Baseball sluggers blast Cardinals

Williams men’s baseball extended their winning streak to five Saturday by beating the Wesleyan Cardinals in both games of a doubleheader held at Weston Field. The Ephs took full advantage of the beautiful baseball weather to show Parent’s Weekend visitors what a talented team they have assembled by beating the Cardinals 7-1 and 10-7.

The Ephs firepower at the plate began quickly in the first match-up of the doubleheader as co-captain Ian Macallister ’98 kicked off the festivities with a blast over the left field fence in the bottom of the first. Starting pitcher Matt Marvin ’98 and pitcher Matt Jewell ’98 were also supported by Mike Ostella ’98’s second inning triple and David Carillo ’00’s RBI double in the fourth, each of which contributed to a Williams 6-1 lead after four innings of play.

For the final three innings it was up to Jewell and the Williams defense to continue their domination and come away with a victory. They did this superbly as Jewell became harder to hit with each inning, allowing a total of five hits and one run over six innings. He was aided by the aggressive defensive play of infielders Mike Paolercio ’00 and David Joyce ’00, both of whom came up with critical defensive stops.

In the bottom of the fifth, Paolercio reached second on a dropped line drive to right-center, and advanced to third base on a beautiful bunt by Matt Sigrist ’99. Joyce then singled to drive in Paolercio, and Wesleyan found themselves at a 7-1 deficit that they could not recover from. Jewell’s solid pitching performance coupled with three hits apiece by Macallister and Carillo proved too much for Wesleyan as Williams headed into the second game up 1-0 and confident about their ability. This sentiment was supported by captain Macallister who stated, “We feel we can beat anybody when we play together as a team. We came in today very excited to battle Wesleyan, and by cutting down on our errors and having contributions from every player, we knew we would be successful.”

The confidence and offensive production of the Ephs baseball team would prove to be the difference in the second game, but not before a sloppy first inning by both teams left Williams up just 5-3 heading into the second. A few costly walks by starter Marvin in the top of the first were nullified by a three-run double by Sigrist at the bottom of the inning. Wesleyan again threatened in the second inning, but catcher Norm Liversidge ’00 halted the effort by gunning down a Wesleyan baserunner in what would have been a costly stolen base against the Ephs.

Despite giving up a solo homerun to Mark Traina of Wesleyan, Sam Landis ’98 performed well on the mound for three-and-a-third innings, giving up just two hits while striking out five. Meanwhile, defensive contributions continued to be the factor in the fifth inning as a diving Sigrist catch in right field and a grab at the wall by Carillo in left field brought the fans to their feet, while temporarily ending Wesleyan’s push for the lead.

Jim Frew ’98 replaced Landis on the mound in the fifth and successfully got Williams out of the inning unharmed. However, in the sixth inning Wesleyan mounted their best rally attempt of the day by scoring two runs on a bases loaded single by Dan Diamond. They would follow with a double that scored one and put the score to 7-5 in Wesleyan’s favor.

In the game scheduled for seven innings, Sigrist and Joyce started the seventh with walks before Macallister again performed under pressure by driving in two runs with a double to the wall in left center. With the game tied 7-7, extra innings were on tap as shortstop sensation Jeff Russell ’99 was called to the mound to prevent any further offensive production by Wesleyan. Russell performed beautifully on the mound and at the plate, and subsequently redeemed himself for a costly sixth inning error by pitching three scoreless innings while giving up only five hits. Due to critical defensive stops made by Paolercio and the talented Ryan Gunther ’01, Williams entered the bottom of the ninth with the score tied at seven and a chance to put the game away.

After singles by Macallister and Carillo, Russell took on the responsibility of ending the game by crushing a three run homer to left field. He stepped up big in each of the extra innings and carried the team to a 10-7 victory. A strong faith in the team on behalf of the fans was expressed by onlooker Joseph Bergeron ’01 who said, “We all knew it was just a matter of time before someone on this talented club came up big to bring home the win.” This was supported by captain Jewell’s testament that “Our team is playing our best baseball heading into a big game this week against Amherst. Against Wesleyan, we knew that their pitching was thin and than we could wear them down, and beating them only helps our chances of reaching our goal to make the NCAA tournament.”

It was all Williams earlier in the week when the Ephs defeated Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 14-5 under the competitive pitching of game winner Landis. Landis struck out four and gave up no runs in 5 1/3 innings in relief of starter Clint Olsen ’99.

The Ephs were powered by Joyce (4-5, 3 RBIs) and Liversidge (2-5, 4 RBIs) in their impressive road win. This week the 19-5 Ephs battle at home against Southern Vermont on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and against perennial rival Amherst on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.