Baseball routs Fords to begin conference play

Sam Menzin rounds the bases in the Garnet’s thrashing of Keuka College. (Justin Toran-Burrell/The Phoenix)

The Swarthmore baseball team continued to pile up victories, improving to 15-4 with two wins over Keuka College and conference rival Haverford. The 15-4 record gives Swarthmore second place in the Centennial conference.

On Monday, first baseman Mike Cameron ’12 lead the Garnet to an absolute blowout, as Swarthmore defeated upstate New York’s Keuka College 20-4. Cameron went 4-for-5 with two home runs, a double and a triple, driving in five runs altogether. His two home runs gave him 12 in his Garnet career, widening his lead for most career home runs in program history.

“It was one of those games where everything came together,” Cameron said, referring both to himself as well as the performance of the entire team.

“Everyone hit tremendously well, and when one guy gets a hit, and more fastballs come, it’s a lot easier to get more hits.”

Cameron was one of six Garnet starters to enjoy a multi-hit game, with each starting player recording at least one hit. Second baseman Anthony Montalbano continued to rake out of the leadoff spot, going 3-for-4 with a home run, while right fielder Tim Kwilos ’13 upped his average to a team-leading .460 with three more hits and three more RBI to extend his conference lead in runs batted in.

“Every time you take every at-bat seriously, and take every pitch seriously, it can be a really productive day,” shortstop Danny McMahon ’15 said. McMahon went 2-for-5 on the day, driving in two runs.

Swarthmore got started early, as Montalbano’s lead-off homer set the tone for a four-run first inning and the rest of the game. By the end of the third inning, Swarthmore lead 14-0 and the final three innings had become a formality.

Zach Schmidt at bat for the Garnet. (Justin Toran-Burrell/The Phoenix)

Right-handed relief pitcher Ramsey Walker ‘13, in his first start of the year, picked up the win with six quality innings of two-run ball. Walker allowed six hits and also struck out six. Matt Bertuch ‘14, Colton Aho ’15 and Samer Nashed ‘15 each pitched an inning in relief, with Bertuch and Nashed allowing one run apiece.

For the visiting Keuka Storm, starter Dale Rifenbark took the loss, recording just two outs while getting torched for seven runs on seven hits. At the plate, utilityman Michael Hutchings provided the lone spark with a pair of triples in two at-bats.

“We felt we were the better team going in, and we wanted to take care of business,” outfielder Rory McTear ’13 said.
“We have to act like these games are conference games as well. We’ve got to score runs early so we don’t have to worry about them clawing back.”

Somewhat incredibly, the twenty runs scored and the sixteen-run margin of victory were only team bests since last season, when the Garnet enjoyed a 23-4 win over Penn State-Harrisburg on March 10th.

Fresh off the rout of Keuka, the team had to come right back and visit Haverford the next afternoon for a much-anticipated rivalry matchup and the opener to conference play. This, as McTear described it, was the game that the team had put an ‘X’ on in the schedule.

Keyed by a six-run rally in the third inning, Swarthmore defeated its conference rival 12-4 to win its first conference game and move to 15-4 on the year overall.

The Fords took an early lead when Justin Coulter doubled in first baseman Jake Chaplin in the bottom of the first, but it would prove to be Haverford’s only lead of the game. Swarthmore came back to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the second on a two-run shot by Waterhouse, and broke the game wide open in the top of the third. The Garnet sent 11 men to the plate, scoring six runs on four hits. The team got a break along the way when Waterhouse reached on an error by shortstop Clay Bloszies that kept the inning going. By the time the side was finally retired, Swarthmore had opened up an 8-1 advantage that would prove to be a bigger cushion than they would need.

“[In the Haverford game], the umpire was squeezing everything,” Cameron said. “That allowed us to take a few more pitches, and see more fastballs. Their pitcher [starter Jonny Williams] was mostly around the plate, and if you’re around the plate but not overpowering us, we’re going to hit you.”

Swarthmore’s powerful offense, ranked fourth in the conference in runs scored, continued to set the tone for the whole team. Five of the Garnet starters recorded multi-hit games, with the team getting 14 hits overall. Lefty Ignacio Rodriguez ‘12 picked up his team-leading fifth win despite an uneven performance. Rodriguez allowed four runs on eight hits while walking six and striking out three. Zach Weiner ‘12 and Sean Mangus ‘13 combined for three scoreless frames in relief. Williams took the loss for the Fords, falling to 1-4 on the season.

Despite their defeat, Haverford will have a shot at redemption very soon. They play the Garnet here at Swarthmore this Friday at 3:30 p.m. The next day, Swarthmore will travel to Gettysburg for an afternoon doubleheader.

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