Baseball routs Hamilton 49-7 over three games, preps for Cardinals

Baseball brutalized a completely outmatched Hamilton squad this past weekend as the Ephs outscored the Continentals 49-7 over the course of three games – a figure that made football’s 23-0 drubbing of the institution a nail-biter by comparison. The weekend sweep puts the Ephs’ record at 13-6 overall and 5-1 in the NESCAC West, good for a 0.5 game lead over the Panthers of Middlebury in divisional play.

“We’re pretty happy with where we are right now,” said tri-captain Billy Casolo ’02. “We started off pretty slowly down in Florida, but we’re playing much better now and our confidence is definitely building up.”

The team has put up some staggering statistics so far this season with seven regulars hitting over .350. Jabe Bergeron ’04 is, once again, leading the team in most offensive categories – his six homers, 28 RBI, .568 OBP and .910 SLG are all good for the team lead among regulars.

That being said the team has already lost more games this season than it did in its spectacular 33-5 season last year. The 2001 squad was the most dominant in Williams history and the 17th-ranked Ephs were the first to finish the season ranked in a national poll.

All six of the Eph losses came during the team’s annual swing through Florida – including a 9-0 conference loss to Middlebury at the end of the trip and a devastating 7-6 loss to a terrible Grinsell squad. Though the Ephs put up some impressive offensive numbers during the Florida trip, a lack of clutch hitting, shoddy defense and some control problems from the pitching were the main causes of the team’s struggles.

“We have a solid team, but we’re simply not as good as we were last year,” said Dave Barnard, head coach of baseball. “We lost our number one starter to graduation and our number two to injury as well as two all-league players on offense.”

The team looked far better over the weekend, playing good defense behind strong performances from its pitchers. Needless to say, the offense was on. In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, Casolo led the way going 3-for-3 (two doubles) with two runs scored and two RBI as the Ephs won 19-4.

Eric Fagan ’02 was also 3-for-3, scoring three of the Ephs runs. Andy Herr ’02 (2-for-5, three RBI) and Matt Dahlman ’04 (2-for-3, one run scored) rounded out the Eph offensive onslaught.

The pitching was done exclusively by first-years, starting with winning pitcher Chris Bodnar ’05 who went four innings giving up three earned runs. Noah Allen ’05, Justin Anderson ’05 and Jon Melton ’05 each pitched an inning in relief with Anderson giving up a run on one hit and one walk while Allen and Melton pitched scoreless innings.

In the nightcap, the Ephs only managed a three-run lead after the first three innings. Taking their cue from an unbelievable offensive barrage by the New York Mets the night before against the Atlanta Braves, the Ephs broke out for eight runs in the fourth inning en route to a 13-1 final.

Tri-captain Mark Scialabba ’02 led the way going 3-for-4 (two-run homer) with three RBI; Bergeron was 3-for-5 (solo homer) with three RBI. Casolo had a two-RBI triple.

Ben Hamm ’03 pitched the complete game for the Ephs, giving up only eight hits and two walks. The Continentals scored their only run in the ninth inning, breaking up Hamm’s bid for a shutout.

On Saturday, the Ephs were victorious 17-2. The offense was provided by Bergeron, Scialabba and Casolo who all hit two-run homers. Staff ace Bobby Coppola ’03 got the win going eight innings allowing merely two unearned runs while striking out four.

Despite the team’s dominance over the weekend, Barnard warns against taking too much out of the weekend. “Hamilton is one of the worst baseball teams in America,” said Barnard. “They couldn’t beat you and me.” That being said, Barnard was excited by the defense his team played, particularly by slick-fielding shortstop Scott Johnson ’05.

The Ephs’ first real test of the season will be this weekend as they take on a talented Wesleyan squad. “Wesleyan is definitely our main competition. This weekend is really going to show what we are as a team,” said Casolo.

Though the Wesleyan team looks good on paper, injuries have taken a toll and they will likely not be 100 percent for this weekend’s match-up. Ace pitcher Will James has been out all season and it is doubtful he will be able to play this weekend.

The team’s number two pitcher was hit in the head with a ball last weekend and was taken off the field in an ambulance – it is unknown whether he will be able to play this weekend. “Our pitching will do the job,” said Casolo. “We need to play well behind them in the field and keep hitting the ball like we have been.”

This weekend’s action begins with Wesleyan coming to the Purple Valley for a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The teams will then travel to Wesleyan for a single game on Sunday also at 1 p.m. The Ephs will get a tune-up for Wesleyan at their home opener today at 4:15 p.m. against Westfield State.