MIDDLETOWN, CT – The Williams College Baseball team traveled to Wesleyan University today for the final two games in their regular season. After a dominant 6-1 victory yesterday, the Ephs were looking to complete the sweep today to end this portion of their season off on a strong note.
Inclement weather has plagued the series between the two NESCAC Schools. A series of storms originally moved the entirety of the series two weeks back to May 3rd and 4th. Yesterday, another brief period of showers forced the game to start thirty minutes earlier and still included a dousing during the 8th inning. A cloudy but clear day with temps in the mid 50s and low 60s was a fortuitous environment to complete the final two games.
The Ephs entered today's action on a three-game win streak which began last Sunday against Hamilton, continued on Wednesday against MCLA, and was most recently added to against Wesleyan. Their record sits at an impressive 22-8 overall and 6-4 in conference. The Cardinals on the other hand had their two-game win streak snapped yesterday in the loss to Williams. They sat with a 16-16 overall and 4-6 in conference.
Both games were away, the first began at 1:00 pm and ran seven innings. The second began at 3:30 pm and ran the full nine.
The Ephs began at bat for the first game. Only sophomore Eric Pappas was able to make contact with a fly out to right field. Three batters and three outs moved the game quickly into the bottom of the 1st.
Wesleyan jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the 1st in what would be a low scoring game. Senior Andrew Keith singled through the right side as the second batter. Fellow Senior Danny rose stepped to the plate with one out recorded and Keith on first. He knocked a bomb into left center which allowed him to reach second and brought Keith across home plate for a 1-0 lead. First year Wes Fritch managed to keep the ball rolling next with a rolling grounder which put him out at first but allowed Rose to reach third. The promising base position did not amount to any more when a final strike out moved the game into the 2nd inning.
For the following three innings, Wesleyan and Williams put on a collective defensive clinic to keep the game to a single run. During Wesleyan's at bats in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th innings, Williams was able to the Cardinals to three batters. Despite the success, Wesleyan retained the lead at 1-1. Williams made a few pushes for runs during their three at bats. In the top of the second, first year David Driscoll singled to center field to get on base. Sophomore Erik Mini pushed him to second with a single of his own through the right side. Unfortunately, Driscoll went on to get caught stealing at third and a ground out left Mini on base for the batting change. Likewise, in the top of the 3rd and top of the 4th, Pappas and senior Doug Schaffer managed a base on a single and an error by the short stop, respectively. The chances never amounted to anything and game remained at 1-0 heading into the 5th.
In the top of the 5th, first year Matt Aventuro was the only Eph one to get on base when he was walked. Wesleyan, on the other hand, added to their lead to effectively put the game out of reach. Junior Jake Alonzo was walked on a four-ball pitch count. Junior Jonny Corning singled to right field to push his teammate to second. Two outs posted with two men on, set the stage for junior Alex Cappitelli's turn at the plate. He followed suit with a single deep into left field which gave Alonzo time to score and Corning time to reach second. Both runners did not advance any further, but heading into the final two innings the score was now further in the Cardinal's favor at 2-0.
Another period of calm returned to the game in the 6th. Aside from Wesleyan first year Wes Fritch's double up the middle, no substantive contact occurred.
In the 7th, the Ephs made a final push to avoid the loss but were unable to crack the scoreboard. Driscoll connected again on a single to center field. He was replaced by first year Ryan Young as a pinch runner. Junior Mike Stamas managed a single through the left side which pushed Young to second. On senior Alex Panstares' fly out Young advanced further to third. Likewise, Stamas advanced to second on a wild pitch during a teammate's at bat. Unfortunately, even with a man on second and third, a final ground out ended the game with Wesleyan taking the victory.
The 2-0 defeat meant Williams and Wesleyan were tied heading into the second portion of the double header. A victory for either team would mean an overall win for the series.
Williams began at bat again for the second game. Aside from senior Kellen Hatheway's walk, no Ephs managed to get on base and the game moved quickly into the bottom of the 1st. In the bottom of the 1st, Wesleyan started off strong but were kept from scoring any runs. Cappitelli led off with a single to left field. He was put out at second on Keith's reach on a fielder's choice. Rose was walked next which pushed Keith to second. Keith attempted to advance to third but was caught stealing by the catcher to hand Wesleyan their second out. Fritch delivered again with a single to left center which allowed Rose to reach third, but neither crossed home plate when a ground out followed.
