In several situations this season, the Emerson baseball team has found itself playing from behind. The Lions’ first-round playoff game, held Tuesday night at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, was no exception.
After senior starting pitcher Jeff Kolb gave up five runs in the first inning, the Lions found themselves in a hole that they were unable to claw their way out of. The Anna Maria offense tacked on seven more runs throughout the next eight innings, shutting out Emerson with a final score of 12-0.
Senior catcher Geoff Lopes said that despite the AMCATS strong play in the first inning, he thought that his team still had a chance to win.
“We’ve had a tough team this year,” he said. “We know if the teams let us hang around, we can make some plays.”
Emerson came into the matchup having won its last four games. But strong defense by Anna Maria, according to head coach David Hanley, was what prevented Emerson from gaining any sort of momentum throughout the tilt.
“We ran into a buzzsaw,” Hanley said, referring to Anna Maria’s starting pitcher Jeff Scafidi. “He just shut us down, and we couldn’t get back in. He struck out 13 guys and started the first 11 with a strike. He’s probably going to be the pitcher of the year in the conference.”
Hanley said that although his team played well in the field, the initial deficit was too great to overcome.
“They got relaxed, we got tense, and they hit the ball,” he said. “We just couldn’t hit.”
After Kolb allowed five runs early on, he was replaced by sophomore Nick Kelly. Kelly pitched just over five innings for the Lions and limited the AMCATS to just one run until the seventh.
The Emerson pitchers could not match Scafidi, however—the righty limited the Lions to three hits on the day. Two of the three came from senior Peter Maltzan, bringing his season total to 50.
Lopes said that as the team fell farther behind, players grew more desperate.
“We were trying to call timeouts to slow down their momentum, but the umps wouldn’t give them to us,” he said. “A lot of guys were pressing and trying to do too much, which is not how we usually play. Everything that could go right for them was going right, and everything that could go wrong for us was going wrong.”
The two teams played a double-header March 31, with Anna Maria coming away with 5-4 and 7-4 wins. Hanley said that the main difference between those games and Tuesday afternoon’s was Scafidi’s improvement. Scafidi gave up four runs in as many innings last time he faced Emerson.
“It’s the old adage, ‘good pitching’s a good inning,’” Hanley said. “He struck out five guys in a row on 16 pitches. He was dominating.”
Lopes added that Scafidi was keeping the ball low in the strike zone, which was part of what gave the Lions trouble.
“As soon as we put a foot in the box, he was already in his wind-up,” he said.
Emerson ended its season with an overall record of 12-26 (6-10, GNAC). Though the Lions’ finish wasn’t what they had hoped for, Hanley said that he was proud of his team’s accomplishment.
“We’ve made the playoffs every year,” he said. “We’re one of only four teams [at Emersonl] that can say that.”
Grady can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.