Amherst sweeps baseball, 4-3, 6-5

To lose a baseball game by one run is frustrating, but to lose four consecutive games by one run is mentally exhausting. Baseball (13-9, 3-2 in the NESCAC) lost its third and fourth straight games on Sunday as Amherst (14-6-1, 6-2) swept Williams 4-3 and 6-5. These losses marked the second sweep of the Ephs in two weeks as Williams was swept by Tufts on April 6.

The losses drop Williams from first place in the NESCAC West and make upcoming games with Wesleyan, Hamilton and a makeup game against Amherst critical if the Ephs hope to return to the conference tournament.

After taking Saturday off because officials wrongly cancelled the 149th anniversary game due to projected poor weather conditions, the Ephs fought hard throughout all of Game 1 on Sunday. The Ephs, who have struggled with offensive consistency in the past, got the ball rolling early, knocking three hits and one run in the top of the first. Co-captain Max Pinto ’08 singled up the middle to bring Robin Allemand ’10 home and give the Ephs an early 1-0 lead.

Dan Benz ’09, who pitched a strong first inning, allowing no hits and walking only one batter, found himself in trouble in the second. With two outs and a man on second Benz walked two and threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score. Amherst’s Josh Card then stepped up to the plate and homered down the left field line, scoring three runs and giving the Jeffs a comfortable 4-1 lead.

Williams made the game interesting in the top of the sixth, when the team started hitting. Co-captain James DiCosmo ’08 started the Ephs off with a single up the middle, which brought him to second base after an error by Amherst. Pinto then reached second on another Amherst error, which also scored DiCosmo. Chad Brown ’10 then knocked Pinto home with a single to right field to make it a one-run game. Despite great closing pitching from Paul Burgdorf ’10, Williams could not produce another run and lost the seven-inning game, 4-3.

Game 2 of the doubleheader played out much the same way as the first contest. Williams again got off to a very strong start in the top of the first. Three consecutive walks and a wild pitch put the Ephs up by one. Amherst then changed pitchers with two on and no outs. With one out Brown singled up the middle but ended up on third after two throwing errors by Amherst. The hit scored both DiCosmo and Pinto, giving Williams an early 3-0 lead. Zack Stone ’09 then brought Barren home on a groundout to second.

Williams advanced its lead by another run when in the fourth inning Trey Pendery ’08 hit brown home on a fielder’s choice. Great pitching by Ben Horwitz ’09 held the Ephs 5-0 lead in tact into the sixth inning. But Amherst gained a little momentum in the bottom of the sixth, scoring two runs to bring the score to 5-2.

The Ephs held the lead until the bottom of the ninth when things started to unravel with Matt Gustafson ’08 and then Tom Hester ’11 on the mound. Amherst took advantage of their last opportunity to score and converted four runs from three hits and two Williams errors to take the game, 6-5.

“Losing four straight one-run games is tough, but it shows we are able to play with anyone,” DiCosmo said. “A big hit here or there can mean the game, and everyone is pretty confident that some of the breaks will start going our way if we keep playing well.”

After a tough few weeks the Ephs hope to turn their playing around at Castleton State tomorrow for a non-conference game and then against Hamilton at home this weekend.