The baseball team finished up its regular season last weekend and will head into the NESCAC Tournament as the number-two seed from the West. Though the team did not end its regular season on a high note, its players have shown more than enough growth to carry them toward another NESCAC title.
The team first traveled to Williamstown on Saturday, April 28 and played two tough games to open up their final stretch of regular-season NESCAC games. The Cards were favored against the Williams Ephs, who were tied for last place, but this was not obvious as both games went to the last inning with the possibility of either team coming out on top.
Mike McCaffrey ’19 earned his second win of the season from the mound, pitching six innings until Ryan Earle ’19 came in for the bottom of the seventh to shut out the Ephs and record his third save of the season.
Offensively, the Cards jumped onto the scoreboard in the first inning with an RBI single from Matt Jeye ’18 and an RBI groundout from Tanner Fulkerson ’20. A sacrifice fly from the Ephs in the third inning reduced the Cardinals’ lead to 2-1, and the Red and Black went on to score a run a piece in the next three innings. The Ephs then scored two more to make it 5-3 heading into the seventh. The Cards were unable to keep their streak going, leaving two men on base and giving Williams the chance at a comeback. The Ephs loaded the bases with no outs, and two RBI singles tied the score at 5-5 until a 5-4-3 double play got the Cards out of the jam.
Jake Alonzo ’20 started off the eighth with a triple, and Kevin Walek ’20 was walked in the next at-bat to put the go-ahead runner on base with no outs. Alex Cappitelli brought his fellow sophomores home with a blast to right field, giving the Cards a 7-5 lead. Earle allowed one hit in the bottom of the eighth before striking out the Ephs’ final batter, giving Wes their first victory of the weekend.
Later that afternoon the Cards again came out ahead, with a five-run second inning marked by two two-run doubles from sophomores Andrew Kauf and Capitelli in addition to a one-run double from Danny Rose ’19. Their lead was extended to 6-0 with an RBI groundout from Earle in the fourth, and the Ephs’ lineup finally started to wake up in the fifth inning, with an RBI single putting the team on the board for the first time. The Cardinals scored twice more in the sixth inning, giving them a comfortable 8-1 lead heading into the seventh.
The Ephs walked up to the plate in the seventh to prove that seven runs were not enough to guarantee victory, and they almost succeeded. With five runs off four hits and one error, the Ephs came within two runs before Earle caught another Williams batter swinging, and the Cardinals flew home to Middletown with another tally in the win column.
Sunday, April 29 was senior day at the Dresser Diamond, and the Cardinals made sure to send their seniors out in style. Freshman Kelvin Sosa pitched his first career complete game, recording seven strikeouts, only two walks, and completely shutting out the Ephs.
The Cards’ offense was also able to quickly break down the Ephs pitching, adding to their decisive victory. The team tallied nine runs heading into the ninth, when Sosa took down the last three batters. After a ground out, the third baseman recorded the final out of the game, and the Cards stormed the field to celebrate Sosa’s victory, showing the kind of support he says was integral in helping him to reach this milestone.
“It was like a dream come true to me,” he said. “I got to pitch in front of my parents for the first time at the collegiate level, and the team completely supported my efforts by providing excellent defense that game…. I had three clutch double plays, which saved my pitch count.”
With this victory, the team also clinched their spot to play in the NESCAC Tournament.
The team went into the week with non-conference games against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Western Connecticut State University. Though the team was hoping to continue the same domination they showed against Williams, they were not so lucky. The team fell to MIT 5-2 on Tuesday afternoon and then 8-7 against Western Connecticut on Wednesday.
The Red and Black ended their regular season this past Saturday with a doubleheader against the Trinity Bantams.
In the first game, the Bantams came out on top and went up 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth. The Cards started to chip away at their lead in the fifth, eventually taking a 6-5 led with an RBI single from Rose in the top of the seventh. Alonzo came in as the closer, striking out the first batter he saw and forcing the next two out on a pop-up and ground-out, respectively, to end the game.
The next game was similarly close, though this time the Bantams did just enough to claim victory. The Cards scored first, taking a 2-0 lead heading into the fifth, before a three-run effort from the Bantams put them ahead. The teams continued to go back and forth and were tied heading into the eighth. The Cards scored two more in the top of the eighth, but the Bantams responded with three runs of their own to take a 7-6 lead and the game.
Though the team’s regular season ended with a disappointing loss to Trinity, they still have a long run in the postseason to look forward to. Sosa is excited for the challenges that lie ahead of him and his team as they head into the tournament, and he is confident that they will find success.
“Competition levels are rising, and the pressure is building up.” Sosa said. “It’s a scary but exciting time for a lot of us. We need to play with hustle, confidence, and make plays without hesitation in order to be successful in the playoffs. No one stands a chance if we play our best baseball this weekend.”
Earle echoed a similar sentiment, describing what the team will need to do in order to find success.
“We will need to be aggressive,” he said. “There are going to be a lot of big moments next weekend, and it will be really exciting to see how the guys respond to it. I am very confident we will attack these big moments and have a lot of fun with it all.”
The tournament begins this Friday at Trinity College, as the Red and Black face-off against the Tufts Jumbos in pursuit of their third NESCAC title.
Rose Griffin can be reached at email@example.com.