AMHERST, Mass. - Erasing an eight run deficit, the Amherst baseball team scored 10 runs in its final four frames to earn a thrilling 11-9 win over Little Three rival Wesleyan on Memorial Field.
Improving to 21-7 (8-2 NESCAC) overall, the Jeffs need just one win in tomorrow's doubleheader with the Cardinals to clinch the top seed in the West Division, while Wesleyan (18-15, 6-4 NESCAC) can still guarantee itself a berth into the upcoming conference championship by sweeping Saturday's twinbill.
Taiki Kasuga '14 (New York, N.Y.) paced an Amherst lineup that pounded out 12 hits, going 4-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, while classmate Alex Hero '14 added a pair of base-knocks. John Wagner '12 (Evanston, Ill.) finished 1-for-3, while driving in the game-tying run in the ninth, with Kevin Heller '12 (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Bob Cook '14 (Winnetka, Ill.), Brendon Hardin '15 (Riverside, Conn.), Mike Samela '12 (Westport, Conn.) and Tyler Jacobs '15 (Westport Conn.) accounting for the squad's five other hits.
Donnie Cimino '15 notched a pair of hits and three RBI to lead Wesleyan, while Andrew Yin finished 2-for-5 with two RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Replacing starter John Cook '15 (Winnetka, Ill.), who lasted just four and a third after surrendering eight runs on nine hits, Hayden Metz '12 (Ridgefield, Conn.) tossed three hitless innings en route to his second win of the season, while Adam Medoff '13 (San Francisco, Calif.) picked up his first save with a scoreless ninth.
Cardinal starter Mike Barsotti '12 gave up eight runs on eight hits in five and two thirds, while Chris Law '14 suffered his first loss of the year after relinquishing the lead with a three-run seventh.
Knotted at 1-1 in the top of the third, Wesleyan's Andrew Meadow '12 legged out an infield single with the bases loaded and two outs to put the Cardinals back on top. Looking to add to the visitors' tally, Cimino promptly laced a two-run single to right to give the visitors a three-run cushion.
After Cimino tacked on another score with an RBI single in the fourth, Wesleyan looked to build on its lead the following frame, scoring four more runs on a Yin single through the right side and a costly two-run run error that gave the Cardinals a commanding 9-1 advantage.
Hoping to get to Barsotti, who settled in for three scoreless innings after a rocky first, Kasuga started the Jeffs' rally in the bottom of the fifth with a one-out single to right. With the Wesleyan starter loading the bases after issuing consecutive walks to Heller and Samela, Kasuga came home on a wild pitch before Cook ripped a bases-clearing double to left center to pull Amherst within five.
Continuing to chip away in the sixth, Jacobs led off the inning with a single before a Wagner walk and Hero base-hit again loaded the bases. Kasuga followed with an RBI single to center to cut the deficit to 9-5. Needing a big hit after a Heller strikeout, Samela roped a Barsotti offering into the right centerfield gap, plating three more Jeff runs to suddenly bring the home team within one.
Carrying their momentum into the following frame, Hardin ripped a one-out single off of Law, who entered the game to record the final out in the sixth. With Jacobs reaching on an error to put runners on first and second, Wagner found a hole through the right side, plating Hardin, before a errant throw allowed the go-ahead run to touch home. Trying to pad the Jeff lead, Hero quickly singled in Wagner to stretch the margin to two.
Still down 11-9 in the top of the ninth, Kyle Weiss '12 drew a one-out walk to bring the tying run to the plate, but Medoff got Meadow to foul out to right before inducing Cimino into a fielder's choice to short to seal the Amherst win.