In the top of the 2nd, the Ephs cracked the scoreboard and took the lead for the first time that day. Driscoll continued a strong string of plate appearances with a double to left center. The contact sparked a pitcher change to first year righty Coleton Reitan. Stamas was walked next and Driscoll managed to reach third on a wild pitch during Panstares' at bat. Panstares went on to bunt which allowed him to reach first, Stamas to advance to second, and Driscoll to cross home plate. A ground into a double play ended the at bat with two remaining on base but put Williams up 1-0.
To keep the momentum going, Williams kept Wesleyan to three batters in the bottom of the 2nd and returned in the 3rd with two hits. Pappas led off with another single to left center. He was caught stealing second to give the Ephs their first out of the at bat, but senior Tom Benz followed up with a single towards third base to reset the situation. Schaffer was walked later and pushed Benz to second, but the runs dried up there.
The Cardinals attempted a comeback in the bottom of the 3rd and completed in the 4th. In the third, Keith reached on a fielder's choice and was pushed to second by Rose's single through the left side. A ground out on Fritch's turn at the plate moved the game into the 4th where Wesleyan kept the Ephs to a single. In the bottom of the 4th, first year Jamie Mills connected and reached first on the pitcher's throwing error. He advanced to third on Alonzo's bunt. First year Adam Geibel was next up at the plate. He managed contact, but ground into a double play which put him out at first, Alonzo out at second, and allowed Mills to tie the game. With the bases cleared, junior catcher Chase Pratt was walked. Corning followed up with a home run on a fastball down the middle which scored another two runs for the Cardinals. Cappilletti was hit by a pitch to get on base next, pushed to second by Keith's single, but both did not advance further with the inning ending. Moving into the 5th, Wesleyan had taken the lead at 3-1.
The 5th and 6th innings were quiet affairs for both teams. Geibel and Hatheway each managed singles for the Cardinals and Ephs respectively, but no scoring opportunities occurred. Wesleyan even managed a runner on third in the bottom of the 5th on a throwing error, but the Ephs cleaned up their pitching and fielding to maintain the score.
In the top of the 7th, the Ephs fired back to cut the deficit to one. Panstares got on base first with a ground rule double to left center. He advanced to third on Aventuro's subsequent ground out. Pappas returned to the plate and remained consistent with a shot out to right field which brought Panstares across home plate. With the score at 3-2, the Ephs managed to keep Wesleyan to a walk moving into the 8th.
In the top of the 8th, the Ephs continued their comeback with the tying run. Hatheway started off with a single through the left side. The hit sparked another pitcher change, this time to the righty Alonzo. Schaffer stepped to the plate next and reached first on a fielder's choice. Mini was walked two batters later to put a runner on first and second. Stamas came back around with two outs recorded and knocked a single into center field. While he and Mini only moved a base, the contact allowed enough time for Schaffer to reach home plate and tie the game. The game continued through the bottom of the 8th without any change in score. Williams was once again able to keep Wesleyan to a single runner on first.
In the final inning, the Ephs completed their run to take the game and the series. First year Billy Shea stepped in as the pinch hitter for Aventuro. He doubled down the right field line and was replaced by sophomore Philip Barnett as the pinch runner. Pappas delivered contact next with a bunt which put him out at first but allowed Barnett to advance two bases to third. Benz flied out as the following batter to put the pressure on. Hatheway stepped to the plate with Barnett in a good position to score. He came up huge with a home run over the center field fence which brought in the final two runs of the game. The Ephs closed the game out with one more solid defensive effort which featured two strike outs and a ground out.
With the final series under their belt, the Ephs have officially completed the entirety of their regular season. A grueling schedule which included thirty-two games, with two week day games most weeks, and a three game series most weekends, has left Williams Baseball with a 23-9 overall record and 7-5 in conference.
Williams won the NESCAC Western Division title for the sixth time overall and the first time since the 2010 season. It will be the Ephs first appearance in the NESCAC Tournament since the 2012 season. They have won the NESCAC Tournament twice, in 2007 and 2001.
2019 NESCAC Baseball Championship
Day 1: Friday, May 10
Game 1: 2:30 p.m. Williams (West #1) vs. Bates (East #2)
Game 2: 6:00 p.m. Tufts (East #1) vs. Middlebury (West #2)
Day 2: Saturday, May 11
Game 3: 10:30 a.m. Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2
Game 4: 2:00 p.m. Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2
Game 5: 45 minutes Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4
after Game 4
Day 3: Sunday, May 12
Game 6: 10:30 a.m. Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5
Game 7: If necessary, Game 7 will be played 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 6 with the same two teams