Men’s baseball heating up against league opponents

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After a week of Liberty League action, the baseball team is looking like strong contenders to defend their crown from last season. The Dutchmen took seven of eight from Skidmore College and the University of Rochester this past week, good enough to occupy the top spot in the league standings. The strong pitching that drove Union’s success last season has carried over thus far despite the loss of Jake Fishman, who was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays selected in the 30th round of the last summer’s MLB Draft.

The Dutchmen own the best team ERA (3.10) and lowest batting average against (.212) in the Liberty League through eight league games. Jake Vesling ’18 set the tone in the first game of a doubleheader with Skidmore on April 2, giving up only one run and four hits over seven innings while striking out five in Union’s 7-1 win.

In the second half of the double header, a six-run seventh inning flipped an 8-5 deficit into an 11-8 Union lead. Anthony Amoroso ’19 got the rally started with a leadoff home run to left field. After a wild pitch with the bases loaded made it 8-7 later in the inning, an error by Skidmore’s centerfielder on a single by Wiley Knight ’19 brought in three more runs for the Dutchmen. Knight advanced to second on the error before scoring on a Zack Twitchell ’18 single to cap off the inning.

Another Skidmore error in the 8th helped add to Union’s lead, which Sam Mikell ’20 preserved in relief, allowing a lone run over the final 2.1 innings. Although Skidmore tightened up defensively and cooled off the Dutchmen’s bats in a 3-0 win in the first of two more games the following day, Union rebounded to take the second game 5-3.

The Dutchmen jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, thanks to an RBI triple by Kent Curran ’17 and an RBI single by Vesling in the 1st, and Nate Olson’s ’18 RBI single in the 2nd. Twitchell would later cross the plate on a wild pitch in the 6th, providing the Dutchmen with a crucial insurance run, as Skidmore would score three times in the bottom half of the inning. Josh Garber ’20 delivered a solid performance on the mound for Union, walking two and giving up four hits over 5.1 innings. Bill Cristopher ’18 got Union out of the jam in 6th, pitching the final 1.2 innings to earn the save in the 5-3 win.

On Wednesday April 5, the Dutchmen defeated Southern Vermont College 16-3 in a non-conference matchup. Vesling drove in three runs, while Amoroso, Curran, and Colin Kelly ’20 each had two RBI. Adam Ashenfarb ’17, Colin Nye ’20, Nick Williams ’18, Anthony DeSantis ’18 and Drew Johnson ’19 all saw action on the mound for the Dutchmen in the victory. A three-run 5th inning broke a 1-1 tie in Union’s opening game with Rochester this past Saturday. Matt Catalfo ’20 set up the run with his speed, leading off with a bunt single, stealing second, and advancing to third on an error before scoring on an RBI groundout by Amoroso.

A Curran triple was followed by back-to-back doubles by Cullen and Kelly, plating two more runs for the Dutchmen. Rochester responded with two runs off of Vesling in the 6th, but a fielder’s choice off the bat of Amoroso provided an important insurance run for the Dutchmen in the bottom half.

Christopher once again nailed down the save with 1.1 perfect innings. Union’s offense exploded in Game 2, scoring 14 runs in the first seven innings of the nine-inning game. Curran, Vesling, Cullen, and J.R. Lopez ’20 all had multi-hit, multi-RBI games at the plate. Ryan Kuchar ’18 was sharp on the mound, tossing six scoreless frames, tallying six strikeouts and four walks while allowing just three hits.

The Dutchmen completed the sweep of Rochester on Sunday, earning 2-1 and 8-2 victories. Tim Curtis ’19 got the start for Union in the first game and gave up only one run over 4.2 innings, striking out five. Curran and Andy Labeck ’18 had a pair of RBI singles in the top of the 4th after Twitchell singled and stole second to lead off the inning. Mikell went the rest of the way in relief of Curtis, tossing 2.1 scoreless innings to earn the save. Union jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the second game behind an RBI double by Curran and a solo home run by Labeck. Ashenfarb pitched well, striking out three and walking none over six innings. Both of Rochester’s runs were unearned. Union added onto the lead once Rochester threatened, scoring two in both the 7th and 8th to blow the game open. Garber threw three perfect innings in relief to seal the victory and the sweep. Union returns to Liberty League action this weekend when it takes on Vassar College in a pair of doubleheaders.

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