Baseball bashes its way to series-opening win over Amherst

Ethan Wallis '21 (Josh McKee photo)
Ethan Wallis '21 (Josh McKee photo)

Hamilton College banged out 15 hits, including six for extra bases, and the Continentals blasted their way to an 18-10 NESCAC West Division win against the Amherst College Mammoths at a breezy Loop Road Baseball/Softball Complex on Friday.

Hamilton (12-9, 4-3 NESCAC West) scored five runs in the fourth inning and put a half-dozen on the board in the fifth and seventh innings. The Continentals were helped by seven Amherst errors that led to seven unearned runs. The teams play a doubleheader at Hamilton on Saturday, April 13 with the first pitch of Game 1 scheduled for noon.

Ethan Wallis '21 finished a home run short of the cycle and had three hits in all plus three runs batted in for the Continentals. Wallis has a .397 batting average with a .500 on-base percentage and .630 slugging percentage.

Ten Hamilton players had two or more at-bats and nine of them collected at least one hit. Matt Zaffino '21 went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI. Rich Marooney '21 singled, doubled and drove in three, and Jordan Northrup '19 ended up with two hits. James Nish '19 blasted his second career home run with the Continentals, Graham McOsker '20 singled, walked twice and scored three times, and Joe Suski '21 drove in a pair of runs and scored three more even though he didn't have a hit.

Starting pitcher Gavin Schaefer-Hood '21 (5-1) picked up his NESCAC-leading fifth win after he allowed four earned runs on four hits and five walks in five innings. Schaefer-Hood only gave up one run on two hits through the first four innings.

Joseph Palmo paced the Mammoths' offense with a double, single and three runs batted in. Daniel Qin and Kai Terada-Herzer registered two hits apiece and Qin plated two runs. Nick Nardone went 1-for-2 with two walks, and reliever Jack Harlan (0-2) took the loss after facing the first four batters in the bottom of the fifth.

Amherst (12-8, 3-4) roared back with five runs in the top of the fifth and tied the score at 6-6, but Hamilton responded with six runs in the bottom of the inning and led the rest of the way. Zaffino led off with a walk, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a double down the right-field line by Craig Sandford '19.

After a pitching change, the Continentals seemed to fluster the Mammoths by bunting in three consecutive at-bats. McOsker laid down the first one and Northrup was safe at home after the toss by the pitcher was dropped by the catcher. Sandford scored on Suski's bunt back to the pitcher, but Suski was safe at first after the first baseman dropped the throw. Marooney's bunt was laid down perfectly past the mound on the right side of the infield for a base hit as McOsker scored and Suski went to third after the second baseman threw wildly to first. Suski made it 11-6 when he scored on a wild pitch, and Marooney scampered home from second base on Wallis' double to left.

Amherst climbed back to within 12-9 on a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh including a home run off the bat of Chase Henley that cleared the scoreboard in left field. Hamilton countered with six runs in the bottom of the inning and all but clinched the victory. Wallis' one-out triple to the wall in left center drove in two runs and Wallis trotted home on another triple by Brady Slinger '22. The Mammoths made a pitching change and Zaffino greeted the new hurler with a ringing single to right that drove in Slinger. Northrup plated Zaffino with another base hit and Suski drew a walk with the bases loaded for an 18-9 cushion.

The Continentals broke a 1-1 tie with five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Zaffino led off with a single to left and Nish followed with a towering blast over the 375-foot sign in right field. Marooney's two-run double to left center was the other big hit in the inning and gave Hamilton a 6-1 advantage.