April 20, 2009

The Middlebury College baseball team earned a mid-week win over Skidmore before travelling to Amherst for a three-game NESCAC West series. Junior Erich Enns' (Lansdale, Pa.) RBI single in the bottom of the ninth capped a four run comeback for Middlebury over visiting Skidmore 15-14 at Forbes Field on Wednesday. The Panthers built an early 9-1 lead only to see the Thoroughbreds charge back in the late innings, taking a 14-11 lead into the final frame.

Middlebury scored three runs in each of the first three innings off Skidmore starter Zack Rudman, highlighted by a two RBI double by sophomore Donald McKillop (Poway, Calif.) in the second inning. Trailing 9-1 in the fourth, Rudman, who moved to the DH spot after the third inning, got a pair back, connecting on a two-run homer off Panther sophomore starter Scooter Scott (Marlboro, Vt.).

The Thoroughbreds added two more in the fifth off junior reliever Matt Lowes (Houston, Texas) before scoring four more off Lowes in the top half of the seventh, cutting the Middlebury lead to 10-9. Logan Arena's pinch hit, two RBI double to deep right center highlighted the comeback.

In the eighth, Skidmore, with runners on second and third and no outs, took their first lead at 11-10 when Matt Pisani lined a double down the right field line for two RBI. Pisani's two-bagger chased Panther reliever Matt Joseph (Alexandria, Va.) as rookie Dirk vanDuym (Madison, Wis.) was called in to get out of the jam. With no outs and a runner on second, vanDuym quickly loaded the bases, but got out of the inning with a force out at home and a key 1-2-3 double play to end the Skidmore threat. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Thoroughbred reliever Ed Reilly enticed sophomore Nick Angstman (Williston, Vt.) into a two-out fielder's choice, but the ball was mishandled in the infield, allowing McKillop to score from third, knotting the game at 11.

In the ninth, Skidmore again loaded the bases with no outs. Pisani walked in the first of three Skidmore runs. With one out and the bases still loaded, Rudman was hit by a vanDuym pitch forcing in another run. Arena ended the scoring, plating Justin Morelli on an infield fielding error. The Thoroughbreds scored three runs, without a hit, for a 14-11 lead heading into the home half of the ninth.

After a pair of walks to seniors Tim Dillon (Dracut, Mass.) and Peter Bourdon (Simsbury, Conn.) to start the inning, the Panthers sent the meat of their order to the plate against Reilly. Junior Danny Seymour (Weston, Conn.) connected on a two RBI double to left center, plating Bourdon and Dillon. McKillop followed with a hard single up the middle, scoring Seymour and tying the game 14-14. With no outs, senior Mark Shimrock (Lansdale, Pa.) doubled to right, pushing McKillop to third, setting up Enns' game-winning single to left field and the 15-14 comeback win.

Shimrock and Enns each collected three hits for Middlebury as McKillop added three RBI on two hits. Rudman had a huge day for Skidmore, going 4-5 with the homer and five RBI as Pisani chipped in three RBI on a 2-3 day at the plate. VanDuym (1-0) earned the win, pitching the final two innings, striking out three Thoroughbred batters, allowing three runs, one earned, for his first victory of the season. Reilly (2-3), taking the mound with two outs in the eighth, is credited with the loss, giving up four earned runs, retiring just one batter.

Middlebury dropped game one of a three-game NESCAC West series at Amherst by a score of 5-3. Amherst scored two runs in the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie and added another two in the eighth, while Middlebury scored once in the eighth and once in the ninth but had its comeback attempt fall short. Junior Teddy Blank earned the win by pitching 2.2 innings of relief to improve to 2-1, while Angstman took the loss to drop to 1-3.

Amherst starting pitcher Ryan Healy walked the lead-off hitter in each of the first two innings but escaped unharmed each time thanks to some good defense by the Lord Jeffs. The hosts responded with the game's first run in the bottom half of the second when sophomore shortstop Jose Espinosa sent a single through the left side of the infield to drive in classmate Alex Coburn, who had reached on an error.

Middlebury threatened in the top of the third when a Bourdon double was followed by a Dillon walk. Both runners advanced on a Seymour groundout to set up a second-and-third situation with two outs, but more solid defense got Healy out of the jam. McKillop ripped a liner to right field and seemed to have two RBIs coming his way, but Kevin Heller made a stellar diving catch to his right to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.

The visitors had runners at the corners in the fifth, but a failed sacrifice bunt came back to haunt them as Healy once again pitched out of a jam by getting the inning's final batter to ground out to Espinosa. Middlebury broke through in the sixth when McKillop finally caught a break and led off with a double to right field. Shimrock followed with a double of his own to tie things up at 1-1, but Healy regained his composure and got the next three batters to fly out.

The Jeffs regained the lead in the seventh when first-year Thomas Wheeler led off with a single to left field and was moved over to second base by a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by senior captain Angus Schaller. Pinch runner John Wagner advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a passed ball to hand Amherst a 2-1 lead.

Sophomore Brian Merrigan reached second, before Will Lawton earned an RBI-double to left center that gave Amherst a 3-1 advantage.

Middlebury came right back with a run in the eighth when Shimrock led off with a walk and Enns followed with a single to right. Both runners advanced on a passed ball and senior Andrew Matson (Coventry, R.I.) capitalized by sending a deep fly ball to center field to bring home the Panthers' second run on a sacrifice fly.

