Panther baseball falls in NESCAC title game

WATERVILLE, Maine — Tufts defeated the Middlebury College baseball team, 8-3, on Sunday at Colby College in the winner-take-all title game of the NESCAC double-elimination playoff tournament.
The 26-13 Panthers, the NESCAC West No. 2 seed, had emerged from the losers’ bracket after falling to NESCAC East No. 1 Tufts, 5-0, in Saturday’s tournament opener. They defeated NESCAC East No. 2 Bates, 10-1, on Saturday, and then NESCAC East No. 1 Williams, 8-2, and Tufts, 12-8, on Sunday to force the winner-take-all final.
The Panthers’ 26 wins tied the program record for victories set by the 2006 program, but they did not match that team’s feat of earning an NCAA berth. Tufts (29-9) earned the NESCAC’s automatic NCAA bid, and the Panthers did not receive an at-large bid on Monday.
In Sunday’s final, the Jumbos jumped on the board in the second inning with four runs, including Ryan Day’s two-run homer. Middlebury scored two in the third on singles by Brooks Carroll and Justin Han, two errors and a fielder’s choice, but Tufts added two more in the fourth and another in the sixth to make it 7-2. Middlebury scored one in the seventh on a Carroll double and a Han sacrifice fly, but could come no closer.
Playing its fifth game in two days, the Panthers used five pitchers. Starter Bobby Sullivan (2-2) took the loss, giving up four runs and five hits over 1.1 innings. Andrew Martinson threw two scoreless innings. Han led Middlebury with three hits, and Carroll and Han had two apiece. Spencer Langdon picked up the win for Tufts, giving up one earned run on five hits over six innings.
In Sunday’s first game vs. Tufts Panthers pounded out 18 hits, three by Strmecki, who homered and drove in four runs. Graf added three hits, two RBIs, two runs scored and a pair of walks;  Andrew Hennings and Gray Goolsby each doubled and singled twice; and Smith singled twice and scored three runs. Middlebury led by 12-4 before Tufts scored four in the bottom of the ninth.
Jackson Atwood picked up his first career win, allowing four runs on six hits over 5.1 innings. George Goldstein pitched the final 3.2 innings to earn his fourth save of the season.
In Sunday’s 8-2 win over Williams, Han singled in a run in the third, and the Panthers struck for five runs on five hits in the third. Gray Goolsby doubled, Hayden Smith tripled in two runs, and Andrew Gough, Carroll and Han singled. In the sixth the Panther made it 7-0 on a Henry Strmecki single and Smith double. After Williams closed to 7-2, Middlebury made it 8-2 in the eighth on a Gough double and Han single.
Alex Rosario earned the win by allowing two runs on five hits over seven innings with eight strikeouts. 
In Sunday’s 10-1 win over Bates, Middlebury struck for four runs on three hits in the bottom of the second. Graf and Smith walked and Strmecki singled to load the bases before Carroll singled in two runs and Han doubled home two more.
Middlebury blew the game open in the eighth with six more runs on four hits. Han and stole two bases before scoring on a Graf single. Walks and singles by Strmecki and Smith and a three-run double by Carroll made it 10-1. Alex Price (5-2) picked up the win by allowing one run on six hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts. 
In Tufts’ opening 5-0 win on Saturday Jumbo ace R.J. Hall improved to 7-0 by striking out 10 and allowing four hits in a complete-game effort. Panther ace Colby Morris (5-3) allowed five runs on seven hits over eight innings with four strikeouts.

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