Panther baseball pulls two 1-run wins

MIDDLEBURY — The Panther baseball team swept a three-game series vs. Bowdoin this past weekend, including two one-run victories, as Middlebury improved its record to 10-13, 2-4 in conference play.
Action at the Middlebury field started with a single game on Saturday. Panther Hayden Smith delivered a walk-off single with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, as the Panthers (8-13) collected an 11-10 win over the Polar Bears.
Bowdoin (11-14) opened the scoring in the top of the first inning, as Eric Mah touched home plate on a fielder’s choice by Jack Wilhoite for a 1-0 lead. Bowdoin added a second run one batter later when Connor Lee doubled, bringing home Joe Gentile. The visitors plated two more runs in the second.
Middlebury got its initial run in the bottom of the third, as Alan Guild drove in Justin Han with a single through the right side.
In the fourth, the Panthers tied the game with three more runs. Jake Dianno singled to right field, scoring Brooks Carroll to make it a 4-2 contest. Sam Graf lofted a deep sacrifice fly to center later in the inning, while the hosts tied the game at 4-4 when Hamilton Evans scored on a Polar Bear throwing error.
After Bowdoin reclaimed the lead at 5-4 in the fifth when Gentile walked with the bases loaded, the hosts scored three times in the bottom half of the frame. Carroll singled home Guild, and Grant Elgarten scored when a Polar Bear outfielder bobbled the ball. The Panthers made it 7-5 an infield hit by Evans, scoring Carroll.
Middlebury took a four-run lead in the sixth on an RBI double by Smith and a sacrifice fly to left field by Elgarten for a 9-5 edge.
Bowdoin got a run back in the seventh and two more in the eighth, closing the gap to a one at 9-8, but the hosts countered with a run in the bottom of the inning; the score was 10-8.
The Polar Bears tied the game in the ninth. Owen Gideon-Murphy opened the inning with a double and later scored on a base hit to left field by Mah, while Brendan O’Neill dropped a single into shallow center field, scoring Mah to make the score 10-10.
The hosts loaded the bases with one out in the last of the ninth and came away with the victory when Smith’s sharp single to left field brought Evans home.
Smith finished the game going 3-6 with two RBI, while Carroll went 3-5 with a pair of runs scored. Han and Guild added to the offense with two hits each. Conor Himstead (1-0) earned the win in relief, while Justin Legowski (3.2 innings) and Colin Waters (3.0) also saw time out of the bullpen.
Six different Polar Bears finished the game with two hits, while Lee drove in three runs and Mah scored three times. Wilhoite (0-1) suffered the loss, while starter Colby Lewis and reliever Brandon Lopez each three four innings.
Middlebury used a walk-off hit for the second day in a row during Sunday’s first game, followed by a complete-game shutout from Robert Erickson in the nightcap for a sweep of Bowdoin. The Panthers took game one by a 5-4 count, and completed the sweep of the three-game weekend series with a 3-0 triumph in the second contest.
In the first game, Bowdoin jumped out to the early lead, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first. Brendan O’Neil gave the Polar Bears a 1-0 lead with a single through the right side, while Jack Wilhoite doubled the advantage with a line drive single to center field, scoring Joe Gentile.
Middlebury needed only one swing of the bat to knot the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the second, as Sebastian Sanchez singled up the middle with the bases loaded to plate a pair of runs.
Bowdoin reclaimed the lead in the top of the sixth, taking advantage a pair of Panther miscues. The Polar Bears added a run in the top of the seventh.
The Panthers rallied in their half of the seventh, plating three runs to win in walk-off fashion for the second-straight game.
Jack Miller (2-0) earned the pitching win, while starter Colby Morris went 6.2 strong innings.
In the nightcap, Erickson improved to 2-2 with his first complete of the spring. The tall righty allowed just four hits over the seven innings, striking out four.
After a scoreless first, Jake Dianno got the Panthers on the board in the bottom of the second, smacking the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence for his first career home run.
Middlebury tacked on two insurance runs in the home half of the sixth with two outs.
The Panthers’ game vs. Plattsburgh on Wednesday was postponed. The Middlebury nine will head to Hamilton this Friday and Saturday for a three-game NESCAC West series. They will also host Trinity for a doubleheader on Sunday at 1 p.m.

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