Heller handed the momentum right back to Amherst by leading off the bottom of the eighth with a triple that made its way down the line to the fence in right field. In the ensuring at-bat senior Brendan Powers ripped a single to right for his 10th RBI of the season, giving the Jeffs a 4-1 lead. Powers moved to second on a single by first-year Mike Samela and scored when Dylan Joyce reached on an error.

Blank retired the first two batters of the ninth inning in quick fashion, but Seymour started a rally when he reached on an error. An RBI-single by McKillop cut Middlebury's deficit to two, but that's as close as the visitors would get. Sophomore Pat Harris retired the lone batter he faced to earn the save, as he got Enns to pop up to Lawton to end the game.

Healy allowed one earned run on six hits and three walks in 6.0 innings, while Blank surrendered two unearned runs on three hits and three walks. Middlebury hitters did not have a single strikeout to go with their six walks, leaving 11 men on base throughout the game. Angstman surrendered three unearned runs on six hits during 7.0 innings of a solid performance, striking out six and walking two.

Wheeler picked up two hits for the fourth consecutive game to increase his batting average to .447, while the deadly 3-4-5 combination of McKillop, Shimrock and Enns each had a pair of hits for Middlebury.

The Amherst College baseball team scored a combined 24 runs and got a pair of stellar pitching performances during a doubleheader sweep of Middlebury on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field. After earning a 7-5 come-from-behind win in the first game, Amherst used a 12-run seventh inning to cruise to a 17-1 victory in the nightcap.

The Lord Jeffs improve to 14-9 overall and 7-3 in the NESCAC West, while the Panthers drop to 9-14 (1-7 NESCAC West). Angus Schaller led Amherst on the day going 5-for-7 with five RBIs and three runs scored.

Amherst overcame an early five-run deficit in the first game by scoring seven unanswered runs, while sophomore Max McKenna fired a complete game to improve to 3-3 on the season. Senior Steve Shortle (Rutland, Vt.) (2-4) allowed six runs in 4.1 innings to pick up the loss for the Panthers.

Middlebury took advantage of some sloppy Amherst defense and scored five unearned runs in the top of the second, with Bourdon, Seymour and McKillop each recording an RBI-single. After Shimrock walked to load the bases, Enns drove in a pair with a double to right to give the Panthers an early 5-0 lead.

Amherst managed to get one back in the bottom of the second thanks to an RBI-single up the middle by Thomas Wheeler. The Jeffs threatened with the bases loaded and the heart of their order up in the third inning, but Amherst's big bats couldn't come up with any runs this time around.

The hosts cut their deficit to one in the bottom of the fourth when Schaller, Brian Merrigan and Will Lawton each had an RBI-single to make it a 5-4 game. Amherst kept rolling and took the lead for good in the fifth when senior Brendan Powers ignited a rally with a leadoff double that dropped just out of the reach of a diving Dillon in right field. After Powers came around to score to tie things up at 5-5, a double by Scott Shaffer chased Shortle from the game and put runners on second and third. Scott came in to pitch and was greeted by a scorching Schaller line drive that one-hopped the fence and gave the Jeffs their first lead of the afternoon, 6-5.

After a 1-2-3 inning from McKenna in the top of the sixth, Lawton led off the bottom half of the frame with a single before stealing second and advancing to third on a deep fly-out. Designated hitter Alex Coburn gave Amherst its final run with a sacrifice fly to make it a 7-5 game.

Middlebury had runners on second and third with only one out in the seventh, but McKenna buckled down and got the next two batters to fly out. In addition to allowing no earned runs, McKenna struck out four and walked only one, surrendering nine hits in seven innings. Shortle allowed six runs (three earned) on eight hits in 4.1 innings, striking out three and walking two. Lawton and Schaller went 3-for-4 and 2-for-3, respectively, while Enns led Middlebury by going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.

Amherst jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning of the nightcap, adding three runs in the third and one in the fourth. With a 5-1 lead heading into the seventh, the Jeffs erupted for 12 runs to put the game well out of reach. The 12-run outburst was highlighted by a three-run home run by Schaller to give the hosts a 12-1 lead.

Despite the long wait in between innings, Amherst starting pitcher Ryan Platzbecker returned to the hill in the eighth to record his fourth 1-2-3 inning of the game. Pat Harris relieved Platzbecker and retired the first two batters of the ninth before handing the ball over to John D'Angelo who retired the lone batter he faced, ending the game on a soft grounder back to the mound.

Platzbecker, who improved to 3-0 on the season allowed only one earned run on four hits in 8.0 innings. The senior southpaw struck out eight and walked only one, lowering his earned run average to 2.45.

Joseph fell to 0-3, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits and one walk in 6.1 innings of work. Seymour accounted for Middlebury's lone RBI, a sacrifice fly in the top of the third that scored rookie Zach Roeder (Keene, N.H.), who led off the inning with a single to center.

In addition to Schaller's outstanding day, Shaffer was a combined 3-for-5 with four runs scored and four RBIs, while Heller went 3-for-5 with four RBIs in the nightcap. Every batter in the Amherst starting lineup recorded at least one hit.
. Baseball record: 9-14
. Up next: 4/21 vs. St. Michael's - 3:30, 4/22 vs. Plattsburgh - 4:00, 4/24 vs. Hamilton - 4:00, 4/25 vs. Hamilton (2) - 12:00