Baseball clinches post-season spot

Baseball’s nine-game win streak came to a close on Sunday with a loss to Wesleyan (16-13, 6-5 in the NESCAC) at home. However, the Ephs (20-8, 8-3) took the series 2-1 with two wins the day before in Middletown, Conn, and clinched a spot in the NESCAC tournament in the process. Williams looks to finish its regular season strong with a week full of games concluding with the 150th anniversary of collegiate baseball against Amherst at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield on Sunday (for more information, see page 1). Assuming Amherst beats Hamilton earlier in the week, the game will determine the top seed in the NESCAC West.

Sunday’s matchup began with the Cardinals jumping out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The Ephs responded in the bottom of the inning when Taylor Mikell ’09 drove in Cameron Susk ’12 and Robin Allemand ’10 with a single to left field. However, Wesleyan added another run in the third, two more in the fourth, and two in the sixth to take a four-run lead over the Ephs entering the bottom of the sixth inning. Williams was able to score two more runs in the remainder of the game but could not overcome Wesleyan’s lead, and the Ephs fell 8-6.

Co-captain Ben Horwitz ’09 pitched 4.0 innings and allowed six runs. Despite the Ephs’ recording 12 hits to the Cardinals’ nine, Williams could not put a rally together, giving Wesleyan the final game in the series.

The day before Williams solidified its postseason spot, taking the doubleheader from Wesleyan. The Ephs had a powerful first several innings in Game 1, scoring 10 runs in the first four innings. Al Mathews ’10 went 3-for-4 in the game and scored two runs, while Chad Brown ’10 had four RBIs off of two hits. Jim Entwisle ’10 also had a strong game at the plate, going 2-for-3 and scoring two runs.

Co-captain Dan Benz ’09 shutout Wesleyan until the final inning. Benz left the game after having pitched six full innings, allowing only two runs and recording seven strikeouts. The Cardinals then scored three more runs off of Zach Stone ’09 in the final inning, but could not overcome the Ephs’ insurmountable lead and fell 10-5.

Game 2 was a bit of a different story for Williams. Paul Burgdorf ’10 pitched 3.0 innings and allowed five runs (one earned). Harry Marino ’12 entered the game in the fourth to relieve Burgdorf and pitched the remaining six innings and gave up three more runs to the Cardinals.
Despite reliable hitting from Mathews, Brown and Mikell, the Ephs entered the eighth inning trailing by two runs. Williams’ offense then exploded, batting through the lineup and scoring seven runs. The Ephs added two more runs in the ninth to extend their lead to 13-6. Wesleyan attempted a comeback in the bottom of the ninth, but its two runs were not enough, and the men took the come-from-behind victory 13-8.

With the win in the series against Wesleyan, along with its 3-0 win over Southern Vermont last Wednesday, the Ephs are happy with the week’s outcome. “This weekend’s series went pretty well,” Mikell said. “We had a lot of good moments, a few not so good moments, and we didn’t win all three games, but we clinched a spot in the tournament and now we have a chance to play Amherst for the top seed.”

However, before they get to the historic game that will decide the regular season winner of the NESCAC West, Williams must play four more games. The Ephs see their busy week as good preparation for Sunday. “The number of games we have this week is definitely good for us,” Mikell said. “They will keep our pitchers sharp, and give our hitters a chance to get a bunch of at-bats to get ready for this weekend. The bottom line is that we need this week to prepare us for this weekend’s game against Amherst. All of our games are important and of course we want to win them all, but from the beginning of the year we set our sights on this Amherst game as our biggest of the season. Now that the top position in the NESCAC West is riding on it, it’s even bigger than we imagined.”

Baseball played Skidmore yesterday but the results came in too late for publication. Williams will face RPI at home today, followed by a game against Springfield on Thursday. The men will then take on MIT in a doubleheader on Saturday before playing Amherst in Pittsfield Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.

The Ephs will look to avenge their two losses to the Jeffs earlier this month and take the top seed in the NESCAC tournament. They also look forward to being a part of such a historic tradition. “We look at Sunday as a great opportunity for our team, for the program and for Williams College sports,” Horwitz said. “Nobody expects more from this team than the people on it, and we look forward to a chance at redemption against Amherst.”