Amherst Goes 1-1 in Day One of NESCAC Championship to Stay Alive; Jeffs End Williams' Season in Dramatic Fashion
In his final game with Williams, senior co-captain Neal Allar came through when it mattered most.
GAME ONE – TRINITY 9, AMHERST 1
Courtesy of Trinity College Sports Information
HARTFORD, CT – Senior right-hander Tim Kiely struck out nine without a walk and allowed eight hits and one run over eight innings while junior Ryan Piacentini went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, as the Trinity College Bantams downed the visiting Amherst College Lord Jeffs, 9-1, in the opening round of the NESCAC Baseball Championship Tournament this afternoon. Trinity improves to 35-0, extending the nation’s best-ever Division III baseball season start and tying the College record for wins. The Lord Jeffs fall to 22-11-1 and will play Williams College in the second round of the losers’ bracket.
Trinity took a 5-0 lead after the first two innings, as sophomore James Wood delivered a two-out RBI single in the first frame and Piacentini highlighted a four-run second with a three-run shot high over the left field fence. The Bantams added two more runs in the fifth inning on a Lord Jeff error and a pinch-hit RBI single by senior Chandler Barnard with two outs, and two more in the seventh inning on a solo homer by junior tri-captain C Sean Killeen and a sacrifice fly by senior Tom DiBenedetto.
Kiely improves to 9-0, while Amherst first-year starter Pat Harris (Rochester, NY) drops to 3-1 although five of the seven runs he allowed over 4.2 innings were unearned due to four Amherst fielding miscues. Harris pitched extremely well and consistently frustrated Trinity hitters, but a weak defensive effort increased his pitch count and led to the early exit.
Wood had two hits for Trinity, while first-year Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) and senior Nick Boehm (Shaker Heights, OH) each had a pair of singles for the Lord Jeffs. Amherst junior Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) hit an RBI single in the eighth frame to account for the only run for the visitors.
GAME TWO - AMHERST 9, WILLIAMS 8 (10 INNINGS)
MIDDLETOWN, CT - Amherst College senior co-captain Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) drove the first pitch he saw from Williams reliever Zach Stone to deep center field, scoring first-year Jose Espinosa (Ridgefield, Ct) with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning as the Lord Jeffs walked off with a 9-8 victory in an elimination game of the NESCAC Baseball Championship Saturday afternoon.
The Ephs had dropped a 1-0 decision to Tufts earlier in the day, while Amherst fell to Trinity, 9-1. Williams finished its season at 24-12 while the Jeffs improved to 23-11-1 and will play Tufts in another elimination game Sunday at 9 a.m. at Trinity.
Amherst rallied from an 8-4 deficit against the Ephs, scoring four unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game before winning it in the 10th. Espinosa triggered the winning rally when he was hit by a Tom Coleman pitch with one out. He then stole second with two outs and a 2-0 pitch on junior Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA). The Ephs then decided to intentionally walk Powers.
Williams head coach Bill Barrale brought in Stone, a left-hander, to face Allar, the Amherst clean-up hitter. Allar drove Stone's first pitch deep to straightaway center field over the head of center fielder Max Pinto to score the game-winner. He was credited with a double.
That rally made a winner of Amherst reliever Ryan Healy (Westport, CT). The Lord Jeff first-year tossed three perfect innings of relief, setting Williams down in order in the eighth, ninth and 10th. He did not allow a hit or a walk and struck out one. Coleman took the loss, allowing one hit over 2.2 innings. He walked two and struck out one.
Williams took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first as James DiCosmo and Taylor Mikell greeted Amherst starter Jeff Keenan (West Hartford, Ct) with singles and Pinto followed with a laser to right-field that cleared the fence for a three-run home run.
Amherst battled back with two in the second and two in the third off Eph ace Dan Benz. Senior Evan Bruno (Williamsburg, VA) smacked an RBI-double in the second that scored Nat Pedley (Rye, NY), who had singled. Mike Neff (New York, NY) scored Bruno with a two-out single to right.
In the third, Bruno lined a two-run double to left-center field that gave the Jeffs a 4-3 lead.
Williams responded in the sixth, scoring four times to take a 7-4 lead. A catcher's interference call with two outs allowed Stone to score the tying run, and sophomore Al Mathews came through with a line-drive single to right that plated DiCosmo, who had singled, and Pinto, who was intentionally walked. Chad Brown then grounded a single up the middle to score Robin Allemand, who had reached on the catcher's interference.
Williams tacked on another run in the seventh when Barrett Allison singled, stole second, and raced home ahead of a throw from shortstop on a grounder hit by DiCosmo.
Amherst rallied off Eph first-year Tom Hester in the eighth. Bruno drew a lead-off walk and senior pinch-hitter Nick Boehm (Shaker Heights, OH) beat out a slow roller to second on a bang-bang play at first. Neff lined a single to left to load the bases.
Coleman replaced Hester on the hill for Williams. Amherst first-year Scott Shaffer (Boulder, CO) greeted him with a hard one-hopper to the left side that Eph third baseman Allison made a nice diving stop on, but his throw home was wide, allowing two runs to score. Espinosa then hit a topper down the first-base line that Coleman fielded cleanly and tagged him out on. Seeing Neff streaking for the plate, Coleman whirled and threw the ball wide past catcher Chad Brown and out of play, allowing Neff and Shaffer to score and tie the game at eight.
Amherst had the momentum from then on, setting up Allar's clutch hit in the 10th. Even the Ephs' speedy Max Pinto in center field couldn't catch up to Allar's blast, as the Williams outfielders were forced to play in with the winning run on second base. When the ball dropped deep in the outfield, the Amherst bench stormed the field to swarm Allar and congratulate him for coming through in the clutch in his last meeting with archrival Williams.
The teams combined for 25 hits and 17 runs, eight of which were unearned. Bruno had two doubles, two runs, and three RBIs to lead the Lord Jeffs’ offensive attack, while Max Pinto hit a homerun, collected 3 RBIs and scored two runs for the Ephs.
Amherst and the Tufts University Jumbos, who both lost to the Trinity College Bantams today, will go head-to-head in a playoff match for the rights to a rematch with the Bantams. The game will be played at Campus Field on the Trinity College campus at 9 a.m. Sunday morning. The winner will play Trinity at noon and will need to beat the undefeated Bantams (36-0) twice to earn the NESCAC title.