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Panther baseball claims one victory in four tries

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College baseball team was swept last weekend during a three- game NESCAC West home series against Wesleyan at Forbes Field. The Panthers fell by an 8-5 score to the Cardinals during Friday’s single game, and the visitors took both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader by scores of 4-2 and 18-1.
Middlebury won at home vs. St. Michael’s on Tuesday; this was the Panther’s second wins in 19 outings this spring.
On Friday, Wesleyan jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after two innings and held off a late Middlebury comeback attempt on its way to the three-run win.
Wesleyan got on the board with two runs in the top of the first and a single tally an inning later. In the first, two Cardinals executed a double steal and moved up to second and third, and a two-out single drove them home. An inning later, Cardinal Donnie Cimino took a 2-0 pitch and laced a rope that cleared the left center field fence for a 3-0 Wesleyan lead.
In the top of the fifth Wesleyan’s Jonathan Dennett placed a 1-0 fastball down the left field line for a double. After a fly-out, Eric Jones hit nearly the exact same spot for a run-scoring single.
The Panthers got on the board in the bottom of the frame. Freshman Raj Palekar doubled to the gap in left center and raced around to score on a single off the bat of sophomore Johnny Read that hit the mound and bounced high into the air and through the infield.
After Wesleyan scored two more times, Middlebury scored a run in the bottom of the inning when, with the bases loaded, Read sent an opposite-field single off the end of the bat into right center scoring Jason Lock.
An inning later, the Panthers cut the Cardinal lead to three at 6-3 when, with the bases full again, Joe MacDonald sent a sacrifice fly to left as freshman Jake Turtel sprinted home from third.
The visitors pushed their advantage back to five runs at 8-3 in the top of the ninth. In the bottom of the frame, the Panthers put a pair of runs on the board with one out — Read walked and freshman Andrew Corcoran stroked his first career home run — but Wesleyan pitcher Nick Miceli ended the game with a strikeout and a fly-out.
Freshman Robert Erickson took the loss for Middlebury, giving up four runs on six hits in 6.0 innings of work. Senior Eddie DeArias worked a pair of innings surrendering two runs on four hits and three punch-outs, while classmate Cooper Byrne logged the final inning.
In Saturday’s game one, Wesleyan’s Gavin Pittore and Middlebury senior Eric Truss locked in a pitcher’s duel as the wind was blowing in hard from center field. The Cardinals got to Truss in the top of the first with a single tally, and the next inning saw the Cardinals score an unearned run on a throwing error.
In the bottom of the inning, Lock led off with a hard-hit single off the mound. The very next batter in MacDonald grounded out to second, but Lock never stopped running, rounding second and headed to third. When the Cardinal first baseman tried to get Lock at third, his throw sailed over the third baseman’s head and allowed Lock to score.
The score remained a 2-1 Wesleyan lead until the sixth, when the Cardinals added two more runs on sacrifice flies.
Trailing by three, the Panthers scored a run in the home half of the sixth. Rizzo roped a one-out single down the right field line. He moved to second on a groundout and came home on a laser-like double off the bat of senior Dylan Sinnickson (to right center.
Neither team scored in the seventh as the Cardinals hung on for the 4-2 win. Truss went the distance on 81 pitches allowing four runs, three earned, on six hits with a strikeout.
In the nightcap with the wind completely switching directions and blowing out hard to center, the Cardinals jumped on the board in the second inning for three runs, all after two were out. They sprinkled 15 more runs across the next seven innings.
Middlebury scored its only run in the 9th, with two outs, freshman Drew Coash placed a base hit into center that sent Sinnickson home from second base.
On Tuesday, a seven-run second inning proved to be all the Panthers needed on their way to a 7-2 victory over St. Michael’s at Forbes Field.
Middlebury starting pitcher Eric Truss went the first six innings giving up just one run on six hits and striking out four on 82 pitches. Cooper Byrne worked the final three frames for his first save of the year, allowing the eighth-inning run on three hits and striking out three.
The Panthers host St. Joseph’s on Thursday and are scheduled to play two at Trinity on Saturday.

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