Jeffs Close Sweep with Walk-Off Win Over Ephs

AMHERST, Mass. – Nolan Stewart '13 broke a 1-1 tie with a walk-off single in the 10th inning to help the Amherst College baseball team sweep Williams College for the second time in as many years. The Lord Jeffs are 7-1 in their past eight games and have won seven straight against the Ephs dating back to 2010. 

Amherst (14-5, 6-0 NESCAC West) defeated its archrival by a score of 6-4 on Friday and opened Saturday's doubleheader with a 5-4 win, with both games going down to the wire. Williams (5-13, 1-5 NESCAC West) found the tying run in the ninth inning of the nightcap, but Stewart's fourth hit of the afternoon capped off the 2-1 result. 

Kevin Heller '12 drove in a pair of runs in Saturday's opener to become Amherst's all-time leader in RBIs (120). The previous record of 119 was held by Richie Lundgren '80 and had stood for more than 30 years.

Stewart had both of Amherst's RBIs in the second game and finished the day 4-for-7, while Tyler Mondshein led the Ephs by going a combined 3-for-6 with a pair of runs driven in. 

Lost in the thrilling finish was an outstanding performance by first-year John Cook, who stood out among all pitchers on Saturday by throwing the first eight innings of the second game. Cook was pulled in the ninth with a 1-0 lead but would not factor into the decision despite allowing only six hits. Amherst's ERA dropped to 3.75, with Cook's moving to a team-best 1.42. 

The second game flew by thanks to Cook, who didn't walk a single batter and seemed to get stronger as the day progressed. He induced three groundouts on only six pitches in the seventh inning and followed with a 1-2-3 eighth, and he finally got some run support when Stewart sent a two-strike single back up the middle to score pinch runner John Wagner '12. 

Amherst's 1-0 lead was short-lived, as Mondshein chased Cook from the game by leading off the top of the ninth with a double to center. After moving over to third on a pop-up down the right field line, Mondshein scored the tying run when Ben Oliva came through with a pinch-hit sacrifice fly off relief pitcher Adam Medoff '13. 

Medoff got the Jeffs out of the 10th unharmed by inducing a 6-4-3 double play, and Amherst wasted no time loading the bases in the home half of the frame. After Taiki Kasuga '14 sent a grounder through the infield and Heller bunted for a single, a passed ball forced the Ephs to intentionally walk Mike Samela '12 with nobody out. After a strikeout, Stewart crushed a line drive to the gap in right center, scoring Kasuga for the winning run. 

Stewart was 3-for-5 in the second game, while Mondshein and Amherst's Thomas Wheeler '12 each went 2-for-4 as the only other players with multiple hits. Medoff (1-0) earned the win by allowing only one hit in relief of Cook, while Jimmy Ray was dealt the loss after pitching the final 1.2 innings for Williams. Steve Marino (3.1 IP) and Matt Berdoff (3.2 IP) combined for seven innings of shutout baseball and allowed only three hits, but they walked six batters. 

The Jeffs took a 2-0 lead in Saturday's opener when Alex Hero '14 and Kasuga delivered back-to-back RBI singles up the middle in the second inning. The Ephs responded with three runs in the top of the fourth, as Mondshein sent a two-RBI single to right center and Phil McGovern added a run-scoring single to left. Williams then took a 4-2 lead in the fifth when Stephen Maier ripped a double down the left field line, sneaking a hard grounder just inside the bag to score Oliva. 

Amherst took the lead for good with three runs in the sixth, as Dan Pillitteri '13 singled through the left side and Kasuga drew a two-out walk. Heller then broke the RBI record by sending a hard shot past the dive of shortstop Cameron Susk—who made an outstanding catch on a line drive that robbed Heller of at least one RBI earlier in the game—to tie the game at 4-4. Samela followed with a single that scored Heller, and Dylan Joyce '12 pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning to clinch the come-from-behind win. 

Joyce (1-0) struck out two, walked none and gave up only one hit in 3.0 innings of relief, as Bob Cook '13 didn't factor into the decision after allowing four runs on seven hits through 4+ innings. Thomas Murphy (1-2) took the loss for the Ephs in a complete-game effort, surrendering five earned runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and four walks. 

Heller—who is also Amherst's all-time leader in runs scored (124) and total bases (257)—moved into a tie for fifth place on the school's career hits list (159) by going 2-for-7 on Saturday. The program record of 167 is held by Dave Powers '05. 

The Lord Jeffs will return to action Thursday, Apr. 12, when they host Castleton State College in a single non-conference game. The Ephs will travel to face Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on Monday, Apr. 9.