Warriors Too Strong as Jeffs Swept in Twinbill

MANSFIELD, Conn. – Mike Odenwaleder '16 and Taiki Kasuga '14 each turned in a three-hit game but the Amherst College baseball team couldn't quiet the bats of Eastern Connecticut State University, dropping both ends of a non-conference doubleheader to the host Warriors on Wednesday, 13-7 and 6-3.

In a clash of two teams ranked among New England's top five by D3baseball.com, ECSU improved to 26-11-1 on the year while Amherst fell to 20-11 despite pounding 17 hits between the two seven-inning contests.

The Lord Jeffs got plenty of offense in the opener, led by Odenwaelder, who was a homer shy of the cycle, finishing 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Bob Cook '13 went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs while Nolan Stewart '13 (2-for-3) also drove in two and Brendon Hardin '15 (2-for-3) and Jonathan Ramirez '16 (2-for-4) chipped in two-hit contests. Quality pitching and defense was missing for the Jeffs, however, as four errors, seven walks, and two hit batsmen proved costly.

It was Amherst that grabbed an early lead as Ramirez started the game with single to left, Kasuga reached on an error, and Cook walked to load the bases. After Eastern starter Greg Porter struck out Conner Gunn '16, Odenwaelder put the Jeffs on the board with a two-run single to right center and Stewart followed with an RBI bloop into left for a 3-0 lead.

Amherst tacked on another in the second as Ramirez dropped down a nifty bunt hit with one out then stole second and scored on Cook's RBI single into right center. But Eastern jumped all over Jeff starter Charles Nutter '15 in the second, tying the game thanks to RBI singles from Gavin Lavallee and Tyler Caserta and sac flies by Nik Ververis and Mike Vaccarelli.

The slugfest continued in the third as Odenwaelder blasted a leadoff triple off the left-field wall and Stewart drove him in with a sac fly to left, putting the Jeffs back ahead momentarily. But after Nutter worked a scoreless bottom half, Pat Barnett relieved Porter for the Warriors and shut down the Amherst bats for two frames.

Eastern seized control of the contest in the fourth, as Tommy McKenna's leadoff single and a walk to Ververis spelled the end of the day for Nutter. Reliever Eric Kotin '14 entered but suffered a rare lapse in control, yielding a bunt single by Caserta to load the bases then hitting Brendan Lynch and walking Vaccarelli to put the Warriors ahead 6-5. Riley Streit '16 came on for Amherst but the Jeffs' fortunes would not improve as Mike Riemer drew another bases-loaded walk then Joe Balowski drove a sac fly to center for the fourth run of the frame.

Amherst eventually responded, drawing within one in the sixth as Cook chased Barnett from the contest with a clutch two-out, two-run triple to the right center gap. The comeback bid would prove fruitless, however, as the Jeff bullpen continued to struggle with Cam Windham '14 giving up five in the sixth on a bases-loaded walk to McKenna, a two-run double by Ververis and a two-out, two-run hit for Vaccarelli.

With Chuck Vogt coming on to earn the save, Barnett picked up the win for ECSU as Vaccarelli and Ververis combined for 7 RBIs. Nutter took the loss for Amherst as Streit's two scoreless innings of work were a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable contest for the Jeff staff.

Things started in similar fashion in Game 2 as the Warriors plated two runs in each of the first two innings against Jeff starter Fred Shepard '14. Balowski and Lavallee tallied RBI singles in the first before Vaccarelli continued his strong day with a sac fly in the second and Riemer ripped a run-scoring double. 

Riemer plated another tally with a single in the fourth before the Amherst bats finally awoke. Catcher Robert Lucido '15 started it with a walk before Ramirez ripped a double, Kasuga stroke an RBI single, and after a walk to Cook, Gunn pinch hit and scored Ramirez while grounding into a double play. With Shepard working a quick fifth, Amherst made it a two-run game in the sixth when Lucido singled and Kasuga drove him in with a clutch two-out hit.

Eastern got one of the runs back in the bottom half, however, when Caserta blasted Shepard's first pitch of the inning over the wall in left. After Lynch singled, Adam Medoff '13 took over on the mound for Amherst and retired three straight to limit the damage, but the Jeffs went quietly in the seventh as Vogt earned his second save of the day. 

ECSU starter Brent Pelella struck out seven over four innings to earn the win while Shepard fell to 2-3 on the year as he took the loss despite fanning six and walking none over 5.1 frames. Kasuga was the lone Jeff to collect multiple hits in the nightcap, finishing 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.

Amherst wraps up its regular season schedule on Saturday, visiting NESCAC East foe Colby for a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m.