Middlebury Drops Both Ends of NESCAC Twinbill to Amherst

April 18, 2014

The Middlebury baseball team dropped both ends of its NESCAC West home-opening doubleheader on Friday afternoon to Amherst at Forbes Field. The Lord Jeffs (20-5, 6-1 NESCAC) earned a 3-0 win in game one, and edged the Panthers (4-14, 2-9 NESCAC) in the nightcap 2-1 in 10 innings. The teams will conclude the three-game series on Saturday at noon.

Middlebury threatened early in game one, loading the bases in the second and third innings, leaving seven men on base through three innings of play. Amherst took a 1-0 lead in the second inning Alex Hero singled to right and stole second as well as third. Dave Cunningham was hit by a pitch before moving to second on a wild pitch, leaving runners at second and third. Yanni Thanopoulos grounded out to second, plating Hero for the 1-0 lead.

The Lord Jeffs added two run in the fifth inning. Thanopoulos singled to second and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Tyler Jacobs. He later moved to third on a wild pitch, while Anthony Spina was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners. Amherst pulled off a double steal as Spina took second and Thanopoulos stole home on the throw to second. The Lord Jeffs added an unearned run when Andrew Vandini’s infield single ended with a throwing error, allowing Spina to cross the plate.

Middlebury rallied in the sixth, with a bunt single from Garrett Werner before a single to right by Matt Leach put runners on first and second. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they left two more runners on base and trailed 3-0 after six innings.

Amherst left two on in the top of the seventh, as did Middlebury in the bottom of the inning, as the Lord Jeffs emerged with the 3-0 victory.

Dylan Driscoll moved to 6-0 on the year, picking up the shutout victory with five strikeouts over seven innings of work. Cooper Byrne (1-3) suffered the loss, allowing two earned runs and four hits over 6.1 innings of work.

Joe MacDonald finished with a pair of hits for Middlebury, as the Panthers outhit the Lord Jeffs, 9-4 in game one.

The nightcap featured a pitcher’s showdown between Middlebury’s Eric Truss and Amherst’s John Cook.

In the top of the fifth, Amherst broke through against Truss when it pushed across an unearned run. Cunningham led off reaching via a Middlebury miscue, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Thanopoulos and eventually to third on a ground out. Spina lined a 1-1 pitch from Truss down the right field line just in front of Werner plating Cunningham.

The game remained that way until the bottom of the seventh when the hosts knotted the score at 1-1. Jason Lock started things off with a double down the left field line, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Werner and scored on a wild pitch by Cook.

Amherst threatened to take the lead in the ninth loading the bases on singles by Taiki Kasuga, Conner Gunn and an intentional walk to Cunningham. Truss worked out of the jam and forced extra innings, inducing a two-out grounder with a full count on Thanopoulos.

The visitors broke the 1-1 tie in the top of the 10th when Jacobs took a 3-1 pitch from Truss and sent a screaming line drive over the left field fence. Cook worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning for the complete-game victory.

Truss (0-5) suffered the tough-luck loss, going 9.0 innings giving up just two runs, one earned on eight hits. Jake Stalcup recorded three outs in the 10th for the Panthers.

Cook (3-2) threw 126 pitches in his complete-game win. The lefty surrendered one run on five hits, struck out seven and walked just one.

At the plate, Kasuga, Hero and Spina each produced multi-hit efforts in the nightcap for Amherst.