Since sweeping a doubleheader against Middlebury in its first NESCAC West showcase, baseball has struggled to find consistency in both its run scoring and prevention. Last week the Cardinals took on two out-of-conference opponents, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Yale University, on opposite sides of a three game string against conference foe Williams. Wesleyan went just 1-4 in this stretch, with the lone win coming against Williams, to keep its conference record at .500. Overall, it is now 16-8 with 11 games still to play before the NESCAC Tournament.
In a road tilt against Umass Dartmouth, the Cards rallied late but were unable to complete the comeback attempt, falling 7-6. Starting pitcher Wilson Flower ’16 went scoreless through the first four innings and was given two runs of support, lining him up for what would have been his second win of the season. However, after surrendering two runs of his own, he was pulled in the top of the fifth in favor of Asher Young ’17. Young and Ryan Earle ’19 also struggled in relief, allowing the Corsairs to move on top 7-4 heading into the final frame.
To begin the ninth inning, Nick Miceli ’17 walked and was immediately sent home by Guy Davidson ’16 who had a second round tripper of the season to bring the away side within one. After a strikeout, Matt Jeye ’18 singled up the middle and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. With two outs, Andrew Keith ’19 reached when UMass Dartmouth second baseman Josh O’Neill bobbled a ground ball. However, O’Neill recovered in plenty of time to gun down Jeye, who was attempting to come home and tie the game. The tag out at the plate marked an abrupt ending to a dramatic contest.
Davidson fell one double short of the cycle on the afternoon, while leading Wesleyan with three hits and two RBI. Jordan Farber ’16 also reached base three times. Earle, who had previously been lights out in limited appearances, was charged with his first loss of the season while also surrendering his first earned run.
In front of a huge fan turnout on Friday, Wesleyan quickly fell behind Williams on Dresser Diamond in their first of three games over the weekend. Peter Rantz ’16, who has been one of coach Mark Woodworth’s most dependable pitchers, was roughed up for three runs in the second inning and another in the third as the Ephs pulled ahead 4-0. Young replaced him in the sixth inning facing a 5-1 deficit and was initially successful, allowing his side to trim the lead to three. However, he allowed two earned runs in the eighth along with two unearned, moving the score to a nearly insurmountable 9-2, where it would hold steady as the Redbird bats went down quietly.
“Some days you just come out flat, it happens,” said pitcher Mike McCaffrey ’19. “Unfortunately Friday was just one of those days.”
Rantz was tagged with his second loss of the season, but still holds a winning record at 4-2. Earle and Dylan Millhouse ’18 each went an inning of relief without allowing an earned run, but were hurt by errors. Farber and Will O’Sullivan ’17 recorded Wesleyan’s only extra-base hits with one double apiece. The rout marked the team’s first back to back losses of the season.
A 5-2 defeat to the Ephs the following afternoon extended the Cardinals’ losing streak to three. Things looked promising early on, as Farber scored Davidson on a two-run jack in the first inning while Miceli dazzled on the mound with a one-hitter through five frames. In the sixth, though, Williams forced two runs across with good small ball to tie the game. In the seventh and final frame, Marco Barratta ’16 got into scoring position for the Cards with no outs, but could not find his way home. With Miceli still on the bump, Williams shortstop Kellen Hatheway smashed a walk-off homer to left, plating three runs and ending the game.
McCaffrey was not shy in identifying shortcomings that may have contributed to these losses.
“[In the] first game we didn’t match their intensity,” he said. “[In] the second game we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities they gave us.”
Wesleyan’s bats finally found themselves in the night cap, leading the charge for a 13-6 victory. Hatheway hit his second three-run homer in as many innings to give his side an early 4-1 lead against Wesleyan starter Ethan Rode ’17. Davidson controlled the remainder of the competition, collecting an outstanding four extra base hits and walking once on his way to two runs and three RBI. The Cardinal lead steadily increased throughout the game until Millhouse put the game away in the ninth.
With the win, Rode’s record on the season improves to 4-1. After the week, Davidson sits atop the NESCAC leaderboard in hits, runs, at bats, doubles, and triples, while slotting in second in RBI to Barratta, third in slugging percentage, fourth in batting average, and sixth in home runs. Given these figures, Davidson appears to be a top contender for All-NESCAC honors at season’s end.
However, nobody on the Wesleyan side looked like an All-NESCAC talent at Yale on Wednesday night. Flower was tagged in the first inning, giving up seven runs and forcing just two outs before being pulled in favor of Stephen Howard ’18. In his first pitching performance of the season, Howard was a rare bright spot on a disappointing day for Wesleyan, throwing 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. Of the Wesleyan pitchers, Flower, Howard, Doug Hartshorn ’19, Millhouse, Young, Earle, and Barratta, only Howard and Earle made it through their outing unscathed. Meanwhile, the Cardinals could muster only two unearned runs against the tough DI competition for a 15-2 loss.
This weekend the team will play a three game set at Hamilton, who sit at the bottom of the NESCAC West. Action will kick off at 4 p.m. on Friday, and will resume with a doubleheader the following day. Wesleyan looks to improve on its third place standing and 3-3 conference record.