Baseball tops NESCAC West with series win over Wesleyan

Alex Okinaka

Baseball (23–9, 7–5 in the NESCAC) traveled to Wesleyan on Saturday for the final two games of its regular season. After a dominant 6-1 victory over the Cardinals at Cole Field on Friday, the Ephs split the doubleheader to secure their first NESCAC West Division title since 2010.

In the first game of the day, Wesleyan jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first inning. Outfielder Andrew Keith singled through the right side before fellow outfielder Danny Rose knocked a bomb into left center. The double by Rose brought Keith across home plate for a 1-0 Cardinals lead. 

For the next three innings, the Cardinals and the Ephs put on a defensive clinic to keep the game to a single run. In the top of the second, David Driscoll ’22 reached second base, but was caught stealing at third. Chances for the Ephs in the third and fourth never amounted to anything, and the game remained at 1-0 heading into the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, Wesleyan added to its lead. Infielder Jake Alonzo was walked on four pitches, and Jonny Corning singled to right field to push his teammate to second. With two outs and two men on base, outfielder Alex Cappitelli hit a single deep into left field which gave Alonzo time to score and extended the Wesleyan lead to 2-0.

In the seventh, the Ephs made a final push to close the deficit but were unable to crack the scoreboard. Driscoll connected again on a single to center field, and Mike Stamas ’20 managed a single through the left side. After a wild pitch, the Ephs advanced their runners to second and third. A groundout ended the game with Wesleyan taking the victory. 

The 2-0 defeat meant that the Ephs needed a win to clinch the NESCAC West Division in the second game of the doubleheader. 

After a scoreless first, the men cracked the scoreboard in the second inning of the second game. Driscoll continued a string of productive plate appearances with a double to left center. The contact sparked a pitching change for Cardinals, who inserted right-hander Coleton Reitan. Stamas walked next and Driscoll managed to reach third on a wild pitch. Alex Panstares ’19 then bunted, advancing Stamas to second and scoring Driscoll to give the men the 1-0 lead. 

The Cardinals then came back and took the lead in the fourth when outfielder Jamie Mills reached first on a throwing error. Mills then advanced to third on a bunt by Alonzo. After Mills scored on a groundout, catcher Chase Pratt walked, and Corning followed with a two-run home run to put Wesleyan up 3-1.

In the top of the seventh, the Ephs cut the deficit to one run. Panstares reached base with a ground rule double to left center and advanced to third on a groundout. Eric Pappas ’21 then returned to the plate and singled to right field, which brought Panstares across home plate and narrowed the Wesleyan advantage to 3-2.

In the top of the eighth, the Ephs continued their comeback and evened the score. Kellen Hatheway ’19 started the inning off with a single through the left side. Erik Mini ’21 walked two batters later to put runners on first and second. Finally, Stamas came to the plate with two outs and knocked a single into center field, driving in a run and tying the game. 

After holding the Cardinals scoreless once again, the Ephs completed their comeback to take the game, the series and the West Division crown. Pinch hitter Billy Shea ’22 doubled down the right field line before Pappas sacrifice bunted to advance the runner to third. After the Cardinals recorded a second out, Hatheway stepped to the plate and crushed a home run over the center field fence to take a 5-3 lead.  

Kyle Dean ’20, who also earned the win for the Ephs, then closed the game out with two strikeouts and a groundout in the bottom of the ninth.

The Ephs will advance to their first appearance in the NESCAC tournament since 2012. The men – seeded first in the West Division – will play Bates on May 10 in Waterville, Me.