Every Monday we will recap the weekend’s action by handing out our analysis in the form of a stock report. With the first weekend of action in the books, The ‘CAC regular season is officially underway.
1. Mother Nature- Nobody else had a bigger impact on this weekend’s games. Almost every weekend game was affected somehow with the rain precipitating (pun fully intended) starting times being changed and games shortened, though luckily only three games had to be postponed. Amherst and Hamilton moved the site of their series a good five hour drive south to Yaphank, New York on Long Island. They were unable to play the final game of their three game series, but a tip of the cap to the teams and athletic departments for finding an inventive way to play the other two games. Tufts and Bates only fit in the first game of their series which was moved from Bates to Tufts because of the weather causing Bates’ ‘home opener’ to become a bit of a misnomer. Bowdoin and Trinity managed to fit all three games in, but the final one was shortened to eight innings because of the rain. A glance at the forecast looks promising as this week will be filled with sun and temperatures in the 40s and 50s. The rain this weekend melted a lot of the snow and ice left on fields so by next weekend hopefully every home NESCAC field is ready to go.
2. Amherst- I was expecting Hamilton to steal at least one of their games this weekend (and it’s possible they would have if the third game had been played), but Amherst looked like a very strong team from top to bottom in the two games. Hamilton’s best chance to win was probably the first game with their ace Jjay Lane ’15 on the hill, and they managed to strike in the first against Amherst’s Fred Shepard ’14. After that the lefty Amherst native dominated going seven innings and striking out eight without allowing another run. Shepard has already thrown a no-hitter and is the owner of a not too shabby 0.93 ERA through three starts. The offense got to Lane for two runs in the first inning and added another in the sixth for a final score of 3-1. The second game was not nearly as competitive with Amherst tagging Hamilton’s Cole Dreyfuss ’16 for six runs in the second inning. Andrew Vandini ’16 and Mike Odenwaelder ’16 led the way with three hits each, Dylan Driscoll ’14 went seven scoreless striking out nine, and Amherst’s depth showed a little when leftfielder and number eight hitter Anthony Spina ’17 hit a solo shot in the third. Amherst has the big rivalry weekend coming up with Williams, and they should be confident knowing they are handing the ball to both Shepard and Driscoll again next weekend.
3. Harry Ridge ’16 Starting Pitcher (Bowdoin)- Ridge had stretches when he threw the ball very well last year as a freshman, but he has improved his consistency leaps and bounds through four starts. He doesn’t overpower you with his raw stuff with only 14 strikeouts so far, but Ridge does a great job forcing the issue with hitters, keeping them off balance, and preventing anything from being hit too hard. This weekend he shut down Trinity’s offense for six innings allowing only two hits and no runs as Bowdoin cruised in the first game of their doubleheader. Ridge’s performance has been especially critical because Bowdoin has had their three top starters from last season barely throw in 2014. Oliver Van Zant ’13 graduated, Christian Martin ’14 has yet to throw a pitch, and Henry Van Zant ’15 saw his first action this weekend in relief. His and Erik Jacobsen’s ’15 performance has helped Bowdoin off to a very good start despite all those absences.
1. Middlebury- We knew it was going to be tough sledding for Middlebury because of what they lost from their senior class and then the decision of Hunter Merryman ’15 and Dylan Sinnickson ’15 to not play this season in order to focus on basketball. Still, the Panthers have looked helpless at times so far including this weekend when Williams swept them with ease. Williams has a good offense, but they should not be putting up 18 and 20 runs against NESCAC teams. Middlebury is an extremely young team with only two seniors on the roster, and you have to feel bad but also be impressed with Alex Kelly’s ’14 play so far. The outfielder is hitting for a .422 average at the top of the lineup while also playing great defense in the outfield. Middlebury finished up their Arizona trip at 2-8 and will have to face a loaded Wesleyan team next weekend in Connecticut. It is likely to be a long season for the Panthers, but there are still plenty of positives able to be drawn from it.
2. Scott Huley ’15 Outfielder (Trinity)- A lot was expected out of Huley entering the season as Trinity had to replace multiple starters from last years team, and he has not been up to the task so far. He hasn’t been terrible with a .382 on-base percentage, but his .356 slugging percentage underlies how Trinity has been all season. Since hitting two doubles in Trinity’s second game against Denison, Huley has had only two extra base hits. Trinity as a team has been getting on base at a below average rate of .351, but their slugging percentage of .326 overall is abysmal. Nobody expected Huley to come out and show off explosive power given his frame, but his inability to hit doubles this year means he can’t be the middle of the lineup presence we expected him to be. Also, after pitching 18 innings with a respectable ERA, he is yet to take the mound this season despite Trinity having issues with their pitching. Why Manager Bryan Adamski hasn’t used him is unclear, and Huley’s value has suffered. He is still a player with a lot of talent, but little time to turn it around, just like Trinity as a whole.
3. Jeff Blout ’14 Starting Pitcher (Wesleyan)- Overshadowed by Wesleyan’s overall success thus far has been the disastrous pitching of Blout. His outing this weekend against Mitchell was his best of the season, but it still was far from dominant. While Blout only allowed one run in five innings, he had to pitch around four walks. On the season he has only 12 strikeouts to 11 walks which is an unacceptable ratio. Blout had a top four ERA in the NESCAC last season, and his 7.13 ERA this year is more than three times higher than his 2.06 ERA from 2013. The Wesleyan offense has been scary to pitch against for opposing teams, but the Cardinals are not going to give Amherst a serious challenge for the division crown if their pitching doesn’t pull it together. Blout has to find his stuff again because Wesleyan has nobody else who can replace him. Peter Rantz ’16 and Nick Cooney ’15 have been the most consistent pitchers, but neither of them are aces. Blout is the key for Wesleyan.