The Cardinal baseball squad continued its NESCAC dominance with a three-game sweep over Little Three rival Amherst this past weekend. The wins ensured Wes would be crowned Little Three champions, the team’s third such title in as many seasons.
Wesleyan’s starting pitchers were the key to the victory, silencing the Amherst offense. In addition to dominating Amherst, the Cardinals also swept their other Little Three rival, Williams, earlier this season. With a 6-0 record against its two biggest foes, the 2015 Cardinal team went undefeated against the Lord Jeffs and Ephs for the first time since 1983. As a result of its 9-0 record in NESCAC West play, Wesleyan will be the top seed in this weekend’s conference tournament in Nashua, N.H.
One week ago at Dresser Diamond, Sam Goodwin-Boyd ’15 launched his fourth home run of the year, and Guy Davidson ’16 smacked a pair of doubles as Wesleyan led Amherst 10-0 after seven innings. Cardinal senior starter Nick Cooney ’15 allowed only two hits over seven innings while striking out eight batters. Wes won the game with ease, 10-5.
In the first game of the doubleheader at Amherst, Gavin Pittore ’16 took the mound for the Cardinals. Conceding no runs, he helped Wesleyan edge out a 1-0 victory over the Lord Jeffs. He allowed just three hits in a seven-inning complete game, striking out six Amherst batters. In the fourth inning of the contest, Ben Hoynes ’15 plated Captain Donnie Cimino ’15 with a sacrifice squeeze bunt, scoring the only run of the game for the Birds.
In an interview with The Argus, Hoynes talked about what has made the Cardinals successful so far this year, and what they must do to continue their winning ways.
“We have to continue to bring focus and energy to every game, every inning, and every pitch,” Hoynes said. “If we do that, I am confident we have the right group of guys—both because of the talent and team chemistry—to succeed in the NESCAC and NCAA Tournaments.”
In the second game, Sammy Elias ’15 pitched nine shutout innings for the Cardinals. Named NESCAC and ECAC Div. III Pitcher of the Week a week ago, Elias doubled down on both honors this week as well. In his nine innings of work, he conceded only three hits and picked up three strikeouts. With his lights-out performance on the mound, Elias improved his record this season to a perfect 6-0. At the plate, Wesleyan scored the only two runs it would need in the first inning. Cimino and Davidson reached base via a pair of singles before an RBI single by Jon Dennett ’15 and a sacrifice fly, again by Hoynes, scored the second run. The final was 2-0 in favor of the Cards.
Hoynes described what has been crucial to the Cardinals domination in NESCAC play.
“Pitching, defense, and timely hitting: that’s been the name of our game this season, and it’s been key to our success in the NESCAC,” Hoynes said. “Our pitching has been really unbelievable, and when you combine that with consistent, solid defense, and some clutch hits, that’s a recipe for success. Our ability to focus every pitch and maintain a sense of urgency throughout all 25 innings of every NESCAC series has been vital.”
In total, over the weekend, Wesleyan starters pitched a combined 23 innings, allowing only eight hits, while racking up 17 strikeouts and giving up only six walks.
As the season nears its end, Hoynes reflected upon his senior campaign thus far.
“My senior season has been great so far,” Hoynes stated. “This is probably the most close-knit group of guys I’ve ever played with, so the chance to go out there every day and play alongside my best friends is really a blessing. I’m happy with how things have gone so far but we have a long road ahead of us to achieve our goal of winning a national championship, so the season is far from over.”
After the weekend, Wesleyan took on MIT this past Tuesday, April 28. The Cardinals trailed 0-5 after two innings and were never able to get back on track. Although they made it a game in the late innings with the help of three unearned runs, a double play ended the game with a runner stranded at second base. The Cardinals fell by a final score of 5-8.
Wes will play a makeup series with Hamilton this weekend at Dresser Diamond, but the outcome will have no impact on its seeding in the NESCAC tournament. Hoynes has high expectations for the team.
“Our goal is to sweep Hamilton and finish the regular season 12-0 in the NESCAC,” Hoynes stated. “Then we want to beat Trinity on Sunday. It’s not always the best team that wins the conference tournament, but the hottest, so going into the NESCAC playoffs with momentum is huge and we want to start that this weekend.”