Bates College shortstop Asher MacDonald tags Trinity’s Ben Reinisch out as he tried to steal second base when a pitch in the dirt bounced off the chest of Bates catcher Jack Arend, but the Bates catcher scooped it up and fired a perfect strike for the out.
LEWISTON — Saturday morning, Connor Russell was sitting at breakfast when he found out that he was going to be starting on the mound for Bates College.
Saturday afternoon, Russell shut down Trinity College as Bates earned a 4-1 NESCAC baseball win at Leahey Field.
“It was kind of short notice that we were going to start him today, just with what was going on with the weather and all that,” Bates head coach Jon Martin said. “But he came in today and pitched great, that was the best start he’s had all year.”
Russell, a junior left-hander from Cumberland, allowed only one run and two hits in 7 2/3 innings for the Bobcats, earning his second win of the season.
“My two-seam was just unbelievable today, guys were just swinging over the top of it,” Russell said. “I was able to get on that outside corner, which is something I’ve been having trouble with, but I was finally able command that today, which was awesome.”
Bates remains undefeated in the NESCAC at 7-0, and improves to 12-6 overall.
Martin said the key to the Bobcats’ success has been pitching and defense, and that they’re “finding a way to scratch runs across.”
Bates tallied eight hits, all singles, which it turned into four runs.
Third baseman Kyle Carter and first baseman Brendan Canavan, the Bobcats Nos. 2 and 3 hitters, were catalysts for the early offense.
“Just the top of the order trying to get something started for the bottom of the order, and it just worked out,” Carter said.
Carter reached on an infield single in the first and advanced to second on Canavan’s single down the left field line. Carter scored from there when Trinity second baseman Cooper Mooney bobbled Brendan Fox’s grounder.
“Unfortunately, defensively we gave them life there with that ground ball by Fox,” Trinity coach Bryan Adamski said. “We gave them the first run, and they did a really good job of batting on from there.”
Carter led off the bottom of the third with a single, and Canavan followed with a single up the middle that just eluded Trinity shortstop Ben Reinisch’s glove. Fox’s sacrifice bunt moved Carter and Canavan over to second and third.
Catcher Jack Arend singled home Carter, and Canavan came home on a fielder’s choice to make the Bobcats’ lead 3-0.
Bates’ Asher MacDonald led off the bottom of the fourth with a single that barely got by Trinity third baseman Matt Koperniak, then Will Sylvia reached on an infield single when Reinisch slipped. Carter walked to load the bases with one out.
Canavan flied out to deep center field, scoring MacDonald and advancing Sylvia to third and Carter to second, making it 4-0.
“We’re not a team that’s going to come in and just hit doubles off the wall all day. We’re kind of a scummy offense,” Martin said. “Whatever it takes to get it going is what we’ve got to do.”
Trinity starter Erik Mohl reached a high pitch count in the early innings, but lasted through the seventh inning. The first-inning error didn’t help Mohl, nor did Bates’ hits that just squeezed through the infield.
“You make your own luck in this game. So there’s no cheapies, in my mind,” Adamski said. “If a team is going to string enough offense together to score runs, they deserve to win the game, and we didn’t do it.”
Aggressive base running by Christian Orsini finally got Trinity on the board in the fifth. Orsini singled to right field then hustled to second on what was ruled an error by Sylvia. Orsini went to third on a groundout and tagged up and scored when Ryan Vultaggio flied out to left field.
Russell gave up two walks in the eighth inning, and was lifted for Jake Shapiro with two outs. Shapiro struck out Johnny Stamatis to end the inning, then finished off the Bantams with a three-up, three-out ninth inning that was punctuated by a game-Sunday at noon and 3 p.m.
The Bobcats are two games ahead of Tufts (6-2) in the loss column in the NESCAC East Division standings. After Sunday’s doubleheader, Bates has three conference games remaining.
“We’ve got a long way to go in a short amount of time,” Martin said. “It’s like drinking from a firehose, you just got to kind of get it all done real quick.
“Tomorrow’s a new day. We’re going to come out and try to get Game 1.”
Bates College shortstop Asher MacDonald tags Trinity’s Ben Reinisch out as he tried to steal second base when a pitch in the dirt bounced off the chest of Bates catcher Jack Arend, but the Bates catcher scooped it up and fired a perfect strike for the out.Trinity’s Christian Orsini slides into third safely before the throw reaches Bates shortstop Asher MacDonald covering third base. Orsini was at second and took off for third when the Bates third baseman fielded a grounder and threw the batter out at first.Bates shortstop Asher MacDonald celebrates after tagging out Trinity’s Ben Reinisch during Saturday’s game.Bates players congratulate each other after Saturday’s victory over Trinity CollegeBates third baseman Kyle Carter gets handcuffed by a hard grounder that took a big hop in front of him during Saturday’s game against Trinity. Carter managed to corral the ball and throw the batter out.Bates pitcher Connor Russell fires a pitch during Saturday’s game against TrinityBates relief pitcher Jake Shapiro fires a strike to end the 8th inning during Saturday’s victory over TrinityBates College head baseball coach Jon Martin watches the action during Saturday’s game against Trinity College in Lewiston.