Contact: Mike O'Brien
NEWARK, N.Y. – The 26th-ranked Amherst College baseball team rallied from a 3-0 early deficit, but a late eighth inning run by No. 18 Kean eliminated the Jeffs from NCAA Division III Regional action by a score of 4-3 at Colburn Park.
Amherst's impressive season, in which the team set a program record in wins (30), comes to an end Sunday as they finish the year with a 30-11 overall mark, becoming the first team in program history to reach the 30-win plateau. The Jeffs have advanced to the NCAA regionals for the second consecutive season and seventh time in school history. Prior to the 2013 season, the Purple & White had won five national postseason games, they now have four victories in the past two years. Amherst defeated the Cougars on Friday, 7-1, but were unable to pull off another win as Kean (35-13) advanced to face SUNY Cortland in the New York Regional Final, hosted by Ithaca College.
The Jeffs fell short today despite outhitting the Cougars, 10-9. Taiki Kasuga '14, Dave Cunningham '16 and Andrew Vandini '16 all recorded two hits apiece to lead the team offensively. Kasuga was 2-for-5 with a double, while Cunningham finished 2-for-3 and Vandini went 2-for-4 with a RBI. Tyler Jacobs '15 added another RBI for the Purple & White and finished 1-for-2 with a walk.
Keenan Szulik '16 earned the starting nod and went 4.1 innings with three runs allowed on six hits and two walks. Eric Kotin '14 tossed 3.0 innings of relief with one run on two hits while Robert Cahill '14 pitched two-thirds of relief work and surrendered one hit.
Kean opened the game with a two-run bottom of the first on three hits and one Jeff error. With two on and no outs, Sal Taormina '16 doubled down the left field line to bring in the first run. The sophomore stole home later in the inning following a double-steal by the designated home team to go ahead, 2-0.
In the bottom of the third, Matt Meleo '16 led off with a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a fly ball to right field. On the next at-bat, Meleo reached home on a wild pitch as Kean took a three-run lead after three.
Amherst retaliated the next inning. Following back-to-back walks to put two on with zero outs, a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third. Vandini stepped to the plate and drove home Conner Gunn '16 with a single through the left side. However, the Jeffs stranded a runner on third and trailed by two, 3-1.
After 3.5 innings of scoreless action, Amherst rallied in the top of the eighth to even the score. Mike Odenwaelder '16 walked to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a single by Yanni Thanopoulos '17. Gunn advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, allowing Jacobs to bring in Odenwaelder with a sacrifice fly to right center. Thanopoulos then scored on back-to-back wild pitches.
Tied at 3-3, Kean responded in the bottom half of the frame. Joe O'Connor '14 started the inning off with a walk and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. After stealing third, Ryan Reitmeyer '16 drove him home for the winning run on a sacrifice fly to right field as the Cougars held on for the 4-3 win.