Baseball Secures First NESCAC Wins of Year

By Fritz Parker

The Middlebury baseball team got back on the winning track this weekend, pulling out a series win over Hamilton. The Panthers split a doubleheader with the Continentals on Saturday, April 12 before riding their bats to a win in the rubber match on Sunday, April 13.

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead in the series opener on Saturday, following up a three-run first inning with a five-run second that featured a two-run double from catcher Max Araya ’16. The Continentals were able to force extra innings by scoring four runs in the seventh, but Middlebury rallied again in the top of the eighth to secure the series-opening win.

Third baseman Joe MacDonald ’16 led the Panthers in the win, going 2-4 with three RBIs, including a two-run home run in the decisive eighth inning. First baseman Jason Lock ’17 added a pair of RBIs while going 2-5, while shortstop Johnny Read ’17 reached base three times for Middlebury.

Starter Cooper Byrne ’15 allowed four runs over five innings while earning the no decision, striking out three and walking four. Jake Stalcup ’17 tossed two runs of scoreless ball in relief to earn the win for Middlebury.

In Saturday’s shortened game, RBI singles from Danny Andrada ’15 and MacDonald gave the Panthers a two-run lead through the fifth inning. Meanwhile, Middlebury starter Eric Truss ’15 was dominant through five innings, allowing just three hits while striking out three.

Truss was able to strike out the first two Continentals he faced in the sixth before allowing a string of hits that included a pair of two-run home runs. The problems were exacerbated by some shoddy defense, an area that the Panthers’ have improved in markedly since returning from Arizona.

By the inning’s end, Truss had allowed seven earned runs before being pulled by Coach Bob Smith. The Panthers were unable to respond in the top of the seventh, and went on to lose by a final score of 7-2.

Alex Kelly ’14 went 2-4 with a pair of doubles in the leadoff spot to pace the Panthers.

Back in action for Sunday’s rubber match, the Panthers looked to junior Logan Mobley ’15 for a quality start as they fished for their first series win of the 2014 season. Mobley did not disappoint, tossing five innings of shutout ball while yielding only one hit, striking out three and walking four.

The Panther bats also came alive in the series finale, with Kelly singling home Garrett Werner ’16 before reaching home on a wild pitch to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead after two. After adding a run in the third, Matt Leach ’15 hit a two-run single to cap a four-run fourth inning that stretched the Panther lead.

Senior Dylan Kane ’14 came on to relieve Mobley in the bottom of the sixth, where he retired the side.

MacDonald hit his second home run of the weekend in the top of the seventh to help the Panthers to a 10-0 lead. Kane yielded three runs over the game’s final three innings, but it was too little too late for the Continentals. Middlebury took the game 10-3 to win the series over Hamilton, while Kane earned the save by tossing the final four innings.

Lock went 3-6 with a double on Sunday, while MacDonald contributed three RBIs and Leach contributed two to the win.

The Panthers host their first home series of the year this weekend against division rival Amherst. The opener will be played on Friday afternoon, April 18 before the series wraps up with a doubleheader on Saturday.

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