HARTFORD, Conn. – The Amherst College baseball team was no stranger to adversity this season, but they put their perseverance on display time and time again and were rewarded on Sunday afternoon as they defeated Tufts University 3-2 to capture the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship at Dibennedeto Stadium.
Amherst needed to win their final two regular season games to even make the conference tournament, and then had to come from behind in extra innings in their tournament opener against Bates.
On Sunday, the Mammoths again showed their resiliency by scoring two runs in the bottom of the seventh to overcome a 2-1 Tufts lead en route to claiming their fourth title overall and first since 2013.
The eventual winning play came on a fielder's choice with the bases loaded and one out. Ariel Kenney '18 grounded out to the second baseman and brought home Severino Simeone '20 from third when the Jumbos were unable to turn the double play and end the inning.
Right behind Simeone came Amherst second baseman Max Steinhorn '18, who hadn't stopped at third as Tufts tried to turn two, and who dove into home to beat the throw and score from second base, giving the Mammoths their 3-2 lead.
Steinhorn and Nick Nardone '19 each had two of Amherst's eleven hits. Simeone scored twice, helping Amherst tie the game in the bottom of the third when he crossed the plate on a single to left field by Harry Roberson '18.
The Amherst bullpen was masterful in relief, with Stephen Burke '21 and Mike Dow '19 each throwing two scoreless innings. Burke gave up just one walk and picked up the win (2-0), while Dow was spotless over the final two frames and struck out two while collecting his team-leading seventh save.
Tufts (20-17) twice took the lead in the game, first in the top of the third when Malcolm Nachmanoff singled in Ryan Day, and again in the sixth with Casey Santos-Ocampo coming home on a double play after he had led off the frame with a double.
R.J. Hall went the distance for Tufts, surrending three earned runs but striking out seven batters and walking just one.
Davis Brown '19 started for Amherst and struck out seven as well, giving up two earned runs on nine hits over five innings.
Amherst (24-12) earns the NESCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Regional tournament. They will wait for the selections to come out on Monday morning to see what regional they will be sent to and who they will play.
Make sure to stay tuned to athletics.amherst.edu for all of the details about Amherst baseball's run to the NCAA Tournament!