Panther baseball wins more than loses

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College baseball team reached the 20-win plateau for the first time since 2006 with two wins in three recent non-league games.
The Panthers are 20-14 and finished at 8-4 in NESCAC West play under first-year Coach Mike Becker. They will head to Colby this weekend for the NESCAC Final Four as the top seed between the two NESCAC West teams; Amherst (19-14, 8-4 league) is the other. Tufts (26-7-1, 9-3 NESCAC East) and Bates (15-15, 7-5) will be the NESCAC East representatives.
The winner of the double elimination tournament will receive the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.
The Panthers earned their 20th win on Sunday, when they split a doubleheader with Tufts, ranked No. 11 in NCAA D-III. Middlebury won the opener, 4-0, and Tufts took the nightcap, 6-1.
In the opener Justin Han belted his team-leading fourth home run in the fifth to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Kevin Woodring delivered a two-out, three-run double in the seventh to make it 4-0.
Colby Morris (5-3) earned his team-leading fifth victory, scattering five hits over six innings with two strikeouts, and Conor Himstead came on in the bottom of the seventh to close out the win.
Tufts pitcher Speros Varinos (8-1) suffered his first loss of the season, giving up just one hit, Han’s homer, in five innings. 
In the nightcap, Grant Elgarten reached on an error in the third and then scored on an outfield miscue on a Phil Bernstein single for the only Panther run, which tied the game at the time.
But Tufts scored six runs, one earned, off Panther pitcher Colin Waters (2-3) in four innings, to earn the win. Waters allowed four hits and struck out four.
Han and Raj Palekar each finished with two hits for Middlebury, while Tim Superko improved to 6-0 for Tufts, allowing only the unearned run in six innings.
On Saturday, the Panthers scored six runs in the fourth inning in an 11-4 win at Bowdoin shortened to five innings by rain. A planned second game was canceled.
The Panthers fell behind, 4-2, despite early runs coming on Kevin Woodring’s RBI grounder and Bernstein’s run-scoring double, the first of his three hits.
Middlebury erased Bowdoin’s lead with their big fourth inning. Woodring doubled in the first run, and Grant followed with a two-run single. Brooks Carroll made it 6-4 with an infield hit, and Sam Graf capped the inning with a two-run double.
The Panthers tacked on their final three runs in the fifth. Bernstein plated a pair with a double, and Ryan Rizzo scored him with sacrifice fly.
Dylan Takamori (2-0) earned the victory with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief. Spencer Shores got the start and allowed four runs on five hits in 2.2 innings.
The Panthers’ Tuesday game at Castleton was canceled. 

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