The baseball team competed in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament this past Saturday, comfortably sweeping Bowdoin, the No. 1 seed in the East Division. The Mammoths, entering as the West Division’s No. 4 seed, won the first two games of the potential three-game series 17-6 and 9-2. With the series victory, Amherst has punched its ticket to the final four of the NESCAC Championship, which will take place at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, this weekend.
Because they were the lower seed, the Mammoths had to make the long trip to New Brunswick, Maine, for their quarterfinal series. Even with the lengthy bus ride and the challenge of playing on enemy soil, the Mammoths still exploded for 26 runs on 31 hits through two games on Saturday. This offensive outburst, combined with formidable pitching performances, ensured that Amherst did not trail at any point over the course of the two games.
The Mammoths set the tone for the series early, scoring four runs in the opening inning of game one. A Jackson Reydel ’23 RBI single, a Chris Murphy ’22 two-run double, and an error committed by the Polar Bears that allowed Murphy to score gave the Mammoths a 4-0 lead. Another run came across in the top of the second via a Jack McDermott ’25 sacrifice fly, bringing the score to 5-0. In the meantime, starting pitcher Nick Giattino ’24 worked himself out of jams, stranding two baserunners in each of the first two innings. After a brief lull in scoring, the Mammoths extended their lead to 9-0 in the fifth inning off of a pair of two-run home runs from Daniel Qin ’22, his first of the season, and Ryan McIntyre ’25, his third.
The Polar Bears attempted to mount a comeback in their half of the fifth, scoring five runs capped off by a grand slam. They added another run in the sixth to cut the Mammoths’ lead to 9-6. However, the Mammoths responded in just about the best way possible in the top of the seventh, with an emphatic grand slam of their own off the bat of McDermott, which brought his RBI total to five for the game and extended the Mammoths’ lead to 13-6. Amherst would add four more insurance runs in the last two innings, including an RBI triple from Jack Dove ’23, to seal the 17-6 win.
Giattino earned the win on the mound, pitching 5.1 innings and allowing six earned runs on seven hits, while walking four batters and tallying four strikeouts. Tyson Luna ’25 was nearly flawless in relief, allowing just one hit over 3.1 innings pitched and striking out four. Registering 17 total hits as a team, every player in the Mammoths’ lineup recorded at least one hit and scored at least one run en route to their highest scoring game all season.
Game two began in a very familiar fashion — the Mammoths again scored first, plating one run in the first inning and two in the second for an early 3-0 lead. It appeared as though this had the makings of a tighter affair, as a two-run Polar Bear home run in the second brought the score to 3-2, but those two runs were the only scoring the Polar Bears would manage for the rest of the contest. And as their defense showed out, offensively, the Mammoths continued to tack on runs. They scored twice in the third off a pair of sacrifice flies from Christian Fagnant ’24 and Jack Boyle ’25, then proceeded to add three more in the fifth on a Reydel RBI single and a Dove two-run single, which brought the score to 8-2. A Luke Padian ’24 RBI double in the ninth added one additional insurance run to put a bow on the 9-2 victory.
Starting pitcher Jacob Ribitzki ’24 was superb from the mound. He pitched nine complete innings, allowing just two earned runs on seven hits while striking out seven. This is nothing new for Ribitzki — he has found his groove in the latter stages of the season. Impressively, he has gone the distance in each of his last three starts, all of which have been against NESCAC opponents.
With the victory, the Mammoths now advance to the double-elimination Championship series next weekend at Trinity with the other three remaining teams: Colby, Hamilton, and Middlebury. As the lowest remaining seed, the Mammoths will face Middlebury, the No. 1 seed in the West Division — whom the Mammoths lost a three-game series to 2-1 earlier in the season — in their first game.
As the incumbent NESCAC champions, the Mammoths are certainly familiar with what it takes to have success in the postseason. Senior captain and reigning NESCAC Player of the Year Daniel Qin believes this is one of the team’s greatest strengths.
“We are starting to play our best baseball at the best time,” said Qin. “I definitely feel like having the experience of winning a NESCAC title last year will benefit us, and there won’t be any moment that is too big for us.”
Qin is certainly right about the team getting hot at the right time — the Mammoths have won their last seven games and have scored an average of over 12 runs per game during that span.
If the Mammoths win their opening game on Friday, May 13, they will advance to the winner’s bracket to face the winner of the Colby-Hamilton game on Saturday, May 14. If they then win game two, they will advance to the finals on Sunday, May 15, where they will have two opportunities to secure the championship. If they lose game one, they will face the loser of the other game in the loser’s bracket, and then the loser of the winner’s bracket’s second game, for a chance to advance to the finals, where they will need to win two games to secure the championship. Game one on Friday is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.