WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- Williams got out to an early lead and held on to defeat a strong RPI team, 4-2, in a non-conference baseball game this afternoon. Williams got out to a 2-0 after one and led 3-2 after three. Both offenses went quiet in the middle innings, but Williams added an insurance run in the seventh and stranded several Engineers in scoring position to win. With the win, Williams moves to 11-19 on the season, while RPI falls to 21-8.
Williams started the scoring in the bottom of the first. Leadoff hitter Darren Hartwell singled on a line drive to left center. During two-hole hitter Kelso Stevens's at bat, Hartwell stole second. Stevens eventually flew out to shallow right, but three-hole hitter Phil McGovern followed with a ground ball up the middle that scored Hartwell. Left fielder Luke Pierce then grounded to RPI first baseman Chuck Erickson. Erickson fielded the ball cleanly and threw to second to retire McGovern, but Pierce beat out the throw at first to keep the Ephs' inning alive. First baseman KC Murphy then crushed a ball that bounced on the warning track in left center field, scoring Pierce standing up to give Williams a 2-0 lead.
RPI answered immediately in the top of the second, cutting the Williams lead to 2-1. First baseman Chuck Erickson led off the inning with a towering line drive that hit the center field fence just a few feet below the 400-foot marker. Erickson trotted into third with a triple, his second of the season. Two batters later, Jared Jensen singled to Williams second baseman Marco Hernandez to score Erickson. Jensen advanced to second on the play, due to a throwing error by the second baseman, but Williams starter Arnie Capute induced a pair of groundouts to get out of the inning.
Williams got its lead back to two with a run in the bottom of the second. Senior designated hitter Patrick Blizzard, fresh off his a strong starting pitching performance against Bowdoin on Sunday, led off the inning with a ground ball double down the left field line. With one out, a strike out pitch to Williams' Beau Horan got away from RPI catcher Chris Holomakoff. On the wild pitch, which bounced up the first base line, Horan was thrown out at first, but Blizzard advanced to third with two outs. Leadoff hitter Darren Hartwell then collected a two-out RBI with a ground ball to the third baseman. The speedy Hartwell easily beat out the throw to first, and Blizzard came in the back door to extend Williams' lead to 3-1.
RPI got a run back in the top of the third, but clutch pitching by Williams' Andrew Bishop prevented them from scoring more. Freshman center fielder Nick Annunziata got the Engineer offense going with a one-out single back up the middle. Annunziata then stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. A Capute fastball nicked the jersey of Jonny Rio to give RPI runners on first and third with one out. Cleanup hitter Shane Matthews hit a deep fly ball to center field. Hartwell made a running catch on the ball, but Annunziata came in to score the second run, and Rio tagged up and advanced to second. RPI's offense continued with two outs. After his second-inning triple, Williams issued an intentional walk to Erickson, but after Capute walked Andrew Kalish to load the bases, Williams head coach Bill Barrale pulled him in favor of senior reliever Andrew Bishop. Bishop, coming off a strong weekend outing against Bowdoin, kept his good form going, getting Jensen to foul out to first baseman Murphy to escape the jam and keep the game at 3-2 Williams.
Both offenses quieted down in the middle innings. RPI starting pitcher Reid Roberge settled down for a clean third. Both teams got a runner in scoring position in the fourth, but Bishop and Roberge worked out of the situations unscathed. Bishop worked a clean fifth, striking out Rio looking and Erickson swinging on a breaking ball. Roberge was pulled after four innings in favor of sophomore lefty Adam Kalish. Roberge's line on the day was 4.0 inning pitched, three runs (all earned), six hits, and three strike outs. Kalish proceeded to work a clean fifth. After 2.1 scoreless, Bishop was replaced by sophomore Eddie Kelly, who worked a clean sixth. Kalish sent Williams down in the bottom of the sixth, sending the game to the late innings with Williams leading, 3-2.
RPI threatened in the seventh, but was unable to tie the game. Nine-hole hitter Tyler Listing led off the inning with a line-drive double down the left field line. Listing advanced to third on a wild pitch during the at bat of LeSuer, and with no outs and a man on third, Williams pulled the infield in. LeSuer grounded a ball that appeared it would go up the middle, but Horan made an impressive diving play and throw to first to freeze LeSuer and get the first out of the inning. Barrale then elected to go to righty submariner Lucas Casso to face RPI's right-handed hitting two and three hitters. Casso struck out Annunzaita and got Rio to line out to right field to escape the jam and preserve Williams' one-run lead.
The Ephs made good on Casso's relief work by adding a run in the bottom of the seventh. To lead off, Blizzard singled on a line drive through the right side, becoming the first baserunner allowed by Kalish since coming in for the fifth. A Tommy Stephens grounder back to Kalish hit the pitcher in the leg, but Kalish recovered to throw Stephens out. Blizzard, however, advanced to second. Stephen Schiavone replaced Kalish for RPI. Nine-hole hitter Horan attempted a squeeze bunt attempt, but was unable to bunt a pitch thrown well above his head, and Blizzard was tagged out for the second out. Horan, with two outs, reached an a throwing error and advanced to second. Leadoff hitter Darren Hartwell got his second two-out RBI when he hit a frozen rope to the left center field gap, scoring Horan to extend Williams' lead to 4-2.
Williams closer Jimmy Ray came on for the eighth. RPI got two runners in scoring position in the eighth, but Ray used electric stuff to get out of the jam. He retired RPI in the ninth to earn the save.
Bishop (1-0) was credited with the win for the Ephs. He went 2.1 innings, giving up no runs on no hits, walking one and striking out three. Roberge (2-2) took the loss for RPI, going 4.0 innings and giving up three runs on six hits, while striking out three. Ray got his third save, striking out two in his 2.0 innings of work.
Offensively, Darren Hartwell led the way for Williams, going 3-4 with a triple, stolen base, run scored, and two RBI. KC Murphy and Patrick Blizzard each added two hits for the Ephs. For RPI, Tim LeSuer had two hits.
Barrale said of the game, "Good momentum heading into the weekend, coming off the win. We're excited about that." Barrale also praised his senior class after the game, in particular the clutch hitting of Hartwell and the relief outings of Bishop, Casso, and Ray.
Both teams return to conference action this weekend. Williams travels to Hamilton for a Saturday doubleheader starting at 1:00 PM. RPI travels to Clarkson for a Saturday doubleheader, as the Engineers look to overtake Union for the top seed in the Liberty League Tournament.