NESCAC Tourny Preview: Baseball Set for NESCAC Championship Run

AMHERST, Mass. - Fresh off its second-consecutive NESCAC West Division title, the 29th-ranked Amherst baseball team will look to capture the program's third conference crown when it opens tournament play on Friday, May 11.

The Jeffs kick off the NESCAC Championship against East Division #2 Bowdoin at 3 p.m. on Wesleyan University's Andrus Field, while East #1 Trinity hosts West Division #2 Williams. All games will feature live audio broadcasts.

Amherst (23-8, 10-2 NESCAC West)
In search of its first league title since 2005, Amherst locked up the West Division's top seed by posting a 10-2 conference record. Winning seven of its 10 games during its annual Spring Break trip, the Jeffs went 16-5 to close out the regular season, with a 13-3 mark in April.

In its previous eight NESCAC championship appearances, Amherst has posted a 7-13 overall record, going 8-8 against this year's field. Sporting a 2-1 record against the rival Ephs, the Jeffs are 5-5 all-time against Trinity and 1-2 against Bowdoin after dropping a pair of games to the Polar Bears in the 2011 tournament.

At the Plate:  With six starters hitting over .300, Amherst leads the league in hitting (.329), while ranking second in slugging (.428) and on-base percentage (.409). Registering the conference's second-highest batting average (.396),Kevin Heller '12 has been a staple in the heart of the Jeff lineup, while also leading the squad in slugging (.554) thanks to a team-high 13 doubles.

Torching conference pitching this season, Heller has hit .458 with a .525 OBP in 16 games across the league's two divisions, while tallying 16 runs and 13 RBI. The Brooklyn, N.Y. native will hope to carry that momentum into this weekend after slugging 1.143 and tying a tournament record with three home runs at last season's championship.

Seeing the ball well of late, Bob Cook '13 has reached base on a .532 clip over the team's last 20 games, notching 14 runs and 11 RBI. Hitting .390 with a .505 OBP on the year, Cook has scored 21 runs, while driving in 13 others. SeniorMike Samela, who leads the team in RBI (31) and runs scored (28), has fared equally well down the stretch, batting .368 with a .529 slugging percentage, while Nolan Stewart '13 and Taiki Kasuga '14 have combined for 41 RBI during the same span.

On the Mound: Arguably the team's most consistent pitcher in 2012, Bob Cook, has posted a 5-0 record in six appearances with a 2.61 ERA. Surrendering just 11 earned runs in 38.0 innings, he has struck out 28 batters, while issuing just seven walks. Limiting the opposition to a .241 batting average, Bob is 4-0 against the NESCAC in 2012, striking out 18, while turning in three complete games.

Younger brother John Cook '15 has burst onto the scene in his first full season, ranking among the league leaders in ERA (2.95) and OBA (.226). Posting a 4-0 mark as one of the team's starters, Cook has given up just 13 earned runs in 39.2 innings.

Adam Medoff '13 and Dylan Joyce '12 have proven to be reliable arms out of the bullpen, combining for a 3-0 mark in 37.2 innings over 25 appearances. With a 0.69 ERA in his last 10 outings, Medoff has surrendered just one run in his last 13.0 innings, while Joyce has struck out 14 batters without allowing a run in 11.2 frames. 

Especially effective against this season's NESCAC opponents, the duo have combined to toss 17.1 scoreless innings, fanning 11 batters, while picking up three victories.

Williams (16-19, 7-5 NESCAC West)
Making its 10th championship appearance, Williams will look to capture its third league title after posting an 11-14 record over its previous nine tournament showings. Beginning the year with a 6-14 start, it looked as if the Ephs would be left on the outside looking in, but a surging Williams squad posted a 10-3 mark during the last two weeks of April to earn a berth into the NESCAC Championship.

At the Plate: Helping to jumpstart a Williams lineup that features six regulars hitting over .300, Darren Hartwell '13 has recorded 12 multi-hit games in 2012, scoring a team-high 35 runs, while sitting tied for second in the NESCAC in stolen bases (15).

Carrying an eight-game hit streak into tournament play, first year Luke Pierceleads the squad in both batting average (.325) and slugging percentage (.506) with four doubles and six triples. Junior Taylor Mondshein '13, who hit safely in 11-straight earlier this year, and Cameron Susk '12 give the Ephs some added punch, combining for 43 RBI.

On the Mound: Ranking third in the conference in strikeouts (62), Harry Marino '12 logged 50.2 innings while anchoring the Williams staff, posting a 4-3 record with four complete games. Striking out 62 batters and holding opponents to a .263 OBA, Marino twice earned NESCAC Pitcher of the Week honors, clinching the Ephs' postseason berth by throwing a no-hitter against Hamilton on Apr. 28 - the program's first in at least 23 years.

