March 28, 2013

MIT Downs Amherst, 6-2

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – In its first home game of the season, the MIT baseball team overcame a shaky start to the contest to take a 6-2 win over Amherst. ­­­­Senior Aric Dama (Winfield, Ill.) settled down after a first inning that saw the Engineers commit three errors and pick up the win by holding the Lord Jeffs to four hits and one earned run in 7.1 innings of work.

The three errors in the first came on the first three Amherst (8-4) hitters, with leadoff batter Alex Hero eventually coming around to score on the third miscue. With two on and no outs, Dama, who committed two of the errors, bounced back to get a strikeout and a double play to get out of the jam.

Amherst also was shaky in the field in the bottom half of the inning, making two errors that helped MIT scored three times. An error and two singles put the first three aboard for sophomore Hayden Cornwell (Newport Beach, Calif.). His comebacker to the pitcher was misplayed, with Amherst starter Fred Shepard kicking the ball back past home to allow the first run to score. Senior Ricardo Perez (Vienna, Va.) brought home the second run with a fielder's choice before sophomore K.J. Parent (Knoxville, Tenn.) knocked in the third with a single.

Dama and Shepard then seemed to hit their strides as they combined to allow just four hits over the next three innings before MIT extended its lead with a run in the fifth. Sophomore Eben Bitonte (Wichita, Kan.) led off with a walk, stole second and then moved to third on a balk. With one away junior Creed Mangrum (Sandy, Utah) lofted a fly to left and Bitonte just beat the throw home to make it 4-1.

Amherst tried to rally in the eighth when Mike Odenwaelder led off with a walk, moved to second on a wild pitch and then to third on a single to left from Louis Hunt. The Lord Jeffs then pulled off a double steal, with Odenwaelder beating the throw to the plate to make it 4-2. Taiki Kasuga then drew a walk that ended Dama's day and brought senior Henry Zhu (Overland Park, Kan.) in from the bullpen. He did his job, shutting down the rally by striking out the next two hitters looking.

MIT then responded with two runs to ice the game. Cornwell led off with a single and then came all the way around to score when senior Ricardo Perez's (Vienna, Va.) single to center got away from the Amherst center fielder. Perez, who took second on the throw home, was sacrificed to third and then scored on sophomore Parker Tew's (Chapel Hill, N.C.) single down the first base line.

Zhu finished things off on the mound, giving up just a single in the ninth as he earned his fourth save of the season. Dama struck out six in his 7.1 innings as he improved to 3-0 on the season. Shepard gave up just four hits and struck out seven in six innings for Amherst, but picked up the loss to fall to 1-1.

Cornwell was the only hitter to record two hits in the contest, finishing 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run. Kasuga was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks for Amherst.

MIT will play again tomorrow when it travels to Endicott College for a 3:30 p.m. game. Amherst will also play tomorrow, hosting Brandies University at 3:30 p.m.