AMHERST, MA (Taken from an Amherst College press release) -- The host Amherst College baseball team rallied from an early 5-2 deficit to earn a walk-off 7-6 win over visiting Brandeis University at Memorial Field in Amherst, Mass., today. With the win, Amherst improved to 22-7 overall on the season, while the Judges fell to 24-18 on the year.
After Amherst senior Jeff Keenan (West Hartford, CT) made quick work of Brandeis in the top half of the first by sitting the Judges down in order, the Lord Jeffs jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, quickly tallying the game's first two hits in the bottom half of the frame.
With one out, first-year Taiki Kasuga (New York, NY) got the Amherst rally started with a single to center. Junior Kevin Heller (Brooklyn, NY) then drew a walk before a Mike Samela (Westport, NY) single loaded the bases. Junior Thomas Wheeler (Minnetonka, MN) would lift a sacrifice fly to left, plating the games first run, before Brandeis sophomore righthander Dylan Britton (Poughquag, N.Y./Arlington) got a much needed strikeout to avoid any further damage.
The Judges responded by pushing across a pair of the runs in the top of the second, with senior 1B Eric Rosenberg (Oakland, N.J./Indian Hills) kicking things off with a lead off walk. Junior catcher Kenny Destremps (Mashpee, Mass./Mashpee) then poked a base-hit to right to put two aboard, setting the plate for sophomore DH Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole), who promptly ripped a come-backer up the middle to put Brandeis on the board.
With two on and one out, first-year 3B Brian Ing (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) laced a double to score Ferro, but Heller fielded the ball cleanly in center, sending it in to sophomore shortstop Bob Cook who fired it home to catch the would-be go-ahead run.
Amherst got a run back in the bottom of the inning when senior Brian Merrigan (Holbrook, MA) scored from third on a passed ball, knotting the game at two, but the Judges answered with three runs in the third to take a 5-2 edge.
Brandeis put runners on first and second with two out to open the door for a big inning, with junior 2B Sean O''Hare (Southampton, Mass./Hampshire Regional) stepping to the plate. The junior responded by coming through with a two-RBI double to right center that gave the Judges a 4-2 advantage. Ing then drew a walk before first-year shortstop Dom Schwartz (San Francisco, Calif./Lowell) looped a single to left center, scoring O''Hare.
Hoping to chip away, Amherst first-year Alex Hero (New York, NY) led off the bottom of the fifth with a single to center. The New York, NY native then stole second to put himself in scoring position before Samela later snuck a double just inside the left field line to trim the margin to 5-3.
Brandeis quickly responded with a run of its own in the top of the sixth on Rosenberg''s RBI double down the leftfield line, but the Lord Jeffs would keep pace with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Espinosa drew a walk against Judge lefty reliever Alex Tynan (Barnegat, N.J./Barnegat) before Merrigan put two on with a one-out infield single to short. After Tynan induced a fly-out to right, the Jeffs needed a big two-out hit and Kasuga delivered, hammering a double to right center to drive in both Amherst runs, making it 6-5.
Trying to keep the Lord Jeffs within striking distance, first-year reliever Robert Cahill (Wellesley, MA) entered the game and retired the first six batters he faced to keep it a one run affair. Searching for the game-tying run, Espinosa reached on a hit-by-pitch to lead off the eighth before advancing to second on Hero''s sacrifice bunt down the first base line. With Amherst threatening, the Judges brought in brought in senior righthander John McGrath (New York, N.Y./Trevor Day) who recorded the last two outs of the frame on a ground out to short and a pop-up to right, holding the Jeffs at bay.
Still down one in the bottom of the ninth, Samela hoped to kick-start a Lord Jeff rally, leading things off with a single through the right side. Shaffer then drew a walk, spelling the end of McGrath's day.
Moving over from first base, senior Pat Nicholson (E. Walpole, Mass./Walpole) came off the mound to field Nolan Stewart''s (New Canaan, CT) bunt to the left side, picking off the lead runner at third. With one out, Cook singled to load the bases bringing up Merrigan. The senior hit a grounder to second, plating the tying run, but a Brandeis error on the play left everyone safe and the bases still full.
With the infield drawn in and the game on the line, Espinosa ripped a single through the right side, driving in Stewart to seal the walk-off win.
Kasuga went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBI, while Samela finished 3-for-5 with and RBI. Merrigan ended the day 2-for-4, with Espinosa, Cook and Hero each recording a hit.
Destremps led Brandeis, going 3-for-4, while Rosenberg went 2-for-3 with an RBI. O'Hare, Ing and Schwartz combined for three hits and four RBI.
Amherst junior Hayden Metz (Ridgefield, CT) who recorded two outs in the Brandeis ninth earned the win, with Nicholson taking the loss. Keenan surrendered five hits and five runs in two and a third in the start for the Lord Jeffs, while Britton went five, surrendering three runs on five hits.