Thomas Murphy '15 and Steve Marino '14 have also seen time on the rubber as starters this season, combining for four wins and 41 strikeouts, while Matt Berdoff '12 has done a nice job in relief, limiting opponents to a .231 OBA in 14 appearances.

Trinity (29-9, 10-2 NESCAC East)
The East Division's top seed, three-time champion Trinity will look to capture its first NESCAC title since 2009, having posted a 16-8 overall record in its previous seven appearances. Opening the year with a 1-3 record, the Bantams won 18 of their next 20 games to improve to 19-5. Going just 4-4 over its next eight, Trinity closed the season out strong, winning six-straight entering championship play.

At the Plate: One of the league's most potent offenses, Trinity ranks first in slugging (.450), on-base percentage (.417) and home runs (35), while sitting second in batting average (.320) and runs scored (273).

Serving as the catalysts to the Bantam offense all season, Alex Almeida '13and Michael Rueger '13 have excelled at the top of the order, ranking among the team leaders in runs scored with 29 and 34, respectively. Hitting .400 during the team's six-game win streak, Almeida sits second in the NESCAC in on-base percentage (.500), while Rueger has hit .341 with a .522 slugging percentage.

Providing Trinity with some power in the middle of the order, Kevin Mortimer '12 ranks among the league leaders in slugging percentage (.560), home runs (6) and RBI (34), while Stephen Rogers '13 sits fourth in the conference in batting average (.391) and second in total bases (82).

On the Mound: Headlining a staff that leads the league in ERA (2.75) and on-base percentage (.228), Edward Donovan '12 has posted a 4-2 record after logging a team-high 52.2 innings. Ranking among the conference leaders in ERA (2.56), Donovan surrendered just one run in his last start, scattering eight hits in eight innings against Wesleyan.

Peter Burrows '14 has also enjoyed a stellar statistical season, leading the NESCAC in OBA (.183), while allowing a league-low 10 earned runs. Sitting second in the conference in ERA (2.25), Burrows has surrendered just two runs in his last two starts, while striking out seven in 12.1 innings.

Making the most of his 15 appearances, Ben Goldberg '13 has done well out of the bullpen, recording a 0.99 ERA in 36.1 innings, while holding opponents to a .190 OBA. Picking up four wins, Goldberg has allowed just four earned runs en route to five saves.

Bowdoin (23-16, 8-4 NESCAC East)
In search of its first conference crown, Bowdoin has posted a 6-10 mark in five previous trips to the NESCAC tournament, finishing as the runner-up the last two seasons. Going 10-6 to start the year, the Polar Bears suffered a 3-6 late season swoon during the last two weeks of April to fall to 18-14. Turning things around in the last 10 days of the regular season, Bowdoin responded by finishing 5-2 over its final seven to build some momentum heading into the conference tournament.

At the Plate: Leading the team with a .357 average, Dan Findley '13 ranks first on the squad in RBI (29) and doubles (10). Hitting .348 with six runs and 10 RBI against NESCAC opponents, Findley slugged .478 in 12 games against the league, recording a double, triple and home run.

Tim McGarry '13 has also enjoyed a solid year, hitting .321 with a .438 on-base percentage and 28 RBI. Going 2-for-3, while driving in a pair of runs in the team's regular season finale, McGarry leads the squad in slugging (.482) with 10 doubles and four triples, while Kyle LeBlanc '14 has been a terror on the base-paths, swiping a league-high 17 bags.

On the Mound: Amassing a conference-high 283 strikeouts, the Bowdoin staff has emerged as one of the NESCAC's best, posting the league's second-lowest ERA (2.93) and third-lowest opponent batting average (.250).

Going 5-2 in nine starts, Oliver Van Zant '13 tops the conference in ERA (2.20) and strikeouts (82), while ranking second in OBA (.204) and tied for third in earned runs allowed (14). Sophomore Christian Martin has made the most of his seven starts, notching four win and tallying 46 strikeouts to 19 walks, whileIan Edwards '12 leads the conference in saves (6), posting a 1.50 ERA and 21 strikeouts in just 12.0 innings.

2012 NESCAC Baseball Championship

Friday, May 11
Game 1 - W2 Williams at E1 Trinity, 3 p.m.
Game 2 - E2 Bowdoin vs. W1 Amherst, 3 p.m. (@ Wesleyan)

Saturday, May 12
Game 3 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 10:30 a.m.
Game 4 - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 10:30 a.m.
Game 5 - Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 13
Game 6 - Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 10 a.m.
Game 7 - If Necessary, Immediately Following Game 6

Amherst * Williams * Trinity * Bowdoin

Live Audio

NESCAC Championship Records