As we thought would be the case, the hierarchies of the East and West divisions look very different. While the West is owned by a couple of heavyweights, the East is a morass with teams jockeying every week for position.
Out West, Amherst and Wesleyan flexed their muscles in a big way with each team earning a sweep this weekend over Middlebury and Williams, respectively. The Amherst offense looked straight up scary against Middlebury. Williams getting swept by Wesleyan means that the Ephs now will have to win their series against Amherst to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs. Hamilton hasn’t played a NESCAC game yet, but they do not appear to have the pitching to seriously compete for a playoff spot. Amherst and Wesleyan look like they will both be headed back to the postseason in a playoff race that what will lack for drama.
Fortunately for us, the race for the second spot in the East is getting juicier by the day. Colby has jumped to the front of the line at the moment after taking two of three from Trinity. Bates and Bowdoin are right there close behind them, and the Bantams are still thinking they have a shot at the playoffs. Even Tufts will have to play well in order to keep from falling back to the pack. The East standings have Tufts and Colby at the top for now.
Starting Pitcher Gavin Pittore ’16 (Wesleyan)
In a weekend where offense ruled overall, Pittore was stellar in the second game of Wesleyan’s series. He pitched a complete seven inning game and shut down the Williams lineup completely. He allowed only one unearned run. The start drops his ERA to 2.67 for the year. A big key for Pittore is his control. He has walked only two batters per nine innings, and likes to attack hitters early in the count. In his four stars so far, he has averaged nearly seven innings which has been helpful to the Cardinals who have to rely on their starting catcher Nick Miceli ’17 as one of their top relievers. Pittore looks confident and in control so far in his junior year.
Starting Pitcher/DH Soren Hanson ’16 (Colby)
Another good pitching performance came from Hanson, who returned to play after missing the second half of Colby’s Florida trip to lead the Mules to a huge doubleheader sweep of Trinity to take the series against the Bantams. In the first game Hanson was on the mound for all seven innings and allowed no runs on only four hits and two walks. Then in the second game he went 1-3 and scored two runs to help Colby win 5-3. Hanson is one of a few two-way players in the NESCAC right now, but no team relies so heavily on them to perform as Colby does. In limited at-bats so far, Hanson has an OBP of .450. When he is in the lineup he usually bats cleanup, but on Saturday when he was pitching, Colby kept him out of the lineup. That allowed him to focus on pitching, something he did quite well.
Shortstop Matt Moser ’16 (Tufts)
We probably won’t see a better stat line for a single game than what Moser put up Saturday in a non-conference game against Brandeis. He went 5-5 with four runs, eight RBI, and three (three!) home runs. Tufts went bonkers as a team scoring 28 runs in only seven innings of play. Moser was the star, however. The junior had been enjoying a very productive but somewhat quiet season thus far with other players like Tommy O’Hara ’18 and Bryan Egan ’15 grabbing more of the hitting headlines. Now suddenly he sits in the top five in the NESCAC for a lot of different hitting categories. Unlike most of the Tufts roster, he doesn’t walk very often and swings at almost everything. Like many other shortstops, Moser has his fair share of errors, but not many other shortstops are able to hit for power like Moser can.
Williams’ Base Running
Down 7-5 entering the final inning of the third game against Wesleyan, the Ephs managed to get two runners on with two outs. Adam Dulsky ’18 singled to right and Luke Pierce ’15, the lead runner, scored to make it 7-6, but the trail runner, pinch-runner Lev Schecter ’18 was gunned out at third on a great throw from right fielder Ben Hoynes ’15. The general rule in baseball is never to make the first or third out of the inning at third base, but hard to fault Schecter in that situation. Give the credit to Hoynes for making a money throw in a pressure situation. One of the major reasons why Wesleyan is the clear favorite right now is because they have experience at every position and are not relying on underclassmen in crucial situations.
After winning the first game of their doubleheader against Bates 15-4, the Polar Bears saw their defense let them down and lost the second game 9-5 to drop to 2-3 in the NESCAC now. Four different players committed errors which led to three unearned runs. The loss for Bowdoin is a big set back for them. The Polar Bears have lost the three NESCAC games not started by Henry Van Zant ’15, and their offense has fluctuated wildly between very good and mediocre. Besides Van Zant, the rest of the Bowdoin staff relies on the defense to make plays behind them. Their defense had actually been one of the better ones in the NESCAC before yesterday, but now Bowdoin is going to have to finish strong to return to the playoffs.
The opening NESCAC weekend for Trinity confirmed that last year was not some weird fluke; the Bantams are a flawed team that has fallen back to the pack. The walk-off home run by Daniel Pidgeon ’16 in the first game against Colby looked like a huge moment, but the Bantams squandered the opportunity by dropping both games on Saturday. Their offense went cold which has been the overarching problem for Trinity. As a team Trinity has the lowest OBP and Slugging Percentage in the NESCAC. The Bantams have now lost five straight NESCAC series with their last win coming all the way back in 2013. Trinity has a huge series coming up against Tufts this weekend. They need to win at least one of those games if they want to make a push for the playoffs.