It’s always tough when you know that your fate is up in the air, out of your hands, to be determined by somebody else. Unfortunately, consecutive losses to Amherst this weekend have put the Williams baseball team in exactly this predicament in regards to post-season play. A sweep of the Jeffs would have virtually guaranteed the Ephs a spot in NCAA tournament play. This scenario appeared likely after Williams’ 6-3 winning performance in the opener of the three game series.
However, Amherst rebounded to take the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday 5-4 and a nine-inning showdown on Sunday by the final of 10-6. With four games remaining, the Ephs will probably have to win at least three out of four, and even then still hope that the tournament selection committee will award them a bid.
In the opener down at Coombs field, Keith Surkont ’99 again showed why he is one of the best pitchers in New England division three. Surkont went all seven innings, striking out an incredible 13 batters, while allowing only three runs. Surkont kept the Amherst batters off balance all afternoon, mixing his blistering fastball with a wicked curve to set down one batter after another. His best inning was the fifth, as he struck out the side, the last batsmen on a 93 mile-per-hour heater.
The Williams offense depended on timely hits and capitalized on six walks to score its six runs. The team got two in the second when a single by Erik Fagan ’02 brought home Matt Sigrist ’99 and Jim Frew ’99. In the fourth, the Ephs’ three walks and an error let in three more runs. Mike Paolercio’s ’00 liner up the middle allowed Ryan Gunther ’01 and Alexi Evriviades ’01 to score. David Carrillo ’00 also added an RBI single in the inning.
Surkont cruised until the seventh when, with a comfortable 6-1 lead, he allowed back-to-back singles to open the frame. He ended up giving up three runs, but Surkont got out of the inning with two runners on when Sigrist made a fine catch down the right field line.
Williams entered the second match-up with the Jeffs with intentions of wrapping up the Little Three championship. Since both clubs had won two of three over Wesleyan, the victor of the series would win the 1999 title.
The Ephs sent Frew to the mound for game two, hoping that he could repeat what he did the previous week as a starter against the Cardinals. Frew was effective in his 4.1 innings, allowing four hits and three runs. However, when Frew was replaced, Williams had failed to score.
The Ephmen recovered in the sixth and put three runs of their own up on the board to tie it up. Fagan led off with a single, followed by an RBI double by Carrillo, succeeded by a triple by Jeff Russell ’99. Tim Albrecht’s ’01 sacrifice fly out to right knocked in Russell.
Instantly, the game took on a completely different face. Russell, the Ephs’ typical closer, was in to set down the Jeffs. Jordan Kroll cracked a leadoff double and gave Amherst a runner in scoring position. Russell got the next batter out, and then faced Kevin Downes. Russell appeared to have a strike out when Downes checked his swing, but the umpire ruled it a check and Downes stayed at the plate. He proceeded to hit an RBI single to give Amherst the lead. Eventually, Downes was driven home himself, and the Jeffs took a 5-3 lead into the final stanza.
In the bottom of the seventh, Frew and Paolercio delivered consecutive singles for the Ephs. After Fagan laid down a sacrifice fly, Carrillo scored Frew from third with a sacrifice fly. Russell then came up and popped up the first offering to Mike Sweeney to end the contest.
The next day, the club traveled to Amherst to crown the Little Three champion and hopefuly to improve its chances for NCAA play. A seven-run fourth inning by the Jeffs, however, overwhelmed the Ephs, who couldn’t come back and dropped a 10-6 decision. Though Williams jumped out to a 2-0 lead after three frames, Amherst jumped all over pitcher Mike Caffrey ’01 in the fourth. Caffrey went all nine innings and gave up 15 hits. Though Williams knocked up Downes for four runs and eight hits in his seven innings, it just wasn’t enough. Williams fell to 23-9 with the loss, while Amherst moved to 21-8.
Earlier in the week, Williams won games over Union, by the final of 5-3, and Westfield St., whom the Ephs decimated 37-4. Frew got the win in relief over Union, and Evriviades hit a solo home run. In the thrashing of Westfield, Albrecht, Gunther and Matt Starkey ’02 all contributed homers, and Gunther and Marshall Creighton ’02 had six and five RBI, respectively. The Ephs set an NCAA team record for hits in a single game with 40.
This week, Williams will face Springfield, MCLA and Middlebury with the hopes of picking up enough wins to garner a berth in the NCAA tourney. All four games are on the road, including the season finale doubleheader at Middlebury on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. With only six teams getting bids out of the Ephs’ region, the balloting should be very tight.