Panther baseball to vie for league championship
AMHERST, Mass. — The Middlebury College baseball team took two out of three games from host Amherst this past weekend to clinch a berth in the NESCAC tournament.
The Panthers also dropped a non-league game to Castleton on Sunday, 4-3, to finish the regular season at 23-11, 7-5 in league play.
They earned the No. 2 NESCAC West seed for the double elimination league tournament, which Colby will host between this Friday and Sunday. Middlebury will open by facing NESCAC East No. 1 seed Tufts at 6 p.m. on Friday, while West No. 1 Williams and East No. 2 Bates open the tournament with a 2:30 game.
On this past Friday Middlebury defeated Amherst (16-4-1, 6-6 NESCAC West), 6-4 in 10 innings in the opener of the three-game set.
With the game tied at 3-3 entering the 10th inning, Amherst brought in its top reliever, Mike Dow. Sam Graf led off with a walk, Henry Strmecki reached on a bunt single and Brooks Carroll walked to load the bases with one out. Gray Goolsby drew a bases-loaded walk and Dow hit Hayden Smith with a pitch to force in two runs, and Justin Han hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-3.
Panther reliever George Goldstein allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the inning, but with the winning run at the plate retired the final two batters for his third save of the season. Colby Morris earned the pitching win, his school record 18th, by allowing three runs over nine innings and striking out six.
Andrew Hennings drove in the first Panther run with a third-inning grounder; singles by Han, Henning and Graf made it 2-0 in the fifth; and in the seventh Han walked, Hennings and Alec Ritch singled, and Graf hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. Amherst’s Joseph Palmo tied the game with a three-run homer in the eighth. Hennings finished with four hits.
On Saturday the teams split a doubleheader. The Panthers won the opener, 2-1, as Alex Price (4-2) went 6.2 innings, allowing just one run on four hits with five strikeouts. Andrew Martinson earned the save.
Amherst took the lead in the second inning, but the Panthers tied the game in the third, when Hayden Smith singled, stole second and scored on a Hennings single. The Panthers scored the winning run in the fourth with a two-out rally. Alec Ritch singled, stole second, and scored on a Phil Bernstein hit.
In the nightcap, the Mammoths claimed a 6-5 victory. They took an early 3-0 lead, but two-run singles by Strmecki and Andrew Gough in the fourth put the Panthers on top. Amherst regained the lead on Panther miscues, but Alan Gould doubled for Middlebury in the eighth and scored on a passed ball to tie the game. Amherst pushed across the winning run in the ninth off Goldstein.
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