Cook Blanks Owls as Jeffs Cruise, 8-0

AMHERST, Mass. – Bob Cook '13 hurled 7.1 shutout innings and five Lord Jeffs had two-hit games as the Amherst College baseball team won its home opener Wednesday with an 8-0 blanking of Keene State College at Memorial Field.

After Cook and Owl starter Eddie Dionne '16 dueled through five scoreless frames, the Amherst bats awoke with three runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth. Center fielder Brendon Hardin '15 led the onslaught out of the nine-hole, going 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and 4 RBI, while leadoff man Alex Hero '14 drove in three, also tallying a 2-for-4 line. Conner Gunn '16 (2-4, RBI), Dave Cunningham '16 (2-3, BB, 3R) and Taiki Kasuga '14 (2-5) rounded out the multi-hit performers for Amherst (8-4).

Cook stymied the Owls (5-10) into the eighth, scattering five hits and walking none while striking out a pair. Younger brother John Cook '15 entered with one on and one away and set down the final five outs of the contest in order, fanning three.

Ian Seawards '15 was the lone Owl with multiple hits as he went 2-for-4. After Dionne was touched for seven runs (five earned) over 5.1 innings, Will Francis '14 pitched 1.2 scoreless frames of relief for Keene before Alex Fiste '15 came on for the eighth and surrendered the final Amherst tally.  

With both pitchers locked in for the first half of the game, the Jeffs finally broke through in the fifth. Cunningham got things started with a single through the left side before Mike Odenwaelder '16 advanced him with a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch sent the rookie to third. Looking to catch the defense by surprise, Hardin laid another bunt down toward third and Cunningham scampered home past Keene catcher Ian Schoonmaker '16, who bobbled the pick-up. Hero followed with a single to right and when the ball scooted past Brett Dootson '16, Hardin motored all the way home and Hero pulled into third. Gunn delivered the final tally of the frame with a two-out RBI single up the middle.

The Amherst lineup stayed hot in the sixth, with Nolan Stewart '13 reaching on an error before singles by Cunningham and Odenwaelder loaded the bases for Hardin. The sophomore responded, stroking a double over the center fielder's head to plate three and knock out Dionne. With Hardin advancing to third on the relay throw home, Hero picked up another RBI with a sacrifice fly to greet Francis.

Amherst added an insurance tally in the eighth when Hero doubled in Cunningham with a shot to the left-center gap. Kasuga nearly drove him in moments later, but his blast to right was tracked down with a nice over-the-shoulder catch by Dootson.

Both teams will be in action with 3:30 p.m. contests again tomorrow as Amherst travels to MIT and Keene State visits Babson.