Baseball Clinches NESCAC Playoff Spot with Series Win at Hamilton - Adds Win vs. CGA Before Battle with Amherst for Top Seed
Robby Harbison '17 (#34, right side photo) led a 15-hit Cardinal attack by going 4-for-5 with a pair of home runs, one a two-run shot in the 4th along with a solo job in the 5th, and an RBI double in the 7th as the Cardinals began their three-game NESCAC West series at Hamilton Fri., April 18 with a 10-4 victory. Splitting a double-header Sat., April 19 with a 7-1 victory in the first game before seeing their 12-game winning streak this season ended in a 5-3 setback in the nightcap, the Cardinals secured a spot in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament. Wesleyan is 8-1 in league action and will be joined by Little Three rival Amherst as playoff picks from the West. The two will vie for the top seed when they conclude conference action in their series starting in Amherst Fri., April 25 with a single game, and ending with a double-header in Middletown Sat., April 26. The team that wins the series will be the top seed in the West. All three games will be webcast. Before that series starts, the Cardinals added a 3-0 home win vs. Coast Guard Tues., April 22.
While Harbison was a one-man wrecking crew for the squad at the plate in the first contest at Hamilton, Nick Cooney '15 was doing his usual fine job on the mnound, ging eight innings while allowing just two hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts. Only two of the four runs he surrendered were earned. Sam Goodwin-Boyd '15 (#9, left side photo by Rick Dennett '77, P'15), who began the game at first base and went 2-for-5 with a pair of runs, one of six Cardinals with a multi-hit affair, tossed the final inning and put the Continentals down one-two-three. Also lashing a pair of safeties in the game were Andrew Yin '15, Guy Davidson '16 and Nick Miceli '17. Jon Dennett '15 was another standout at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. He smacked his second homer of the year, a solo effort in the 7th. Both of Davidson's hit were doubles, upping his team-leading figure to 12.
Wesleyan took the lead for good in the 4th, erasing a 1-0 deficit, as Harbison launched his first home run to right to make ot 2-1. Dennett and Yin added RBI singles to finish off the inning's scoring. With the score 5-4, Wesleyan got three more in the 7th and two more in the 9th for the final score.
Behind the pitching of Jeff Blout '14 and the big bat of Goodwin-Boyd, Wesleyan got off to a quick start with a 3-0 lead in the top of the 1st as Goodwin-Boyd launched a three-run homer. He finished the game with two hits and four RBI. Cimino and Harbison also had two safeties in the seven-inning outing with Harbison driving in a run in the 3rd. Eric Jones '16 put down a squeeze bunt for a run in the 4th. RBI by Goodwin-Boyd and Davidson in the 5th closed out the scoring. Blout allowed just five infield singles and one earned run in upping his seasonal record to 5-0.
Wesleyan carried a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the 5th in game two as Gavin Pittore '16 yielded just two hits over four innings. But a pair of Wesleyan errors, combined with two more Hamilton hits, pushed across three unearned runs and the Cardinals never recovered. Harbison was good for a run-scoring single in the 4th while a fielder's choice ground ball by Ellis Schaefer '17 in the 5th brought home Jones, who had doubled. With his hit, Harbison advanced his current hitting streak to eight games. The Continentals added single runs in the 6th and 8th. Wesleyan picked up a run in th 9th on a Goodwin-Boyd single and had two men on when the final out was recorded. Wesleyan is now 38-7 all-time vs. Hamilton and won its 14th consecutive NESCAC West series against the Continentals.
Over the three Hamilton games, Harbison went 7-for-14 with six RBI and four runs. Goodwin-Boyd was 6-for-14 with three runs and five RBI.
Against Coast Guard, four Wesleyan pitchers combined for a three-hit shutout as Wesleyan defeated Coast Guard for the 18th time in the last 19 meetings after Coast Guard ended a 17-game skid vs. Wesleyan last year with an 8-4 decision. Wesleyan holds a commanding 82-25 edge in the long-standing series that dates back to 1935.
Wesleyan forged singles runs in three of the opening four innings before the final five innings were scoreless for both squads. Peter Rantz '16 threw the first three innings , allowing three hits, while Chris Law '14, Jimmy Hill '14 and Goodwin-Boyd did not allow a hit over the final six innings. Law went two innings, Hill 3.1 and Goodwin-Boyd got the last two outs for a save. Rantz got the win as he was only slated to throw three innings by design.
Wesleyan got two RBI from Cimino , the first on a double in the 1st inning and the second on a sacrifice fly in the 3rd. Wesleyan got its third run via a sacrifice fly as well, that from Schaefer in the 4th. Schaefer had two of the Cardinals seven hits in the contest, both doubles, as he scored the winning run in the 1st inning. Five of the Cardinals' seven safeties were doubles.