WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Recently ranked the 51st greatest sports rivalry of all time, according to website "The Bleacher Report"(See the article here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1128435-the-100-most-heated-rivalries-in-sports), the Williams-Amherst matchup surely lived up to that expectation this afternoon.
In the bottom of the second, junior Taylor Mondshein swatted a triple down the left field line to start the inning off of sophomore Fred Shepard who started on the mound for the Lord Jeffs. Sophomore Marco Hernandez then completed a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Mondshein for a 1-0 lead.
Due to great pitching from both senior Harry Marino and Shepard, the game didn't have much scoring until freshman Brendon Hardin roped a solo home run over the right centerfield wall to knot the score 1-1, in the top of the fifth. Marino had given up only one hit before the home run, by none other than Brendon Hardin who smacked a double in the top of the second. Sophomore Taiki Kasuga executed a perfect sacrifice fly to deep right field to bring in the freshman Tyler Jacobs who reached on base hit single up the middle to make it 2-1.
The determined Ephs responded in the bottom half of the inning when sophomore Matt Kastner ripped a 2-out triple down the right field line to score junior Darren Hartwell and senior Stephen Maier both of whom reached on consecutive "Hit-By-Pitches" to make the score 3-2.
Junior third baseman Nolan Stewart scored on a passed ball to bring Amherst up 4-3 in the top of the sixth inning.
The top of the seventh inning was highlighted with stellar defense from third baseman Mondshein when he flashed the leather as Amherst senior catcher Thomas Wheeler slugged a grounder down the third-base line. The sure-to-be double was snagged when Mondshein made a great diving play, followed by a strong throw to first to stop the Lord Jeffs offensive attack. Later, freshman catcher Phil McGovern rifled a bullet to second base to catch Amherst's Heller on a stolen base attempt. McGovern has been solid all year behind the plate.
Senior catcher Mike Samela led off the eighth inning with a hard hit down the third baseline, and junior Bob Cook executed a bunt to advance him to second in the next at-bat. Then, Stewart rapped a shot up the middle bringing home Samela. The throw home helped Stewart to advance to second. Harry Marino would exit the game for the Ephs after tossing 7 1/3 innings allowing 9 hits for 6 runs (4 earned) and 6 strikeouts. He was charged with the loss. Senior Ben Oliva entered in relief for the next two outs but gave up another Brendon Hardin hit for an RBI single in the top of the eighth to give the Lord Jeffs a 6-4 lead. Hardin finished the day 4 for 4 with 3 RBI a home run, double, and two singles.
In the bottom of the eighth, senior Cameron Susk lead off with hard hit single over the shortstop. Mondshein followed suit with an infield single between the third baseman and shortstop. HE finished the day 3 for 3 with an impressive single, double, and triple. Sophomore Marco Hernandez advanced both runners to score position to no avail as Lord Jeff sophomore reliever Cam Windham ended the inning with a clutch strike out followed by a groundout. "We are still stranding too many runners on base." Head Coach Bill Barrale remarked after the loss. "The opportunity is there, the talent is there too, but we are just coming up short. They're great players and a great team with good chemistry, but we are just coming up short, it's a cruel game." Windham got the close throwing 2 innings and gave up no runs adding a strikeout. Shepard went 7 innings allowing 4 runs (4 earned) on 8 hits, adding 2 strikeouts.
In the top of the ninth, senior reliever Dan Grossman threw a quick three out inning paving the way for a possible comeback by the Ephs. Freshman catcher Phil McGovern led off the bottom of the ninth with an infield single.
But there were no late-game heroics tonight as the Lord Jeffs took the first game of their 2012 series with the Williams College Ephs, 6-4. Marino (1-2) was charged with the loss and Shepard (4-0), the win.
The Ephs (5-11, 1-3 NESCAC) travel to Amherst (12-5, 4-0 NESCAC) tomorrow for a double header. The first game (7 innings) will begin at 1PM and the second (full 9 innings) will follow shortly thereafter.