Trinity, Tufts knock baseball out of NESCAC tournament

Baseball (25-12 overall, 9-3 in the NESCAC) concluded its season last weekend, falling out of the NESCAC tournament with losses to Trinity and Tufts. However, the team won its first game of the playoffs in style, breaking NESCAC postseason records for hits and runs scored in its 18-5 win over the Jumbos on Friday.

Despite its dominating win over Tufts in the first game, Williams struggled in both games on Saturday. In their second game of the day, an elimination game against Tufts, the Jumbos got off to a strong start, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning off starting pitcher Harry Marino ’12. Williams was later able to put one run on the board in the top of the third off of a Tufts error.

The Ephs then took the lead in the top of the fourth, scoring four runs to make the score 5-2 Williams. Chad Brown ’10 singled to center field and then advanced to second off an error by the Jumbos centerfielder. Pat Barren ’11 then came to the plate and knocked Brown home. A few batter’s later, Robin Allemand ’10 reached second on a fielder’s choice, leaving Barren out at third. Rookie Steven Maier ’12 then knocked one out of the park, scoring a two-run homerun. Barrett Allison ’09 then singled and stole second, allowing him to score when Al Mathews ’10 reached first on an error by the Jumbos shortstop.

However, the Ephs saw their first lead of the game quickly disappear as Marino and later Tommy Coleman ’10 fell apart in the bottom of the fourth inning. Marino began the inning with promise, forcing the first two batters to fly out. But with two outs and no one on, five Jumbos players were either walked or hit by a pitch to score seven more runs before Marino was relieved by Coleman. Coleman did not have much luck either, allowing two earned runs before he was replaced by Zach Stone ’09. Stone walked one batter before picking up the last out of the inning with a strikeout to get the Ephs out of the nine run Tufts rally.

With the score now 11-5, Williams had to play catch-up. The Ephs tacked on a total of three more runs in the fifth and sixth while the Jumbos put two more on the board. By the seventh inning the score was 13-8 and the incoming thunderstorm caused the rest of the Ephs season to be postponed to Sunday.

“It was a challenge to have the game split up by rain on Saturday,” said Ben Horwitz ’09. “It seemed like we were picking up some momentum as the game was stopped, and it was unfortunate that we were not able to get things going in time on Sunday. Tufts played better than we did in that game, and they deserve all the credit for beating us. It’s just disappointing to lose to the same team that we beat so handedly on Friday.”

On Sunday Williams was not able to regain its momentum and was knocked out of the postseason with a 15-9 loss.

Before facing Tufts on Saturday, Williams played Trinity, the defending NESCAC and Div. III national champions. The NESCAC East winning Knights took control of the game from the beginning, scoring five unanswered runs off pitcher Paul Burgdorf ’10 in the first three innings. Williams responded with a combined three runs in the fourth and sixth inning, all scored off of errors by Trinity. Dan Grossman ’12 relieved Burgdorf in the third and pitched the remainder of the game, allowing seven hits and three earned runs. In the end, Williams couldn’t rally and fell 8-3.

“Trinity is a very good baseball team,” Horwitz said. “They were able to get a couple of big hits and really dictated the game from the beginning. They played better than we did on Saturday, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened had we played them again.”

The Ephs first game of the tournament on Friday was a completely different story. The team handily beat Tufts 18-5, breaking NESCAC tournament records for hits and runs scored in the process. Co-captain Dan Benz ’09 picked up the win, pitching 7.0 innings and allowing five earned runs while getting plenty of help from the Eph batters. The team had 23 hits on the day compared to Tufts’ eight. Taylor Mikell ’09 went an impressive 4-for-4, with five RBIs and four runs scored. Brown had three hits and four RBIs while Stone, Allemand and Maier also had big days at the plate. Mathews was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. He finished the season with a team-high .466 batting average and 51 RBIs.

“Friday’s game was great for us,” Horwitz said. “Our hitters were swinging the bats well up and down the lineup, and Benz battled and pitched a great game. We felt like we set a great tone for the weekend, but unfortunately we were not able to keep that going.”

Despite the team’s disappointing exit from the NESCAC tournament, Williams had an impressive season and a few memorable wins. Williams finished the season with a .676 winning percentage and a NESCAC West championship. Discounting the NESCAC tournament, the team was undefeated on the road after spring break. Big wins over Div. I Fordham and Amherst in the 150th anniversary of college baseball highlighted the spring for the Ephs.

“Our team came up with some big wins this year, exciting wins when the pressure was on,” Stone said. “Two wins stick out in my mind from this year. The first is beating Amherst on national television, to give us home-field advantage and eliminate them from playoff contention. The other win I will always remember was against Div. I Fordham, on their home turf. This year we raised the profile of our program by getting those victories, and I think our program has a very bright future ahead of it.”