Darby (5-0) is backed by 15-hit attack as they win sixth in row, 7-2
AMHERST, Mass. - Senior lefty Tom Darby (Middletown, RI) pitched into the eighth inning for the first time in his career and the middle of the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball lineup combined for 11 hits as the Warriors won their sixth straight, 7-2,over Amherst College Wednesday afternoon.
At right: Tom Darby
The loss will be the only one of the regular season at home for Amherst (23-8), which had a 15-game regular-season home winning streak snapped. Eastern (28-9) equaled its longest winning streak of the season and has captured 12 of its last 15. The Warriors are ranked No. 21 in Division III and sixth in New England, Amherst No. 29 nationally and No. 7 in New England. Eastern is now 5-2 against teams ranked in this week's New England Coaches' Poll and improved to 18-5 away from home this year.
Eastern collected 15 hits off five Amherst pitchers in support of Darby's fifth win this year without a loss. Darby, who has averaged 6+ innings in five starts, defeated his fourth straight regionally-ranked opponent by allowing only eight hits and one run with four strikeouts and two walks. In his previous three starts, Darby defeated No. 1 Wheaton, No. 3 Trinity and No. 8 Bridgewater State.
Senior Steve Cammuso (Rutland, MA), and sophomores Danny O'Connell (Braintree, MA), and Mike Vaccarelli (Wolcott) each had three hits for Eastern. Cammuso drove in two runs as did sophomore T.J. Larivee (Salem, MA), who had two hits and scored twice. Cammuso hit safely in his 17th straight game to push his batting average over .300 to .301.
Eastern Connecticut loaded the bases in the second but would not get on the board until pushing three runs across in the third, as they strung together five singles in a span of six batters. Dylan Driscoll '14 retired the Warriors in order in the fourth, but they got back to work when Larivee ignited a one-out rally with a double that led to two more runs and a 5-0 ECSU lead.
After Larivee's second RBI of the day made it a 6-0 game in the top of the sixth, the Jeffs came up inches short of their first run when Cammuso reached over the fence in left field to rob Kevin Heller '12 of a homer. Heller hit the ball hard enough to clear the fence for what would have broken Amherst's career home run record (18), but Cammuso braced himself on the fence with his right hand and made the impressive catch with his left.
Cammuso then led off the seventh with a single up the middle and came around to score the Warriors' seventh run on a groundout. Amherst chased Darby from the game in the eighth after three consecutive singles were followed by a walk, with Cook putting the Jeffs on the board by lacing a base hit back up the middle.
With the bases still loaded in the eighth, sophomore Pat Barnett (Windsor) got Eastern out of the jam by picking up a strikeout before an Amherst runner was thrown out at home while trying to score on a passed ball. The Jeffs made it a 7-2 game in the ninth when Brendon Hardin '15 came home on a single to center by Alex Hero '14, but they would close the game with runners stranded on second and third after Barnett recorded another strikeout.
Driscoll (4-1), a sophomore righty, picked up his first loss of the season by surrendering five runs on 12 hits--11 singles--in the first 4.1 innings. Amherst's bullpen gave up only three hits the rest of the way, with Adam Medoff '13 pitching a perfect eighth inning and Dylan Joyce '12 retiring the side in order in the ninth.
Eastern closes out the regular season Friday with a noon doubleheader at the University of Southern Maine. Unofficially, a sweep gives Eastern no worse than a share of the regular-season title and the No. 1 conference tournament seed.