After Friday’s game was suspended due to rain, the baseball team took on Williams in a doubleheader on Saturday. The series was moved from Williamstown to Middletown as a result of poor field conditions. Wesleyan captured both contests, and the victories marked a nine-game winning streak against the team’s Little Three counterparts.
“We’ve definitely started the season strongly,” said pitcher Asher Young ’17. “We faced a lot of really good competition in Arizona and got to see where we stacked up, and I think we feel like we can compete with anyone at this point. We’ve done a good job of staying even-keeled so far and not getting too up or down based on any one game.”
The team was finally able to return to Dresser Diamond after waiting for the snow on Andrus Field to melt.
“Playing back home has been unbelievable—especially given all of the work we’ve put in to get the field ready to play,” Young said. “We had guys working on the field in some capacity just about every day, so it’s rewarding to be able to get out there. Playing on Dresser Diamond is always great, and we take pride in having probably the best home atmosphere in the league. Our support is generally pretty strong during games, and playing in the middle of campus is definitely one of the coolest parts about Wesleyan baseball.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Cardinals defeated the Ephs by a score of 14-2. The game was close until the top of the fifth inning when Wesleyan scored two runs to push its lead to 4-1. Wesleyan batted first because it was designated as the road team in the series prior to the relocation.
The Redbirds scored five more runs in the seventh inning, and four more in the eighth. Captain Donnie Cimino ’15 led the way for the Cardinals on offense, picking up 4 of the 19 hits for the Redbirds. Cimino, Wesleyan’s all-time leader in hits, had a single, two doubles, and a triple. Pushing his career total to 200, Cimino knocked in one run and scored five more. Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15 and Ellis Schaefer ’17 both recorded three RBIs for the Cardinals. Wesleyan starter Nick Cooney ’15 made another valiant effort for the team on the mound. Cooney dominated through eight frames, allowing nine hits and a walk in addition to racking up nine strikeouts as he continues his march toward Wesleyan’s all-time punch out record.
“Every game is important for us, but obviously the NESCAC games hold a little more weight near the conference tournament,” Young said. “We don’t really treat them too differently just because we always try to maintain a level of day-to-day focus. The game at hand is always the most important to us.”
In the second game of the day, Wesleyan scratched out a 4-1 victory. Cardinal starter Gavin Pittore ’16 threw a complete game, logging nine Ks and allowing just three hits and one unearned run. Wesleyan opened the scoring early, plating two runs in the first inning as a result of two Eph errors. Nick Miceli ’17 led off the next inning with a double for the Cardinals before eventually scoring on an RBI groundout. Williams’s only run of the day came when an Eph batter reached base via an error and then advanced on a fly ball out and groundout to score.
In the final game of the series on Sunday, Williams was the team to touch home plate first. Trailing 2-0 in the second inning, Wes evened the game before taking the lead in the fifth with two more runs. However, the Ephs would go on to score three more runs in the seventh inning before the Cardinals answered with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the frame.
Miceli drove home Jonathan Dennett ’15 and Robby Harbison ’17 with a two-run double to right. The Cardinals added an additional run in the eighth when Andrew Yin ’15 scored on an RBI base knock by Will O’Sullivan ’17, which proved to be the deciding run in the game. Wesleyan starter Sammy Elias ’15 went seven innings for the Cardinals, picking up eight strikeouts in the contest. The senior hurler improved his record to 3-0 to begin the year. Goodwin-Boyd recorded the two-inning save for the Birds. The game ended when right fielder Ben Hoynes ’15 threw out an Eph trying to advance to third base on a single. Dennett paced the Cardinals on offense, going 3-3 at the plate on the day, driving in two runs, and scoring each time he himself reached base.
“It’s always exciting to sweep a weekend series, but it does feel a little sweeter when it’s against Williams,” Young said. “The Little Three rivalry is definitely present, and it gives us a little something extra to play for. We had so many good performances this weekend, including some awesome contributions from players off the bench, so it really was a team effort.”
The Cardinals play next on Wednesday, April 8, against Western Connecticut on Dresser Diamond. Wes is 5-1-1 all-time against the Colonials, having exacted revenge with a 3-0 shutout in 2014 following an 11-8 defeat two seasons ago.