Baseball secures playoff berth

Men’s baseball (16-17, 7-5 in the NESCAC) completed a three-game sweep of Hamilton over the weekend to secure one of four berths to the NESCAC Championship tournament.

Jimmy Ray ’13 recorded the final out of Sunday’s game, striking out the only batter he faced to secure the 6-4 victory for the Ephs and earn his third save of the season. PHOTO COURTESY OF HARTWELL EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY

On Saturday, the men’s pitching and hitting both stepped up with a playoff spot on the line, giving the Ephs 8-0 and 11-2 victories in the doubleheader. With their position in the playoffs secured before Sunday’s game, the Ephs battled from behind to win 6-4 over the Continentals. The wins over Hamilton followed a three-game winning streak last week. On Thursday, the men defeated Eastern Nazarene 10-3 at home after a close 6-5 win at RPI last Wednesday and a 10-3 trouncing of Union on April 24.

Steve Marino ’14 started on the mound in Sunday’s game and pitched five strong innings, allowing four runs, only one earned, on nine hits, two walks and one strikeout.  The game was a close contest, with the Ephs scoring two in the first after a leadoff single by Darren Hartwell ’13. A Hamilton error and a walk to Cameron Susk ’12 extended the inning until Marco Hernandez ’14 plated Susk with an RBI groundout for a 2-0 lead. Hamilton scored three unearned runs in the top of the third, but Taylor Mondshein ’13 drove Hartwell in with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 3-3.

After Hamilton got one back in the fourth, the men headed into the eighth down 4-3. Mondshein singled to lead off the inning, and Hernandez eventually plated him with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4-4. With two outs and no one on base, rookie Phil McGovern ’15 singled up the middle. Jimmy Ray ’13, who was in at third, then singled down the right field line to advance McGovern to third. KC Murphy ’13 doubled in both runners with a bomb to the gap in left-center to put the men up 5-4. The Ephs’ bullpen kept the Continentals off the board, using a combination of Dan Grossman ’12, Lucas Casso ’13 and Ray, who earned his third save of the year in the 6-4 victory.

In the early game on Saturday, co-captain Harry Marino ’12 threw a no-hitter, striking out 10 and walking four in the process. Harry Marino’s performance was the men’s only no-hitter in the last 17 years. “It was special to throw a no-hitter on my final start at home,” he said after the game.

While Harry Marino’s performance was nothing short of spectacular, the hitters made sure he pitched with a comfortable lead throughout the game.  In the bottom of the first, Ben Oliva ’12 singled and Mondshein doubled over the right fielder’s head to advance Oliva to third. Susk then plated both runners with a line-drive single to center field for a 2-0 lead by the end of the first. The Ephs broke out for six runs in the third inning, which included two hits by Luke Pierce ’15, an RBI double by Susk and an RBI triple by Matt Kastner ’14, yielding an 8-0 lead that Williams held onto for the next four innings. The Ephs finished with 10 hits on the day, with Pierce, Mondshein and Susk all recording multi-hit games.

In the late game on Saturday, the Ephs’ bats came alive, giving starter Thomas Murphy ’15 a comfortable lead en route to an 11-2 blowout. The men struck first when Hartwell singled to score Pierce, following his double down the left field line for a 1-0 advantage.  Although Hamilton tied it up 1-1 in the top of the fourth, the Ephs plated three unearned runs in the bottom of the innings on a walk, three Continental errors and an RBI double from Pierce to take a 4-1 lead. After a two-run fifth inning, the Ephs put the game away in the sixth when the team turned hits by Pierce, Hartwell, Oliva and Susk into three runs to extend the lead to 9-2. The men added two more runs in the eighth when Oliva tripled to plate Hartwell and subsequently scored on a wild pitch, giving Williams an 11-2 lead.

Thomas Murphy went six innings, yielding two runs on eight hits, five strikeouts and one walk. Lefty Matt Berdoff ’12 relieved Thomas Murphy, throwing three innings of no-hit baseball and striking out four Continental batters to close out the game.

“I am proud of the way we played today,” Head Coach Bill Barrale said. “It was great baseball. We executed in the field, put the ball in play and the pitching was outstanding.”

The series sweep extended the team’s winning streak to six games following weekday wins against Eastern Nazarene, RPI and Union. Casso picked up his second win of the year against Nazarene on Thursday, and Pierce led the team with two RBIs on three triples, as the men notched a 10-3 victory. The men won a tight game against RPI 6-5 last Wednesday when an RPI error on a hard-hit ball by Pierce scored Hartwell in the top of the ninth. McGovern hit his team-leading third home run of the year in the game. Against Union on April 24, Grossman earned the victory and Hartwell, Kastner, McGovern and KC Murphy each contributed multi-hit games in the 10-3 victory.

The men will play a doubleheader at Bates this weekend before traveling to Hartford, Conn., on May 11 to begin the NESCAC tournament against Trinity.