Baseball trumps Wesleyan in doubleheader

Baseball (19-9-1, 9-2 in the NESCAC) stretched its win streak to eight games and clinched both the NESCAC West and Little Three titles last week. The team downed Union 15-7 on April 20 before domianting Southern Vermont 17-1 on Wednesday. The men then took the first two games of its series against Wesleyan at home on Saturday to claim the regular season conference title and the Little Three with dominating wins in series over both Wesleyan and Amherst. The third game of the series was meant to have been played on Sunday in Middletown, Conn., but was postponed due to weather.

The Little Three title is the team’s first since 2007. Conference dominance is nothing new to the Ephs, however: The team can now boast four consecutive NESCAC West titles.

Saturday saw Wesleyan start the first game of the double header off strong, as the Cardinals scored four runs in the first inning for a 4-0 lead that Williams would soon erase. Paul Burgdorf ’10, who gave up all four runs in the first, stepped up to pitch nearly perfectly the rest of the game, only giving up one hit in the showdown’s remaining six innings. “Paul pitched a complete game and gave a dominating performance,” Head Coach Bill Barrale said when asked about the key to the team’s win. “It was nice to see him settle down.”

The Ephs got on the board after the bottom of the first when captain Al Mathews ’10 crossed the plate on a passed ball to make the score 4-1 in favor of Wesleyan. Williams then got the offense going in the third and fourth innings, scoring four runs in each, a number of them unearned due to Wesleyan pitching woes. Two more runs in the bottom of the fifth, knocked in by Andrew Bishop ’13 and Mathews, put the Ephs up 11-4 heading into the sixth inning. The score would hold to give the men the win as the game closed after seventh. Mathews led the way for the Ephs offensively, going 3-3 at the plate and driving in three of the team’s runs in the first game while also scoring two.

“A lot of the runs were scored with two strikes against us, and that was great,” Barrale said when asked about the team’s offensive push.

The second game of the day was a hard-fought battle. Harry Marino ’12 started out pitching strong for the Ephs, as the sophomore gave up only one run in the first five innings. The game remained scoreless until the third, when Wesleyan scored its first run off Marino. Williams got on the board in the fourth inning, when James Allison ’11 scored off of Mathews’s left-field single to tie the game at 1-1. Mathews then scored on a wild pitch and Chad Brown ’10 followed him home soon after off a single by Cameron Susk ’12 to put Williams up 3-1.

The men tallied two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to widen their lead, but then Marino ran into trouble in the sixth inning due to weak defensive play behind him. The Cardinals scored four runs in sixth before Dan Grossman ’12 relieved Marino for its remainder and stopped the Cardinals’ rally. Three of the Cardinals’ four runs were unearned due to two Eph errors on the inning. The teams entered the seventh frame tied 5-5.

Grossman gave up a run to the Cardinals in the top of the seventh, and the Ephs looked to be in trouble, as they could not counter in the bottom of the inning and entered the eighth down 6-5. However, Williams rallied in the eighth, as Grossman and Jimmie Ray ’13 combined to pitch a scoreless inning before Barren and Brown knocked in two more Eph runs during Williams’ turn at the plate. Brown then made it home on a wild pitch to put the Ephs up 8-6 as the Cardinals stepped up for their final at bat. Ray then stepped onto the mound to bring home the win for his team, and the rookie threw two key strikeouts in the inning to hold the score at 8-6 and to clinch a sweep of the weekend’s double header.

This weekend’s victories came on the heels of two crushing wins over Southern Vermont and Union earlier in the week. The Ephs handily defeated the Mountaineers 17-1 Wednesday after dismissing the Dutchmen 15-7 on April 20.

Williams utilized the depth of this year’s team against Southern Vermont last Wednesday. Ben Oliva ’12, Grossman, Ray and Susk all saw time on the mound, while 11 different Ephs contributed to the offense on the day. Brown slammed a double in the first inning to bat in three runs in one go. Patrick Blizzard ’13 followed Brown’s lead, batting in three more Eph runs in the second inning with a triple. A number of other Ephs contributed at the plate to bring the final score to 17-1.

On April 20, Wilson Barr ’11 pitched the first five innings for Williams against Union, giving up four runs. Dan Marcet ’11 and Tom Hester ’11 each pitched two innings later in the game before Evan Oleson ’12 stepped in to close the game for the Ephs. Rookie KC Murphy ’13 was key in the 15-7 win, batting in three RBIs during the course of the game.

Williams hosted Union last night, but results came in too late to report. The men will travel to RPI for a 4 p.m. game this afternoon before hitting the road again for a game at Springfield tomorrow afternoon. The Wesleyan rematch has been moved to Saturday: The men will travel to Wesleyan for a 1 p.m. game instead of facing off with scheduled opponent MIT. They will then look to the NESCAC Tournament, which will be held May 7-9 at Tufts, who recently clinched first in the East Division. The Ephs, currently ranked first in the West Division, have high hopes for NESCACs and also even further into the postseason.