NORTHBOROUGH, Mass – Thursday afternoon, the Anna Maria baseball team played their first game since returning from their Spring Break trip to Florida last week. Their opponent, new Division III program Dean College. Though the Bulldogs kept it close, the AMCATS took the game, 4-3, to improve to 4-7 on the season.
For the AMCATS, Adam Twitchell and Jason Shell each had multi-hit games that included a double with both of shells hits coming in the form of two-baggers. Justin Robbins went one-for-three in the game with a home run, his second of the season, and drove in two runs. Though he didn't have an official at-bat, Phil Antonucci was the difference for the AMCATS after he pinch hit for Robbins in the eighth inning, walked, and subsequently scored the winning run. Starting pitcher Andrew Rodriques pitched six innings, allowed eight hits, all three of the Bulldog runs while walking two and striking out three hitters. Getting the win in relief for Anna Maria, Adam Twitchell who pitched 2.1 innings. He allowed just one hit and struck out two Dean hitters.
Dean racked up 11 hits in the game, three of which came from Will Kulcher who went three-for-five and drove in a run. Kulchers hits included a single, double and a home run. Travis Dinsdale and Matt Callahan also had multi-hit games for the Bulldogs and Dinsdale drove in a run. Starter Brian Hadden pitched 4.2 innings for Dean allowing three runs to Anna Maria. He gave up five of the six AMC hits, struck out three hitters and walked three. Alex Belanger would end up with the loss for Dean after giving up the go ahead run in the eighth.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring in the top of the first with Jeff Sharnick driving in Hadden on a single to center to take a 1-0 lead.
In the third, Dean would tack on another run after a Kulcher home run over the left field fence. In the bottom of the inning, Anna Maria got on the board in a big way. First, with a double from Shell that drove in Twitchell to cut the Bulldog lead in half. Robbins followed that up with a two-run home run to left to give his team a 3-2 advantage after three.
In the fifth, Dean kept the fun going with a single by Dinsdale that plated Callahan to tie the score at three. In the bottom of the inning, the AMCATS threatened again getting two runners in scoring position but were not able to take advantage of the situation leaving men on and keeping the game at three apiece.
The sixth inning brought more excitement to an already close and exciting afternoon. After Bulldog Dakari Cox walked to open the sixth inning he stole second base to get in to scoring position. With two outs in the innings Landon Fish singled to center field, Cox rounded third and headed home, testing the arm of Anna Maria center fielder Adam Twitchell. Twitchell fired the ball to catcher Greg Gehring that took him up the third baseline. As he turned to tag Cox he was too late and he watched Cox trot back to the dugout. In the midst of the excitement a handful of AMCAT players in the dugout yelled to Gehring to go tag Cox as he had missed home plate. Gehring ran over to Cox who was a step out of the dugout, tagged him on the back and the umpire called him out, ending the inning with the score left at 3-3.
The score would remain as such until the eighth. Antonucci got the nod to pinch hit for Robbins. Antonucci walked to open the inning and was sacrificed to second by Tanner Jakola. Antonucci kept moving around the bases as Jake Crevier grounded out to first allowing him to move up 90 feet to third. The following hitter, Gehring, hit a ball to the left side that couldn't be handled by the Bulldog third baseman which allowed Gehring to reach base on an error and Antonucci scored to give the 'Cats the 4-3 lead heading in to the ninth.
Twitchell struck out the first two hitters for Dean in the ninth. With two outs Vincent Buonaiuto singled to center followed by Dinsdale reaching on an error and advancing to second on the play with Buonaiuto advancing to third. With the tying run on third and the go ahead run on second, Kulcher made the inning anti-climactic for the Bulldogs as he flied out to center to end the ballgame, giving the AMCATS the 4-3 win.
Anna Maria will be back on the field Saturday morning beginning at 11am when they take on Eastern Nazarene in a double header on Field #2 at NEBC.