Cards Outscore Albertus, 38-1, in Double-Header to Cross 20-Win Barrier, Then Get NESCAC Tourney Bid
Playing a double-header on the road against Albertus Magnus Fri., April 16, Wesleyan banged out 34 hits in 71 at-bats for a .479 team batting mark during the twin-bill as the Cardinals decimated the Falcons, 12-0 and 26-1 in five innings. With the wins, Wesleyan pushed past the 20-win mark, standing 21-7 on the season.
After an 18-16 loss to Eastern Conn. Wed., April 21, and a pair of disappointing NESCAC West losses at Williams Sat., April 24, 11-4 and 8-6, Wesleyan found itself as the #2 seed in the NESCAC West and ready for its second straight playoff appearance.
Julian Sonnenfeld '11 (#12, photo insert upper right) and Alex Meadow '12 (#7, photo insert upper left) were the Cardinals most successful players at the plate vs. Albertus as each went 6-for-10 over the two games, scoring five runs apiece. Sonnenfeld drove in six while Meadow had five RBI. Sonnenfeld had one of the team's three home runs during a nine-run 6th inning in the opener, his eighth four-bagger of the season. He also stroked his 21st double of the season, adding to his school record total. He paces the team with a .415 average. Right behind with a .398 mark is Meadow.
Brice Kelly '10 had a tremendous second game, going 3-for-5 with six RBI as he leads the Cardinals with 44 runs batted in. He broke the Wesleyan career record for RBI of 115 as he now has 121. The Wesleyan single-season record for RBI is 49. Sonnenfeld is second on the squad with 40 RBI this year.
Wesleyan's two starting pitchers in the double-header vs. Albertus, Mike Barsotti '12 (#22, photo insert lower right) and Brett Yarusi '12 (#26, photo insert lower left) had little trouble controlling the Falcon bats. The only Albertus run in the second game was unearned due to a throwing error on a fielder's choice and a bases-loaded walk by Yarusi. He allowed just two hits in his four innings on the mound with three strikeouts and a walk. Barsotti, with eight strikeouts over his six innings of action, now has 65 on the season, just 14 shy of the Cardinal record. He was touched for five hits and no runs and was honored by the NESCAC as its Pitcher of the Week for his efforts. Joe Giaimo '11, who played all but one inning at first base during the twin-bill, tossed the final inning of game one, striking out the side. He had one of the three homers in the contest. Ryan Coffey '11 had the other.
Wesleyan hoped to be back on the road for its next action, heading to M.I.T. for a double-header Sun., April 18, but the games were cancelled due to a scheduling conflict at M.I.T. As a result, Wesleyan's next outing came Wed., April 21 at home against Eastern Connecticut. Eastern, ranked fourth regionally, scored the final six runs of the contest to erase a 16-12 deficit and pull out an 18-16 win, its 15th straight over Wesleyan since 1994.
Wesleyan trailed throughout the game and by as much as 10-3 heading into the bottom of the 4th. Wesleyan then used a 10-run output in the 5th to secure its 16-12 edge, Wesleyan sent 14 men to the plate, producing eight hits. The Cardinals took the lead for the first time in the game on Chris Bonti's '13 RBI infield single. Three more runs scored when Kyle Weiss '12 walked with the bases loaded and Sonnenfeld smacked a two-run single to right, making it 16-12. Sonnenfeld led Wesleyan with his 4-for-5 effort along with three RBI and two runs. Both Kelly and Coffey added three hits for the Cardinals as they accounted for 10 of Wesleyan's 18 safeties.
Eastern scored its final four runs in the 8th inning with two outs to recapture the lead. Wesleyan threatened again in the bottom of the 8th with a leadoff single by Sonnefeld and a walk to Meadow. A sacrifice bunt move the two into scoring position but Eastern got out of trouble with a strikeout and a great running catch in shallow left field on a bloop by pinch-hitter Barsotti.
Wesleyan and Williams began a showdown for the NESCAC West title on Sat., April 24 with a double-header in Williamstown. Each stood 7-2 in conference play so the team to win two out of three in the series would clinch first place in the division. The Ephs did just that. The series was to conclude in Middletown, Sunday, April 25 at which time Wesleyan's baseball field was to be formally dedicated as Dresser Diamond, in honor of former Wesleyan Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Dresser '63, who also played baseball at the college. However, both the game and the ceremony were postponed until Sat., May 1 when both will be held. The game May 1 also is slated for a webcast with a link to watch the event on the athletics home page under "Webcasts."
In winning both game April 24, the Ephs recovered from a 4-1 shortfall in the first inning of the opener by scoring 10 unanswered runs to take the 11-4 win. Meadow, Kelly and Giaimo each picked up a 1st-inning Cardinal RBI.
In the second game, Wesleyan held a 6-5 advantage heading into the bottom of the 8th. The Cards trailed 5-1 but tied the contest with four runs in the 6th before taking the lead with a run in the 7th. Bonti delivered the key blast in the 6th, a two-run triple. Though he did not get an RBI on the play, Kelly got the go-ahead run across in the 7th, grounding into a double-play. Williams pushed across three in the bottom of the 8th, then forced the Cardinals to strand a pair of base runners in the 9th to preserve the win.
Owning the tie-breaker against both Amherst and Middlebury by virtue of a 2-1 victory margin vs. each this season, Wesleyan only needed the Panthers and Lord Jeffs to lose a fifth game in conference play in order to clinch a playoff spot. Middlebury was beaten by Hamilton April 24 for its fifth league loss, then knocked off Amherst April 30 to knock the Lord Jeffs from playoff contention. Wesleyan will face host Tufts in a first-round tournament game Fri., May 7. Before that, it'll be Williams at home Sat., May 1, followed by a double-header at home with Trinity Sun., May 2 to end the regular season.