Panther nine wins league series
CLINTON, N.Y. — The Middlebury College baseball team took two of three games from host NESCAC West foe Hamilton this past weekend to improve to 8-12 overall and 5-4 in league play.
That NESCAC West mark is good enough for second place in NESCAC West heading into this weekend’s home set with first-place Amherst (16-6, 4-2). The teams will meet at 4 p.m. on Friday and the play a noon doubleheader on Saturday. The Panthers were also set to play at Plattsburgh on Wednesday.
On this past Friday vs. Hamilton (12-9, 2-4), the Panthers took the opener of the series, 14-12, by scoring 10 runs in the fifth inning after trailing, 7-2.
The Panthers struck for those 10 runs on seven hits and four Hamilton errors. Joe MacDonald and Max Araya each drove in runs with RBI singles, Drew Coash hit an RBI triple, while John Luke poked two RBI hits.
Raj Palekar added to the lead with a solo homer to left in the sixth.
A three-run homer by the Continentals’ Chris Collins and an RBI single from Cooper Halpern brought the Continentals within a run in the seventh, but then Middlebury added a run in the ninth when MacDonald singled in Johnny Read, who led off with a bunt single.
McDonald lashed three hits and drove in four runs, while Luke (two RBI) and Jake Turtel (two runs) also each had three hits. Coash doubled and tripled, and Brendan Donohue poked two hits and pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his first career save.
Conor Himstead (1-1), the second of four Panther pitchers, recorded his first career win, allowing one run and one hit in 2.1 innings. The game was the 100th of his career for Middlebury catcher Max Araya.
Collins finished five-for-five with two homers, four runs and seven RBIs to pace Hamilton.
In Saturday’s opening game, the Continentals rallied for a 4-3 win. The Panthers took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning on RBI hits by MacDonald and Sam Graf, and Graf’s sixth-inning homer made it 3-0.
Hamilton received solo homers in the sixth from Ryan Wolfsberg and Andrew Haser and won the game in the seventh, when Cooper Halpern poked a two-run pinch-hit single.
John Bunting (1-4) tossed a complete game for Middlebury, allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings.
The Panthers won the nightcap, 12-6, breaking open a 3-3 game with a six-run seventh inning.
In the seventh inning, Araya made it 4-3 with a one-out solo homer. A Graf two-run triple made it 6-3. Coash plated Graf with a single, and Read capped the inning with a two-run double.
The Panthers got out of a jam in the seventh with an inning-ending double play after Hamilton had scored to make it 9-4. Middlebury tacked on three runs in the eighth. Araya scored on a bunt by MacDonald, and Brendon Donohue singled home two runs.
Hamilton scored twice in the eighth to make it 12-6, but Jake Stalcup tossed a scoreless ninth to secure the win.
Araya went four-for-four with two RBIs and two runs, and his first hit of the game was his 100th as a Panther. Read singled, doubled twice and drove in two runs, while Luke had three hits, drove in a run and scored twice.
MacDonald started and went five innings, allowing three runs on nine hits. Colin Waters (2-0) earned the win, working a scoreless sixth inning and allowed a lead-off walk in the seventh that scored. Stalcup allowed two runs over the final 2.2 innings and was credited with a save.
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