jeffs Wrap Up Summer Baseball League Play

AMHERST, Mass. – With the summer winding down, Amherst student-athletes wrapped up a successful few months on the diamond as members of summer baseball leagues across the country.

"The success that many of our players had in some of the top summer leagues in the nation is a testament to the hard work that they put toward their development on the field and in the weight room," said head coach Brian Hamm. "The experiences that they had this summer were a great way to cap a very successful year for Amherst Baseball."

Among those enjoying stellar offseasons were senior Kevin Heller (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and sophomore Taiki Kasuga (New York, N.Y.). Playing in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL), the duo's respective squads met in the ACBL Championship, with Kasuga's Staten Island Tide prevailing, 7-1. Kasuga went 1-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored in the title game, finishing the summer with 15 RBI, 17 runs scored and a .294 batting average.

Helping the Westhampton Aviators to a 21-19 overall mark and a berth in the ACBL Championship, Heller hit .319 this summer with a league-record 11 home runs en route to Santy Gallone Most Valuable Player honors. Leading the league in slugging percentage (.645), the Brooklyn native ranked in the top-five in seven offensive categories, finishing first in runs scored (31) and total bases (91). He also finished second in hits (45) and doubles (11), while ranking third in RBI (30). 

Also impressive this summer while playing for the Vermont Mountaineers in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) were sophomore Fred Shepard (Amherst, Mass.) and senior Mike Samela (Westport, Conn.). Shepard played an integral role in helping the Mountaineers to a 26-16 slate, going 3-0 in seven starts with a 1.42 ERA – the fourth lowest in the league. In 38.0 innings, the Amherst lefty recorded 33 strikeouts against only 16 walks. Samela, meanwhile, backed up his 2011 NESCAC Player of the Year honor by going 4-for-4 with two home runs and three RBI in only his second game with the Mountaineers, before switching gears to play with a team in his home state. 

"I was especially happy to see the success that Kevin and Mike had against some of the best college players in the country," Hamm said. "Many of our players were able to balance the rigors of fast-pace internships and summer jobs with their baseball and lifting schedule, and I am proud of them for doing so well.  I have no doubt that this summer will serve as a good foundation the coming year."