Baseball Drops Pair At Amherst

April 18, 2009

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. Steve Shortle (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 Peter Bourdon, Danny Seymour and Donald McKillop each recording an RBI-single. After Mark Shimrock walked to load the bases, Erich 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 Tim 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. Scooter 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.

Middlebury starting pitcher Matt 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 Zach Roeder, 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.