Baseball Ends Hopkins Hex With Sweep of No. 24 Blue Jays
SWARTHMORE, Pa. - The Swarthmore College baseball team took the Centennial Conference by surprise on Sunday afternoon, stunning No. 24 Johns Hopkins with 2-0 and 9-4 wins in a doubleheader sweep from Clothier Field. The two wins mark the first time the Garnet (15-8, 6-3) has beaten Hopkins since the 2000 season, having lost 21 straight match-ups in the interim.
Putting the Garnet sweep into perspective, the Blue Jays had not been swept in a Conference doubleheader since losing a pair to Franklin & Marshall in April 2007 and had not been shut out by a Conference opponent since a loss to Gettysburg in April 2006.
The victory over the No. 24 Blue Jays (13-10, 6-3) is also believed to the Garnet's first win over a ranked opponent in program history.
The story of Game 1 was solid pitching performances from junior starter Ignacio Rodriguez (3-1) and sophomore closer Ramsey Walker (pictured), while Game 2 was all about the hitting and defense, as senior Thomas Nakamura and Niko Burnett both finished with three hits and sophomore leftfielder Rory McTear made two inning-ending and run-saving diving catches.
In Game 1, Rodriguez (3-1) had yet another stellar outing, throwing 6.1 shutout frames with six strikeouts. He left the game in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded and one out for closer Ramsey Walker, who struck out the next two batters to seal the win. The performance earned Walker his fifth save of the year, tying the program record for the most in a single season.
Game 2 featured prolific displays of offense and defense by the Garnet, as the bats gained an early advantage and the gloves kept Hopkins at bay. Up against the Blue Jays' Alex Eliopolous, the Conference's ERA leader coming into the game, the Swarthmore offense wasted little time in making a statement. In the second, the Garnet put two on the board courtesy of a wild pitch and an RBI single from Nakamura.
Then in the third, Swarthmore broke the game open with five more runs, aiding by two crippling errors by Blue Jay fielders. The inning opened with a Montalbano single up the middle, followed by a walk to sophomore left fielder Rory McTear. Junior catcher Mike Waterhouse drove in Montalbano with a single, and Cameron followed with a 2-RBI base hit of his own. Nakamura and senior centerfielder Ben Schneiderman drove in two-out runs to give the Garnet a 7-0 lead.
After an RBI double from Burnett brought the Swarthmore advantage to 8-0, the Hopkins bats began to come alive, as they answered with two runs in the sixth and one in each of the seventh and eighth innings. However, highlight-reel catches in the sixth and eighth innings by McTear in left field prevented the comeback from gaining a foothold.
With the score holding at 9-4 in the ninth inning, Walker once again came in with the bases loaded and two outs to record a one-pitch save. He now occupies the sole top spot on Swarthmore's single-season saves list.
Junior starter Kyle Crawford (2-1) pitched seven solid innings, striking out three and scattering six hits to pick up his second-consecutive win. Seniors James Bernard and Adam Koshkin pitched the eighth and ninth to preserve the win.
The difference in the games was clutch hitting and tight defense by the Garnet, in contrast to the Blue Jays, who made eight errors (seven in Game 2) and left 26 men on base.
Cameron finished the doubleheader with three RBI.
Of the Garnet's 19 hits for the afternoon, a double from Burnett in the fourth inning was the sole extra-base hit.
Swarthmore will travel to Washington College tomorrow as the team attempts to take the season series from the Shoremen. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m.