Ephs Take First Game in Wesleyan Series

Ephs Take First Game in Wesleyan Series

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams College Baseball Team took on the Wesleyan Cardinals today in a home conference game. The three-game series which runs from Friday through Saturday was previously scheduled for April 19th and 20th. With inclement weather and concern over the wellbeing of the fields, the games were postponed until May 3rd and 4th.

The game today and the double header scheduled for tomorrow are the final three games in the Eph's regular season. A 22-8 overall record and a 5-4 conference record is one of the best in recent Eph baseball history. The season began with a particularly strong spring break trip which was completed with a record of 12-2. While their conference record entering the series does not reflect the degree of success of the overall season, the outcome of this final series could go a long way in improving that.

The Wesleyan University Cardinals have not fared as well as the Ephs this season. Entering the series, they sat with an overall record slightly below 0.500 at 14-15 and an in-conference record of 4-5.  Much like Williams, they entered the series on a two-game win streak over Western Connecticut State and St. Joseph's respectively. Williams two game win streak began last Sunday when they clutched the series over Hamilton and continued on Wednesday with a victory over MCLA. Unlike Williams, this will not be Wesleyan's final series of games. They have yet to play against Trinity College. They will do so next weekend on the 4th and 5th.

While tomorrow's doubleheader is away and begins at 1:00 pm, today's play began at Cole Field at 3:30 pm. 

The 1st inning was quiet for both teams. Wesleyan began at bat and managed two hits but were unable to convert. Senior Andrew Keith singled to left center as the second batter. He was pushed to second by fellow senior Danny Rose. With two men on and an out recorded, a ground into a double play moved the game quickly into the bottom of the 1st.

Similarly, the Ephs managed two men on base but neither managed to cross home plate. Senior Tom Benz continued a recent streak of hot at bats with a single towards second base. He stole second on fellow senior Doug Schaffer's at bat, who was subsequently walked. Both men were left on base with a final fly out.

In the 2nd, the Cardinals returned to make contact twice. Junior Tanner Fulkerson singled up the middle, stole second, and advanced to third on a ground out. He was eventually caught attempting to steal home. Junior Jonny Corning also got on base with a single, but a strong defensive effort for the Ephs kept the game scoreless.

The Ephs burst on to the scoreboard in the bottom of the 2nd to take the lead. Sophomore Erik Mini began it all for the Ephs with a double to center field. Junior Mike Stamas followed up with a bunt to reach first and allow Mini time to reach third. Two quick outs followed with Stamas caught trying to steal second and a strike out. Senior Alex Panstares was walked next to reset the original position. Sophomore Eric Pappas came up big with his customary single which gave Mini time to score the first run of the game, Panstares time to reach third, and Pappas time to reach first. With the situation reset for the third time that at bat, more runs looked likely. Unfortunately, Pappas was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice which moved the game into the 3rd.

Both teams only managed one runner on base during the 3rd. The score remained 1-1 heading into the 4th where a flurry of runs was exchanged for both sides. The Cardinals, Fulkerson got on base as the second batter with a single to right center. His at bat was sandwiched between a ground out and a fly out which put the pressure on Corning's at bat. Corning managed contact which was improperly thrown to allow him two bases and push Fulkerson to third.  Another fielding error occurred on junior catcher Chase Pratt's at bat which allowed him to reach first, Corning to reach third, and Fulkerson to tie the game at 1-1. A pop up gave the Ephs the chance to retake and extend their lead. Stamas was hit by a pitch first to reach first. He advanced to second on Panstares' sacrifice bunt which put the out count at one. A ground out followed to put the out count at two for Pappas' return to the plate. Pappas delivered once again with another single to right center which brought Stamas across third and home plate. Benz continued the streak with a single through the left center which pushed Pappas to second. Senior Kellen Hatheway delivered the final contact of the inning with a shot dropped by the center fielder. The error allowed him two bases, Benz third, and Pappas home plate. Schaffer was walked next to load the bases, but all three were left on base with a final ground out. Entering the 4th the score was 3-1 in favor of Williams

Turning up the fielding and pitching efforts meant Williams and Wesleyan were kept to three batters for the entirety of the 5th and the top of the 6th. However, the Ephs returned in the bottom of the 6th to extend their lead. First year Matt Aventuro was walked as the first batter. He advanced to second two batters later on Benz's sacrifice bunt to the pitcher. Aventuro advanced to third soon after on a failed pickoff attempt which put him in a good position for Hatheway's at bat. Hatheway was walked on four balls, but during the count a wild pitch gave Aventuro time to score the Ephs' fourth run of the game. With Hatheway on first, Schaffer knocked a deep double into left field which brought this teammate home to extend the lead to four. The events sparked a pitcher change to righty senior Pat Clare who finished out the inning with no further scoring. Entering the 7th, the Ephs were up 5-1.

In the 7th and the top of the 8th, Williams and Wesleyan were able to keep each other to three batters each.  In the bottom of the 8th, the Ephs managed to extend their lead and complete the victory. Aventuro led off with a single to right field, stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error. Pappas flied out to center field which handed Williams their second out of the inning but brought in Aventuro for the final run of the game. Wesleyan was able to put a runner on second in the top of the 9th, but were unable to close the deficit. The final score of the game was 6-1 in favor of Williams College.

With the first game in the series completed, Williams looks to the final day in their regular season. Winning the final two games in the series would hand them a sweep and put them in a good position heading into the postseason. Seven innings begin at 1:00 pm at Wesleyan's field while a full nine will be played shortly after at 3:30 pm.

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