WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Williams walked off with a dramatic 10-9 win over Hamilton in the teams' NESCAC West finale this afternoon at Bobby Coombs Field. With the win, Williams moves to 11-15 (7-5 NESCAC West), while Hamilton falls to 9-15 (2-10 NESCAC West).
The Ephs led 7-0 after three innings, but Hamilton stormed back and led 9-7 heading into the bottom of the eighth. Williams, however, tacked a run back in the bottom of the eighth and got a pair of two-out runs in the ninth to win the nailbiter. Jack Roberts had the game-tying single, and David Webster had the game-winning RBI.
The pitching matchup rematched the front end of last Sunday's doubleheader. Junior righty Thomas Murphy of Williams started against junior righty JJay Lane of Hamilton.
In the top of the first, Hamilton loaded the bases with a single and two uncharacteristic walks from Murphy. The Eph starter, however, struck out Andrew Haser looking to escape the jam and send Williams to the dugout with momentum.
The Ephs cashed in to take a 2-0 first inning lead. Leadoff man Matt Kastner crushed a triple to right center field. Luke Pierce followed by chopping a grounder to first to drive Kastner in for the Ephs' first run. Williams got another extra-base hit on a Thomas Stephens double that one-hopped the wall in right field. Stephens eventually came around to score the Ephs' second run on a Marco Hernandez sacrifice fly.
Williams padded its lead with five runs in the home half of the third. Kastner again got the offense going, this time with a single to right. He stole second, and Pierce reached on an error to put runners on first and third. Stephens then brought in Kastner with another double. Right fielder Jack Cloud promptly stroked a single to left center that plated Pierce and Stephens. Hernandez then singled sharply to center to drive Lane from the game. Against reliever Colin Henneberger, Hamilton's second error of the inning allowed Cloud to score, and a Kelso Stevens double brought in Phil McGovern. After three, the Ephs led 7-0.
Henneberger, however, settled down to allow Hamilton to recover. He would work through the end of the eighth and allowed only one run. From the fourth to the seventh, he did not allow a runner past first.
Hamilton's offense capitalized on his outing to get back in the game. It got things going against Murphy in the fifth, cutting the Ephs' lead to 7-3 on a Michael Chiseri ground out, a Ryan Wolfsberg sacrifice fly, and a Stephen LaRochelle single. The Continentals' got their fourth in the sixth on a bases-loaded bunt single by Kenneth Collins.
In the eighth, a five-run inning gave the Continentals a 9-7 lead. Williams reliever Jacob Slater, who came on during the sixth to strand the bases loaded and cruised through the seventh, got the first two outs of the eighth easily. He then struck out Nick Taylor for what should have been the last out of the inning, but the ball got away from Hernandez, and Stephens could not handle his throw down to first. The Continentals capitalized. A single by Kenneth Collins and an intentional walk of Wolfsberg loaded the bases. Hamilton sophomore Tim Burke then tied the game with a three-RBI double to deep left. The Continentals picked up two more to drive Slater from the game. Eph senior Charlie Baxter came on to strike out Zach Becker to end the inning, but Hamilton had taken a 9-7 lead.
The Ephs, however, did not stop fighting. They tacked one run back in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Jack Roberts led off the inning with a sharp one-hop single up the middle, and David Webter bunted him to second. Kastner was then retired for the second out, so with two outs and the man in scoring position, Pierce came to the plate. He wasted no time getting the job done, taking the first pitch he saw from Henneberger to deep left to score Roberts easily with a double.
Williams now trailed 9-8, and Steve Marino came on to throw a 1-2-3 ninth. The stage was set for a dramatic bottom half.
Hamilton brought on 6'6" righty Ryan Crawford, who entered with two saves on the year. At first, it seemed like the junior would earn his third with ease. He got Nate Michalski to ground out and Hernandez to pop out. With two outs, however, the Ephs rallied. McGovern blooped a single into right field and was run for by Jackson Parese. An infield single by Stevens put a second man aboard. Roberts then came through with a ground-ball single up the middle to score Parese and tie the game.
Thus, with two outs, the scored tied at 9, and men on first and second, junior David Webster strode to the plate with a chance to win it for the Ephs. Webster worked a gritty at-bat. He took a Crawford fastball up and in, then fouled a ball straight back to the backstop. On 1-1, he waved at a curveball in the dirt. Crawford elected to stick with his breaking ball on 1-2, but the ball got away from catcher Brett Mele to put the winning run on third. On 2-2, Webster barely fouled off another curveball to stay alive, then took Crawford's fourth breaking ball in a row to run the count to 3-2. With the full count, Webster grounded a ball to third and hustled down the line. Hamilton's third baseman ranged to his right, fielded the ball cleanly, and double-clutched before throwing on to first. Webster was safe by a step, and Williams walked off with a dramatic win.
Marino (3-2) got the win, while Crawford (0-2) was saddled with the loss and a blown save. Offensively, Eph seniors Stephens (3-5, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI) and Kastner (2-4, 3B, 2 R) had big days. Cloud, McGovern, Stevens, and Roberts also had multihit games. For the Continentals, Kenneth Collins went 3-4 and scored a pair of runs.
Williams head coach Bill Barrale was clearly pleased with his team's ninth-inning comeback: "We battled in the ninth inning, had a couple good at-bats. … It was a game we needed to win."
Both teams return to action tomorrow, May 2. Williams hosts Springfield for a 1:00 doubleheader, and Hamilton travels to SUNYIT.