Baseball drops series to conference rival Wesleyan

Photo courtesy of Sports Information Marco Hernandez ’14 went 3-3 with two RBIs in the men’s 7-2 loss to Wesleyan on Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Sports Information
Marco Hernandez ’14 went 3-3 with two RBIs in the men’s 7-2 loss to Wesleyan on Saturday.

Baseball (7-10, 4-5 in the NESCAC) opened its season over spring break, returning from a trip to Arizona with a 6-5 record that included a series sweep of conference rival Middlebury. The men faced a tough team in Wesleyan last weekend, dropping three straight games and scoring just five runs against the current leader of the NESCAC West.

Wesleyan hosted the first game of the series with tri-captain Steve Marino ’14 on the mound. Williams got on the board in the second with a leadoff walk from Marco Hernandez ’14. Hernandez stole second before Nathan Michalski ’17 singled with two outs. Michalski scored Hernandez and advanced to second on an errant throw from the Wesleyan second baseman. Both teams were quiet on the basepaths until the seventh inning, with the only action coming off a single from Jack Roberts ’17 in the fourth and a single from Kelso Stevens ’15 in the fifth. The Ephs had a good chance to score in the seventh, following another leadoff walk from Hernandez. Thomas Stephens ’14 bunted Hernandez to second, and Jack Cloud ’17 hit a single to advance Hernandez. However, Hernandez was thrown out trying to go from second to home, and the Ephs were retired for the inning after Michalski struck out.

After six solid innings, Wesleyan finally got to Marino in the bottom of the seventh. Following a pair of singles, the Cardinals bunted to put men on second and third with one out. A fielding error scored a run and put men on the corners before Cardinal Robby Harbison drilled a double, scoring two teammates. Wesleyan left the inning with a 3-1 lead and added another run off Eddie Kelly ’15 in the eighth, eventually taking the first game of the series 4-1.

Williams hosted the second and third games of the series on Saturday, with Thomas Murphy ’15 taking the mound in Game Two. Wesleyan scored five men in the top of the third, recording five hits in the inning. Williams got one back after Luke Pierce ’15 was hit by a pitch and doubled in by Hernandez. Wesleyan added two more in the top of the sixth, and despite another RBI for Hernandez in the sixth, Wesleyan closed out a 7-2 victory. Murphy went five and two-thirds innings, striking out three and giving up six earned runs.

Saturday’s rubber match saw Luke Rodino ’17 take the ball for the Ephs. Wesleyan scored one run in the second, but Williams came right back after Cloud ripped a leadoff double down the left-field line. A groundout from Stephens advanced Cloud to third, and Michalski brought him home on a groundball. The Cardinals got to Rodino in the third, notching four hits and three runs to take a 4-1 edge. Wesleyan scored again in the fifth, this time taking two runs on three hits off Kelly. Daniel Smith ’16 came on in the seventh with a 6-1 deficit, and Wesleyan tagged him for three more runs after he recorded just one out. Arnie Capute ’16 relieved him, giving up two runs over two and two-thirds innings. The Ephs entered the ninth down 12-1, but they got one run back. Cloud led off the inning with a walk, and Michalski sent him home on a double to left. However, the Ephs could not come back, and the Cardinals took the final match 12-2 and the series 3-0.

Over the break, the men were 7-7, playing most of their games in Tuscon, Ariz. Williams played a tough Amherst team tightly at the end of spring break, playing at Amherst for the series. Amherst took the first game 16-6, but Williams nabbed the second 7-3. In the third game, the Jeffs outlasted the Ephs, taking a 5-2 victory. On March 31, the men faced Arizona Christian for a doubleheader, losing 6-4 and 4-2.  On March 28 and 29, Williams took a big three-game sweep of Middlebury. The offense exploded for 42 runs over the series, giving the Ephs their first three conference victories. On March 26, the men fell to Oberlin in a high-scoring game 19-11 loss. The day before, on March 25, Williams traded wins with Concordia, losing 4-3 after taking the first game 13-11. On March 24, the men beat Valley City State 15-9 after going 1-1 against Hamline to open their season on March 23, losing 14-7 after a 19-14 opening win.

“We were extremely happy with our Arizona trip,” tri-captain Charlie Baxter ’14 said. “Our bats came alive against Middlebury and our young players stepped up into some big roles.”

Baseball currently holds a 7-10 record and is in third place in the NESCAC West, with Wesleyan on top and Amherst in second. The men will next play at MCLA this afternoon at 4 p.m., followed by a 4 p.m. matchup at RPI on Thursday. On Saturday, the team is slated for two games at Bowdoin, starting at 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Next Tuesday, the men will play RPI at 4 p.m.

“We had a successful Arizona trip that culminated in an important sweep of Middlebury,” Marino said. “We have struggled a bit up north but we know our best baseball is still ahead of us.”