Amherst Outlasted by Trinity in NESCAC Championship
Brendan Powers had six hits, four RBIs and four runs scored on Sunday.
GAME 1 - AMHERST 10, TUFTS 6
Courtesy of Trinity College Sports Information
HARTFORD, CT – Junior Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA) had five hits, two of which home runs, to lead the Amherst College Lord Jeffs to a 10-7 win over the Tufts University Jumbos in an elimination game of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Baseball Championship Tournament this morning. With the win, Amherst earns a ticket to the finals against the unbeaten Trinity College Bantams (36-0), and needs to defeat Trinity twice to steal the title.
Powers made only one out at the plate, scoring three runs and picking up three RBIs in the high scoring affair in which nine different pitchers were used. Junior Angus Schaller (Leucadia, CA) had a home run and two doubles to go along with two RBIs and three runs and senior Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN), who was responsible for the game-winning hit in yesterday’s elimination game with Williams, reached base four times for the Lord Jeffs.
Powers’ first home run came with two out in the first inning off Jumbo starter Jason Protano to give the Lord Jeffs a 1-0 lead. Tufts came back and answered in the bottom half of the inning with solo shot from senior Steve Ragonese off Amherst senior Chris Edgar (Massapequa, NY). It was a see-saw battle of sorts, as the score was tied on three separate occasions in the first five innings (1-1, 2-2 and 3-3), until Amherst took the advantage for good in the sixth with a three-run inning.
The Lord Jeffs tacked on three more runs in the eighth and one in the ninth, and Tufts answered in both innings as they had done for much of the game, but it was not enough. While pitching on both sides was thin, the Jumbos ran out of innings, and Lord Jeff first-year Max McKenna (Lexington, MA) was able notch the save in relief for Amherst, bringing Tufts’ season to close.
Edgar went five innings, allowing three runs and striking out six to earn the win on the mound. Protano, who allowed four runs in five innings, three of which earned, gets the loss. Ragonese had three hits and three RBIs, junior Eric Catalanotti had two doubles and junior Kevin Casey scored three runs to highlight the Jumbos offense. Tufts finishes its season at 19-15. Amherst is 24-11-1 after this morning’s win.
Josh Card and the rest of the Amherst seniors make up one of the winningest classes in program history.
GAME 2 - TRINITY 11, AMHERST 8
Courtesy of Trinity College Sports Information
HARTFORD, CT – Sophomore Matt Sullivan went 3-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored, and an RBI to lead the Trinity College Bantams to an 11-8 win over the visiting Amherst College Lord Jeffs in the finals of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Baseball Championship Tournament this afternoon. Trinity improves to a 37-0, extending the nation’s best-ever Division III baseball season start, and earns its second NESCAC crown with a 3-0 record in the double-elimination tournament this weekend.
The Bantams qualify automatically for the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament. Amherst, which defeated Tufts, 10-7, this morning to reach the final game, falls to 24-12-1. Trinity last won the league title in 2003.
Amherst drew first blood with a two-run homer by senior co-captain Neal Allar (Floyds Knobs, IN) in the top of the first inning and a solo shot in the second by senior Nick Boehm (Shaker Heights, OH). Allar’s was a towering blast that wrapped around the left field fair pole, while Boehm’s came after he fought off several pitches to keep his at-bat alive.
Trinity quickly responded in the bottom half of the second, as sophomore James Wood led off with a solo homer to right field and Sullivan followed with a two-out double to right three batters later. Sullivan scored on an error, sophomore Jack Abbott hit an RBI single to tie the score, and junior Ryan Piacentini doubled home Abbott to give Trinity the lead at 4-3.
Trinity tacked on four more runs in the fourth frame and added another in the fifth, but Amherst battled back in the seventh inning with four runs to chase Trinity senior Chandler Barnard. A hit batsman and four consecutive singles—including run-scoring hits by Allar and junior Brendan Powers (Walpole, MA)—cut the Bantam lead to 9-6. Trinity lefty reliever Derek Anderson (Great Falls, Va.) came in for Barnard with the bases loaded and none out and yielded no hits but a sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice, both of which resulted in Lord Jeff runs to make the score 9-8 in the middle of the seventh.
Trinity gave itself a cushion with two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, as Sullivan knocked an RBI double and scored on a fielder’s choice by Piacentini. Anderson retired six out of the last seven Amherst batters in the eighth and ninth innings, including two on strikeouts in the ninth to record the save. Barnard earned the win despite allowing seven earned runs in six innings to improve to 9-0 for the year, while Amherst first-year starter Ryan Healy (Westport, CT) took the loss.
Five different Bantams had two hits in the game, including two doubles and three RBIs for Piacentini and a double and a homer for Wood. Allar finished 2-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs, while first-year Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) was 2-for-5 with two runs scored for the Lord Jeffs.
The Lord Jeffs’ class of 2008, which consists of Neal Allar, Nick Boehm, Josh Card, Evan Bruno and Chris Edgar, is one of just four classes in Amherst history to record at least 20 wins in four consecutive seasons, and is just four wins shy of setting a school record for wins over a four-year span. The seniors stand at 89 career victories and have helped head coach Bill Thurston bump his career win total to 795.
The final participants for the NCAA Championship Tournament will be selected Sunday night. Information regarding Amherst's status will be posted Monday morning.