Rally Falls Short as Jeffs Drop Opener to No. 15 WNE

AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Eric West '15 went 3-for-4 with an RBI and Andrew Vandini '16 collected three hits in his collegiate debut but it was not enough as the Amherst College baseball team opened its 2013 season with a 7-5 setback to 15th-ranked Western New England University at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational on Saturday.

Trailing the Golden Bears 7-2 after several key errors in the early-going, the Lord Jeffs mounted a strong comeback, chipping away steadily and putting the tying run on first with two outs in the ninth inning. Nolan Stewart '13 lined out to end the contest, however, as WNE – which came one game away from a second consecutive trip to the Division III College World Series in 2012 – avenged its 11-6 loss to Amherst at last year's RussMatt Invite. Ranked 15th nationally by D3baseball.com, the Golden Bears were coming off of a big 9-7 win over top-ranked Cortland State in their Florida opener on Friday.

In addition to the three-hit performances of West and Vandini, Taiki Kasuga '14 picked up a pair of hits for the Jeffs and Mike Odenwaelder '16 ripped a run-scoring double to highlight his debut contest in Purple and White.

John Cook '15 started on the mound for Amherst but lasted just 3.1 innings before giving way to Eric Kotin '14, who worked a scoreless two-thirds to get the Jeffs out of the fourth. Bob Cook '13 came on in the fifth and provided Amherst with its chance to rally, surrendering just a single run over the final four frames as the 2012 NESCAC Player of the Year started his senior campaign with a strong relief effort.

After five miscues in the opener, Amherst will look to shore up its defense and get in the win column on Sunday. The Jeffs square off with another Pioneer Valley rival, Westfield State, in a doubleheader at Lake Myrtle Park (Field 3) beginning at 11:15 a.m.