NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – John Cook '15 delivered 5.2 gutsy innings of relief and Dave Cunningham '16 provided the game-tying and go-ahead RBIs as the second-seeded Amherst College baseball team rallied for an 8-5 upset win over top-seeded Trinity College on the opening day of the NESCAC Championship at Beehive Field.
With Trinity leading 4-2 in the fourth inning, Cook replaced starter Dylan Driscoll '14 and gave his team the chance to come back, yielding just one run on three hits over the remainder of the contest as he struck out four and walked none to improve to 6-2 on the year. The Lord Jeffs (23-11) now advance to face host Wesleyan University at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday after the Cardinals beat Bowdoin College, 8-6. The Bantams (20-18) and Polar Bears will meet in an elimination game on Beehive Field at the same time.
Andrew Vandini '16 went 3-for-4 for Amherst while Bob Cook '13 was 2-for-4 with a double, triple, and a pair of runs scored. Cunningham, Jonathan Ramirez '16, and Nolan Stewart '13 each drove in a pair of runs for the Jeffs. Driscoll gave up four runs on nine hits in 3.1 innings of work.
Alex Almeida led the Trinity offense, going 3-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI while Joe Papa, Michael Rueger and Adam Moossmann each collected a pair of hits. Starter Peter Burrows gave up five runs over six innings before Sean Meekins (4-2) took the loss over three innings of relief, surrendering a trio of runs in the eighth as Amherst broke open a 5-5 ballgame.
After Driscoll worked out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the first, the Jeffs scored a pair in the top of the third as Vandini and Stewart reached on a single and error then Ramirez blasted a two-run double to the right-center gap. Trinity came back with three in the bottom half, however, as Steve Rogers delivered a sacrifice fly, Papa drilled an RBI double off the wall and Rueger put the Bantams on top with a single to left.
Trinity padded the lead in the fourth as Almeida roped his second double of the game to score Moossmann before John Cook replaced Driscoll and put out the fire with back-to-back outs. The Jeffs drew within one in their next at-bat as Vandini singled and Brendon Hardin '15 blasted a triple to the wall in left center, but Trinity got the run right back on an RBI knock from Moossmann, going up 5-3.
With Burrows still on the mound, Amherst started its rally with Bob Cook and Odenwaelder socking back-to-back triples before Cunningham tied it with a sacrifice fly that would have gone for extra bases if not for a tremendous diving catch by Rueger.
With the score still knotted and Meekins on in his second inning of relief, the Jeff catcher delivered again in the eighth, singling to put Amherst on top after Bob Cook blasted a one-out double. With two down, Stewart drove in two more, singling off the glove of a diving Moossmann at third.
Meanwhile, John Cook grew stronger on the mound as the game went on, setting down the final 10 Bantam hitters in order as he allowed just one baserunner over the final four innings.
Amherst will now meet the host Cardinals after Wesleyan knocked off Bowdoin, 8-6, in Friday's other contest. The Cardinals took two of three from the Jeffs in the teams' regular season series but the Little Three rivals have never met in NESCAC Championship play.
2013 NESCAC Baseball Championship