Baseball scores 59 runs over six straight wins

Baseball’s bats finally awoke from an offensive slumber, which included no runs in 16 innings against Wesleyan last weekend, exploding for 59 runs over the course of the week. Riding on this offensive explosion, the Ephmen won all six games against conference foes Wesleyan, Skidmore, Bowdoin and Hamilton. The team now sits at 5-3 in the NESCAC (16-6 overall), good enough for third place in the NESCAC West division.

The Ephs capped off their busy week as they traveled to Hamilton for a doubleheader against the struggling Continentals. Hamilton is off to a rough start this year (2-18, 0-8 in the NESCAC) and sits in last place in the NESCAC West. The Eph sluggers were merciless as they lit up the Hamilton pitching staff and its 6.39 ERA for 29 runs in just two games.

The Ephs’ Ryan Paylor ’04 took the mound in the second game to face Matt Keough for the Continentals. Paylor put in an impressive performance for the Ephs in his second start of the year. He struck out 10 in 7.1 innings of work, allowing just one run before being relieved by Bobby Coppola ’03 in the eighth inning. Paylor is now 2-0 with a stingy 1.45 ERA on the season.

The real story of the game was the Williams offense, however. Eph hitters belted out five homeruns, one each by Austin Lehn ’03, Mark Chmiel ’05 and Michael McCarthy ’06. Jabe Bergeron ’04 also contributed his seventh and eighth home runs of the season. Overall, the team got 18 runs on 20 hits, including a backbreaking 8-run send-off in the top of the ninth, on its way to an 18-1 victory.

The first game played similarly to the second. Once again, the Eph offense was strong, scoring 11 runs in the seven-inning contest, shortened because it was part of a doubleheader. Matthew Dahlman ’04 hit the only homerun of the game for the Ephs off of Hamilton pitcher Nick DeMartini. Dahlman is hitting .400 with the second most extra-base hits on the team with nine. He is tied with Lehn for second on the team with 22 RBI, but the homerun was his first of the year.

Matt Brown ’06 continued his perfect freshman spring as he pitched his fourth victory of the year. He allowed four runs on seven hits as the Ephs emerged victorious, 11-4.

Brown has won every game he has started this year, and his four wins are the most on the team. He has a 3.65 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched. Coppola performed mop-up duty in the first game also. He now has a 2.95 ERA and 17 strikeouts in eight relief appearances.

On Saturday, the Ephs swept another doubleheader from the Bowdoin Polar Bears, winning the first game by a score of 1-0 and the second 11-3. The Polar Bears are 3-4 in the NESCAC with a 12-13 overall record. As the third place team in the NESCAC East, they were a much more critical test for the Ephs.

The Williams bats were lively in the second game of the afternoon, as Benjamin Hamm ’03 started against Bowdoin’s Marc Bulger. Bulger sported a 3.60 ERA on the season with three victories and just one loss, but the Ephs got to him early, as Bulger gave up nine runs, six of them earned, along with seven hits and three walks in merely 2.1 innings of work. Phil Michael ’04 got his first homerun of the year in a breakout performance, going 2-for-2 with three RBI and scoring two runs. Bergeron went 3-for-3, contributing two RBI and two runs, and Dahlman was 3-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored.

Hamm finally got some run support as he boosted his record up to .500 with his second win of the season. He now has a 4.03 ERA in 29 innings and has walked just four batters. The big lead allowed Hamm to pitch just two innings before Williams’ Todd Garbatini ’03 and John Melton ’05 came in for a couple innings of work in relief appearances.

The first Bowdoin game was the only nail-biter of the weekend, but the contest was well worth the price of admission. The game pitted the Ephs’ Chris Bodnar ’05 against Bowdoin’s Jared Porter. Porter’s season ERA is 2.08, but the game was his first start of the year. Meanwhile Bodnar, last year’s NESCAC Rookie of the Year, has racked up a 1.67 ERA this year with 33 strikeouts in 32.1 innings.

Both pitchers managed to go the distance in a taut pitcher’s duel, as Lehn knocked in the only run with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The play was set up by Bergeron’s one-out single, followed by a stolen base. After Lehn’s outfield hit, Bergeron cruised around third base, but arrived home after the relay reached the plate. The quick-thinking Bergeron hurdled over the Bowdoin catcher’s tag and stepped on the plate for the game-winning run. Bodnar allowed just one hit in his second victory of the year. He is now 2-2.

“My approach on the mound is to get the batter currently up out,” Bodner said. “I take it one batter at a time. I try not to think about who is coming up next or what the score is because that detracts from my attention to the batter at hand, and once you do that, you put yourself at a disadvantage.”

On Wednesday, the Ephs defeated Skidmore 10-4 in a nine inning game. Leo Salinger ’04 took the victory in his third start of the season. He is now 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA. In a notable improvement, Salinger has allowed just two walks in his 16.2 innings of work.

The Ephs’ Michael Overend ’06 continued his solid hitting, going 3-for-3 with four RBI, including a three-run homerun, and also earning two walks. Overend leads the team in batting average, hitting .464 in 28 at-bats. Lehn also hit a homerun, his first of the season.

On Tuesday, the Ephs took their revenge on Wesleyan, as they managed to score eight more runs than in their first two games of the series combined en route to an 8-6 victory. Brown started the 9-inning game and allowed five earned runs on five hits in his five inning performance. He also struck out six batters and walked one.

Coppola relieved Brown in the sixth inning and earned his second save of the year. Coppola also contributed three hits, as did Lehn. Bergeron went 2-for-4 with two homeruns and three RBI, while Scott Johnson ’05 hit his first homerun of the year and knocked in two runs.

The Ephs’ successful week puts them on track for the big upcoming weekend series against Amherst. A doubleheader is scheduled against the Lord Jeffs on Saturday afternoon.

Amherst sits in first place in the NESCAC West with a 5-1 conference record, but they have yet to be tested by a strong opponent. At stake for the Ephs will be a share of the Little Three title and a chance to move up in the NESCAC standings.

“The games against Amherst this weekend are pivotal to us making the NESCAC tournament. We need to win at least two out of the three to guarantee at least second place in the NESCAC West and a spot in the NESCAC tournament,” Bodner said. He will be starting the first game against Amherst. “Obviously we would like to take all three from them and make a push for first place, which is still within our grasp,” he said.