Jeffs Slug Past Rowan in NCAA Opener, 10-8

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AUBURN, N.Y. – Jonathan Ramirez '16 and Nolan Stewart '13 had four hits apiece and Bob Cook '13 ripped a two-out RBI single in the eighth inning, breaking an 8-8 tie and lifting the Amherst College baseball team to an eventual 10-8 win over No. 22 Rowan University on the opening day of the NCAA Regional Tournament at Falcon Park.

The sixth-seeded Lord Jeffs (26-11) pounded 20 hits against the third-seeded New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) champions, notching the program's first win in the national tourney since 1999 while tying the program record for wins in a season set during the same year. Amherst now advances into the winners' bracket of the double-elimination tournament and will meet second-seeded SUNY Cortland on Thursday night at 7:45. The Red Dragons rallied for a 4-3 win over seventh-seeded RPI in Wednesday's final contest.

In a gripping slugfest, the Jeffs took leads of 4-0 and 8-3 before Rowan battled back, scoring four in the sixth and one in the seventh as the Profs (32-13) knocked out Amherst starter John Cook '15 then tied it against reliever Dylan Driscoll '14. But the Jeffs rose to the occasion with two outs in the eighth as back-to-back singles by Alex Hero '14 and Bob Cook chased in Andrew Vandini '16. After Adam Medoff '13 worked a scoreless bottom half, Ramirez drove in an insurance run with an RBI double and a key double play helped Charles Nutter '15 out of the ninth for the save.

Ramirez had a huge game out of the leadoff spot, going 4-for-6 with four RBIs while Stewart was 4-for-5, scoring three runs and driving in one. Hero went 3-for-4 with a walk while Taiki Kasuga '14 (three RBIs), Bob Cook, and Andrew Vandini '16 (three runs) were each 2-for-5. Despite working four scoreless innings, John Cook yielded six runs (five earned) over five-plus total frames, while Driscoll picked up the win, improving to 8-0 on the year after he gave up two runs over his two innings.

Steven Melchiorre started for Rowan and the Jeffs pounded the Prof ace for eight runs on 14 hits over 5.1 innings. Kyle Brown delivered 1.1 scoreless frames of relief but Christian Rahman took the loss as he surrendered single runs in the eighth and ninth. Kevin McMenamin led the Rowan offense, going 3-for-4, while Casey Grimes went 2-for-4 with three runs, sparking the Profs' first comeback with a two-out three-run homer in the second inning.

Grimes' blast came after Amherst jumped out to a 4-0 advantage in the top of the second as consecutive one-out singles by Dave Cunningham '16, Conner Gunn '16 and Stewart brought in a run then a Vandini fielder's choice and Ramirez RBI single set the stage for Kasuga to deliver a two-out two-run double to deep left center. Rowan answered in the third, however, as a Nick Kreiger leadoff single and one-out walk to Stephen Petriello preceded Grimes' opposite-field shot.

The Jeffs came right back to regain momentum in the top of the fourth, going up 6-3 as the bottom of the order set the table once again. Stewart and Vandini singled with one out before Ramirez drove an RBI knock over second and Kasuga lifted a sac fly to right. 

Two innings later, Amherst made its lead seemingly comfortable as Stewart roped a leadoff double into the left field corner, Ramirez brought him in with a one-out single then a Kasuga single and Hero walk loaded the bases for Bob Cook. The senior grounded to second, driving in Ramirez and beating the relay to first, but Kasuga tried to catch the defense napping and score from second on the play only to be cut down at the plate, retiring the side with Amherst up 8-3 after the bizarre double play.

Trailing by five, Rowan was far from finished, as Grimes walked and McMeniman singled off John Cook before a passed ball put them in scoring position and Eric Sellitto delivered a two-run single to end the Amherst lefty's day. Driscoll entered and struck out Eric Perez, but Ryan Williams blasted an RBI double to left center then Mark Benak made it a one-run game at 8-7 with a two-out single. After Brown and Rahman combined for a scoreless seventh, the Profs completed their rally against Driscoll, with one-out singles by Grimes and McMeniman setting up Perez for a clutch two-out single down the left field line. 

It was the Jeffs who would come up with the last big hit, however, as Vandini singled to lead off the eighth and Hero picked up the visitors after a pair of strikeouts, ripping the first pitch over second to put two aboard for Bob Cook. The Jeff co-captain fell behind 0-2 but drove the next pitch between the first and second basemen, chasing Vandini home ahead of the tag as Amherst retook the lead, 9-8.

Medoff came on for the eighth and worked around a one-out single and two-out walk before Stewart picked up his fourth hit with two away in the top of the ninth. The Profs appeared to be out of the inning without damage, but Sean Kelly muffed a routine throw at first on Vandini's grounder and Ramirez took advantage, driving a double to the wall in left-center to make it 10-8. 

With Nutter coming on for the ninth, McMenamin drew a leadoff walk but Vandini started a key double play, snaring Sellitto's hard one-hopper and feeding Kasuga for the relay. Perez singled to prolong it, but Nutter kept the tying run off base, fanning Williams swinging on an inside fastball to close out the Jeff triumph.


2013 Ncaa baseball championship -- new york regional
(hosted by Ithaca College at Falcon Park, Auburn, N.Y.)

Links: Jeff Blog * Tournament Homepage * Falcon Park * Regional Bracket * Live Stats * Live Webcast

Team Pages: Ithaca * Cortland * Rowan * Farmingdale State * Neumann * Amherst * RPI * Moravian

Full Tournament Schedule:
Wed., May 15
Game 1: No. 4 Farmingdale State 7, No. 5 Neumann 2
Game 2: No. 1 Ithaca 11, No. 8 Moravian 2
Game 3: No. 6 Amherst 10, No. 3 Rowan 8
Game 4: No. 2 Cortland 4, No. 7 RPI 3
Thurs., May 16
Game 5: Neumann vs. Moravian, 10 a.m.
Game 6: Rowan vs. RPI, 1:15 p.m.
Game 7: Farmingdale State vs. Ithaca, 4:30 p.m.
Game 8: Amherst vs. SUNY Cortland, 7:45 p.m.
Fri., May 17
Game 9: Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 7, 10 a.m.
Game 10: Winner Game 5 vs. Loser Game 8, 1:15 p.m.
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8, 4:30 p.m.
Game 12: Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10, 7:45 p.m.
Sat., May 18
Game 13: Winner Game 12 vs. Loser Game 11, 1 p.m.
Game 14: Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 13, 5 p.m.
Sun. May 19
Game 15: Winner Game 14 vs. Loser Game 14 (if necessary), 1 p.m.