Baseball sweeps Hamilton, MCLA

Baseball (15-9-1, 7-2 in the NESCAC) jumped to first place in the NESCAC West division after last weekend’s sweep of its series with Hamilton, which followed a victory over MCLA last Tuesday. Last weekend’s victories mark Williams’ first NESCAC sweep of the season.

Williams entered Saturday’s double-header with a 1-0 series lead. The Continentals got on the scoreboard first as left-handed pitcher Harry Marino ’12 gave up a run in the first inning, but the bottom of the first saw Chad Brown ’10 drive in Steve Maier ’12 and captain Al Mathews ’10 to put the Ephs up 2-1. Williams continued its offensive push in the second and third innings, with Maier, James Allison ’11, Taylor Mondshein ’13 and Andrew Bishop ’13 scoring one run each to bring the Ephs’ run total to six. Meanwhile the Continentals could not get a hold of enough of Marino’s pitches to counter. Williams maintained the lead until the top of the sixth, when they gave up four runs, but the men ultimately won the game 6-5. Marino pitched five innings, giving up three hits and four earned runs, before Tom Coleman ’10 entered the game to relieve him. Matt Berdoff ’12 then stepped in before Jimmy Ray ’13 came in to close the game and earn the save.

Eddie Nadel ’12 opened Saturday’s second game on the mound for the Ephs, giving up one run in the first inning. Nadel then locked down the Hamilton bats and Williams eventually responded with strong hitting, registering four runs in the bottom of the fourth to bring the score to 4-1. The Ephs continued their offensive run in the second as Allison hit a single to left field, allowing Maier to score before scoring himself after rounding the bases as Mathews batted him in. Mathews then scored off of an RBI from Pat Barren ’11. Williams added to its six-run lead in the fourth when Barren scored his second run of the game off of a Mondshein single. Mondshein also batted Mathews in at the bottom of the sixth. The Continentals went on the offensive at the top of the seventh, scoring five runs against Lucas Casso ’13 to turn the contest into a two-run game at 9-7. However, Williams sealed the deal in the bottom of the seventh, scoring two more runs and shutting down its opponents the rest of the way make the final score 11-7. Pat Blizzard ’13 pitched the final two innings for the Ephs to secure the win for Nadel.

Only one of Nadel’s runs on the day was earned, and the sophomore struck out five in 5.1 innings of work. Nadel leads all Ephs that qualify with a 3.00 ERA – which ranks him fourth in the conference – and a 3-1 record on the season.

Friday’s showdown saw Hamilton take the lead early, taking a 2-0 lead out of the first inning. The Continentals scored one more run before the Ephs were able to return the favor in the bottom of the fourth, when the men scored two runs. Hamilton again scored once more before Williams was able to go on a four-run offensive at the bottom of the eighth. Paul Burgdorf ’10 opened the game for the Ephs, pitching the first six innings but not earning the victory. Dan Grossman ’12 relieved Burgdorf in the seventh to register the win, while Ray closed the game and earned the save.

This weekend’s victories came after a 15-7 victory over MCLA April 13. Williams got off to a great start, scoring three runs in the first inning, and continued its offensive to earn three more runs in the second. Wilson Barr ’11 opened the game for the Ephs, pitching the first two innings before Berdoff stepped in to pitch the next four. MCLA briefly took the lead at the end of the second inning after scoring seven runs in quick succession to pull ahead 7-4, but the Ephs came back strong: Three third-inning runs, two in the fourth and an insurance run by Mathews in the fifth made the final tally 15-7 in favor of Williams.

“We played well in the games coming [into the season] and we’ve been playing better over the past couple of weeks. We’re getting used to New England [again],” Mathews said.

When asked about the week’s success, Mathews stressed the team’s moving parts finally coming together. “We just put together some solid innings,” he said. “We fielded the ball well and came up with some big hits. The pitching, the hitting, the fielding … everything just came together.”

The men faced off with Union last night, but results came in too late to report. The men will travel to Southern Vermont tomorrow before hosting their final NESCAC regular season series against Wesleyan this weekend. The series will determine the winner of the NESCAC West championship, as the Ephs and the Cardinals are tied for first in the division.

The NESCAC tournament will kick off May 7, when teams face off that afternoon at whichever school holds the highest seed in East Division at that time. Because Williams plays in the West Division, the Ephs will not have a chance to host the playoffs: The teams’ current tie for No. 1 in the NESCAC with Wesleyan, however, gives them a strong position to work from starting heading into the tournament in a few weeks’ time.

This weekend’s games are the only remaining factors in the men’s NESCAC ranking. Following Wesleyan, the team will face non-conference opponents RPI, Springfield, MIT and Westfield State in the coming weeks. “We’re in a great position right now,” Mathews said as he looked ahead at the next week’s schedule. “We have a big series against Wesleyan coming up that I know the whole team’s excited about. The winner of that series is the winner of the NESCAC West … We’ve won the NESCAC West the past three years, so hopefully we can make it a fourth.”

The team will host the first game against Wesleyan, which is set to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday.