Baseball Gets 3rd Walk-Off Squeeze Bunt Win of the Year for 4-3 NESCAC Tourney Win over Bates

Executing its third walk-off squeeze bunt of the season to defeat a NESCAC rival, Wesleyan got a bases-loaded, one-out squeeze bunt from Will O'Sullivan '17 (#18, photo insert upper right) to bring home Donnie Cimino '15, who was hit by a pitch with one out in the bottom of the 9th and the scored deadlocked at 3-3. That gave Wesleyan, the top seed in the NESCAC West, a 4-3 victory over Bates, the second seed from the East, in a first-round conference playoff game at Babson College Fri., May 9.  As a result, Wesleyan advances to the winner's bracket meeting with Tufts Sat., May 10 at 10:30 a.m. while Bates takes on Amherst in an elimination game at Bentley University Saturday at 10:30.  The winner of the Bates-Amherst game takes on the loser of the Wesleyan-Tufts game in another elimination game Saturday afternoon.  The NESCAC championship game is slated for Sun., May 11.

After Cimino was hit by a pitch in the 9th, Sam Goodwin-Boyd '15 followed with a walk.  Guy Davidson '16 was then hit by a pitch, putting him on base for the third time in the contest, loading up the bases.  O'Sullivan, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning with the purpose of putting down a sacrifice bunt but popped up foul to the catcher, swung and missed at the first pitch, then bunted the second pitch back toward the mound and the throw home was too late to prevent Cimino from scoring the winning run.  Earlier this year, Wesleyan defeated both Middlebury and Amherst on a similar bunt play.

Wesleyan held a 2-0 lead heading into the 7th inning before Bates scored three runs with just one hit after a costly throwing error by Wesleyan starting pitcher Nick Cooney '15 on a bunt with runners at first and second with no outs following a pair of walks.  Cooney fielded the bunt and had a play for an out at third base, but threw wildly allowing a pair of runs to score.  The batter ended up at second on the play and then scored on a line single to left by the first Bates batter to face reliever Jimmy Hill '14. That spotted the Bobcats their first lead of the contest.

Wesleyan came back to tie in the bottom of the 8th on a sacrifice fly to left field by Ben Hoynes '15, scoring Davidson, who had walked, moved to second on the third single of the day by Jon Dennett '15 (#12, main photo), and found his way to third on a ground ball that should have resulted in an out at second base, but the shortstop could not get a handle on the ball in his glove and the bases were loaded with one out. Hoynes sent a mid-level fly to left and the throw home was on target but just a second late to get Davidson as he score the tying run.

Wesleyan got its 2-0 lead with single runs in both the 2nd and 5th innings as Ellis Schaefer '17 knocked in the first run with a single between third and shortstop, plating Davidson, who had walked and advanced to second on a Dennett safety. The second Cardinal run was scored by Nick Miceli '17, who had a one-out single and scored on a line single to left by Sam Goodwin-Boyd '15.  An error by Bates in the frame made the run unearned.

Both starting pitchers enjoyed strong outings as Cooney went 6.0 innings, yielding just one hit and one earned run with seven strikeouts and four walks.  He also hit three batters.  Bobcat ace senior Brad Reynolds made his second-longest appearance of the season in 11 starts, going 7.1 innings with seven hits allowed and just one earned run.  Sam Elias '15 got the win in relief for Wesleyan, logging the final eight outs while giving up two hits and no runs.

Dennett was the only player in the game with more than one hit as Wesleyan collected seven in the game while Bates had four.  Hoynes had the defensive play of the game for the Cardinals as he caught a hard liner by Bates that would have cleared the right-field fence in the 6th inning for a homer, but Hoynes caught the ball above his head just before banging into the outfield wall for the out.