Baseball turns on offensive power against Hamilton

After crushing Elms and Castleton St. last Tuesday and Thursday, baseball (17-7, 6-2 in the NESCAC) continued its dominance, sweeping Hamilton (11-16, 2-6) last weekend. The Ephs’ offensive power and strong pitching have combined to allow Williams to outscore its opponents 63-19 in the past five games.

“We jumped out to early leads against Hamilton all weekend long,” said Zach Stone ’09. “That was important, because we were able to dictate to Hamilton on their own turf that we came focused and ready. Those early leads also allowed our pitchers to focus on throwing strikes and settling into the game. We also hit six home runs in the Hamilton series, which put the exclamation point on a number of big innings.”

Last Friday Williams began its series at Hamilton with a dominant 11-1 win. Co-captain Dan Benz ’09 earned the win with an impressive 7.0 innings pitched. He only allowed one run and held the Continentals to four hits while striking out six batters. Dan Grossman ’12 then pitched two shutout innings to end the game.

The game remained scoreless until the top of the fourth, when the Ephs finally got their offense going. Al Mathews ’10 singled to lead off the inning. Mathews then advanced to second two batters later when Taylor Mikell ’09 singled. The two base-runners both moved to second and third on a passed ball, setting up Chad Brown ’10 to earn two RBIs with a single. Pat Barren ’11 followed Stone’s single with one of his own to score Brown and put the Ephs up 3-0.

The Ephs added another run in the sixth when James Allison ’11 batted Stone in with a single. Brown led off the top of the eighth with a solo homerun, and Barren hit a two-run homerun two batters later. While the game was out of reach for the Continentals, they were able to put one run on the board in the eighth. The Ephs added four more in the top of the ninth to finish the game 11-1.

The Ephs had similar success in Game 1 on Saturday, beating the Continentals 10-3. Paul Burgdorf ’10 pitched the full nine innings, allowing seven hits and three earned runs. Williams scored five runs in the first two innings, with Mikell hitting a homer in the first and Stephen Maier ’12 hitting one in the second. The Ephs did not score again until the top of the ninth inning, when they secured five more runs to put the score at 10-0. Hamilton attempted a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, scoring three runs, but was unable to overcome Williams’ immense lead.

The team continued its offensive success in Game 2, outscoring the Continentals 16-9. Williams scored one run in both the first and third innings off of two RBIs by Mathews to take an early 2-0 lead. Taking advantage of struggling Continental pitchers, the Ephs added two more in the fourth.

But Hamilton came back in the bottom of the inning with three runs of its own off of two Williams errors. With the score 4-3 entering the fifth, Williams broke away with an explosive offensive effort. The Ephs put six runs on the board with the help of a solo homerun by Mathews and a three-run homerun by Maier to make the scored 10-3. The Ephs added another run the sixth.

Starting pitcher Ben Horwitz ’09 called it a day in the seventh inning, allowing only three runs (one earned) in the game. While the Continentals were able to tag the Williams bullpen for six runs in the seventh and eighth, the Ephs were able to put up five of their own to make the score 16-9. The Continentals couldn’t rally in the ninth, and the Ephs won 16-9.
“Offensive production made for an exciting weekend at Hamilton,” Horwitz said. “With Mathews, Barren, Mikell, Brown and Maier going deep, the pressure was off the defense.”
Last Thursday Williams topped Castleton St. at home 11-2. Rookie Eddie Nadal ’12 earned the win with five innings pitched, allowing one run and one hit. Nadal got help from Tommy Hester ’11, Dan Marcet ’11, Evan Oleson ’12 and Stone who each pitched an inning for the remainder of the game. Mathews and Susk both went 3-for-5 in the game with one and two RBIs respectively. Brown also had a standout game with two hits at four at bats, and three RBIs.

Elms also had trouble stopping Williams strong hitters. Mathews and Brown each had three RBIs while Robin Allemand ’10 and Stone recorded two a piece last Tuesday. Wilson Barr ’11 earned the win as the Ephs won 15-4.

With the sweep of Hamilton and the crushing of Castleton St. and Elms, Williams advances its win streak to six. Baseball hopes to continue its dominant play today against Southern Vermont and this weekend against Wesleyan, and the team always keeps the postseason in mind. “The Hamilton series put us in Position A as far as making the NESCAC playoffs this year,” Stone said. “If we play our game and take it one pitch at a time, we will be successful.”