Panther baseball finishes NESCAC play at .500
MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College baseball team won the final game of a three-game set with visiting NESCAC West foe Amherst this past weekend to keep its playoff hopes alive.
The Panthers (9-15 overall) concluded their NESCAC West schedule with a 6-6 mark and need help to make the league’s postseason: Amherst (19-8 overall, 6-3 league) must sweep visiting Wesleyan (5-4 league) this weekend, and visiting Hamilton (3-6) must take at least one game from host Williams (4-5 league) for the Panthers to make the playoffs.
Wesleyan owns the tiebreaker with Middlebury, but Middlebury owns the tiebreaker with Williams. The top two teams from the NESCAC East and West Divisions make the postseason tournament, with the winner earning an NCAA Division III berth.
The Panthers host Trinity for two games beginning at noon this Saturday.
On this past Saturday, the Panthers dropped the opener of a doubleheader to Amherst, 8-7, but won the nightcap, 6-5.
The Panthers took a 7-1 lead in the opener with four runs in the first inning and two in the second, but could not hold on. In the first, singles by Jake Turtel and Garrett Werner, a double by John Luke, a hit batter, a walk and a Phil Bernstein sacrifice fly plated the four runs.
In the second, an error and a walk preceded a Max Araya RBI single and Brendan Donohue’s two-run triple.
Amherst got two solo homers in the fifth and erupted for five runs on seven hits in the sixth to rally for the win.
John Bunting (1-5) took the loss for Middlebury, giving up seven runs, six earned, and 12 hits in five-plus innings with four strikeouts and two walks. Dylan Takamori gave up a run and three hits in the sixth, and Donohue pitched a scoreless seventh.
Middlebury took a 3-0 lead in the second game on a two-run single by Johnny Read and a bases-loaded walk to Luke. Amherst got single runs in the third and fifth to make it 3-2. The Panthers added a run in the sixth on a Joe MacDonald double and Raj Palekar’s RBI single.
Amherst plated two unearned runs in the sixth to tie the game at 4-4. Middlebury answered when Luke singled and MacDonald doubled him home in the bottom of the inning.
After Amherst knotted the score in the eighth, Middlebury took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning on a walk to Werner and singles by Luke and Araya.
Amherst put runners on first and second in the ninth, but Donohue got out of the jam to earn his second save of the year. MacDonald (2-1) threw a gem in his longest outing of the season, allowing just one earned run on eight hits with three walks and three strikeouts in eight innings.
On Friday, Amherst took the opener, 5-0, as Jackson Volle (6-0) tossed a complete-game six-hit shutout with three strikeouts, lowering his league-leading ERA to 1.10.
Donohue went three-for-three for the Panthers, while Werner doubled and singled and Luke doubled. Colby Morris (2-3) took the loss for Middlebury in his second complete game of the spring, allowing five runs, three earned, on 15 hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
Tuesday’s scheduled game with Skidmore was postponed until Thursday due to weather. The Panthers were also scheduled to visit Plymouth State on Wednesday.
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