April 17, 2012

O'Hare homers twice in return, but Amherst rallies for 13-6 win

WALTHAM, Mass. – The visiting Amherst College baseball team scored five runs with two outs in the sixth inning and the Lord Jeffs never looked back as they defeated the host Brandeis University Judges, 13-6, on Stein Diamond. Brandeis falls to 6-27 with the loss, while Amherst improves to 18-5 with their eighth-straight win and 11th in the last 12 games.

Amherst scored twice in the top of the first on back-to-back home runs by sophomore SS Taiki Katsuga (New City, N.Y./Don Bosco Prep) and senior DH Kevin Heller (Brooklyn, N.Y./Poly Prep CDS). It was the first homer of the season for both players.

Brandeis bounced right back in the bottom of the frame when senior 2B Sean O'Hare (Southampton, Mass./Hampshire Regional), playing for the first time since March 17, blasted a two-run shot to left-center field. Two innings later, O'Hare struck again, hitting an 0-1 offering out to left that gave the Judges a 3-2 lead. With his first collegiate two-homer game, O'Hare now has a career-high three blasts for the season and eight for his career.

The Judges added another run in the inning when grad student DH Pat Nicholson (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) singled with one away. Pinch runner Joe Galli (Wakefield, Mass./Wakefield Memorial) scored two batters later after a Pat Seaward (York, Maine/York) double and a suicide squeeze bunt by classmate Zach Malis (Merrick, N.Y./Bellmore JFK).

Brandeis pushed the lead to 5-2 in the fourth on a two-out RBI double by senior catcher Kenny Destremps (Mashpee, Mass./Mashpee). Amherst senior Hayden Metz (Ridgefield, Conn./Ridgefield) came on to retire O'Hare and five of the next six hitters he faced, setting the stage for the visitor's rally.

After Brandeis starter Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./St. Peter-Marian) retited the first two Lord Jeffs in the sixth inning, the next seven Amherst players reached base, with five of them scoring. The big blow was a bases-clearing double by senior CF John Wagner (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) in his first plate appearance of the day that turned a 5-3 deficit into a 6-5 lead. Wagner scored on a Kasuga single, and the visitors ended the sixth with a 7-5 edge.

Amherst went on to score in each of their final three at-bats as well against a trio of Brandeis relievers. They tacked on three unearned runs in the seventh, plated two more on a home run to left-center in the eighth by senior RF Mike Samela (Westport, Conn./Staples) and one more in the ninth on Kasuga's fourth RBI of the day. Brandeis's final run had come in the seventh on another hit by Destremps, giving him a team-leading 15 on the season.

There were nine multiple hitters between the two teams, with Amherst's Kasuga (4-6, 4 RBI, HR) leading the way. The top three hitters in the Brandeis lineup all went 3-5, led by O'Hare's two homers and three RBI. Rookie RF Zach Bardwell (North Andover, Mass./Central Catholic) scored three runs.

Brenner suffered the loss for the Judges, allowing nine hits and seven runs over 5.2 innings. He struck out four and walked four. Metz tossed three innings of effective relief for the Lord Jeffs, allowing three hits and one earned run to get his first win in six decisions. Two other Amherst relievers retired seven of the nine hitters they faced to hold the Judges at bay.

Brandeis returns to action tomorrow at Keene State College at 3:30 p.m. Amherst heads to Middlebury for a NESCAC West showdown Friday at 4 p.m.

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