Baseball Picks Up First Win, Drops Series


After opening the season 0-12, the Middlebury baseball team finally turned the corner this weekend, pulling in an 11-5 victory over Hamilton on Saturday, April 11. The Panthers went on to drop the series with a pair of losses to close out the weekend.

By Andrew Rigas

The Middlebury baseball team finally got off the schneid this weekend, defeating Hamilton 11-5 on Saturday, April 11 before losing the final two games of its home-opening series, 10-8 and 5-1.

In the Panthers’ home opener on Saturday, Eric Truss ’15 took the mound for Middlebury. Both teams went down in order in the first frame, but Hamilton threatened in the top half of the second before Truss was able to get out of the jam unscathed.

Middlebury’s bats exploded in the bottom half of the second to take a 5-0 lead. Back to back singles and a hit batter loaded the bases for John Luke ’16, who smacked a single off the pitcher’s leg and into left field for two runs.  A wild pitch scored Ryan Rizzo ’17, and Brendan Donohue ’18 added an exclamation point with a two-run double to right center to make the score 5-0 at the end of two.

The Panthers kept getting runners on base in the third as Jason Lock ’17 led off with a walk, Raj Palekar ’18 singled and Rizzo walked to load the bases. Luke knocked in another run and Johnny Read ’17 and Donohue both singled in runs. A double from Max Araya ’16, induced a Hamilton pitching change, and Dylan Sinnickson ’15, in his first game back from a hamstring injury, kept the pressure on, reaching first base on an error and scoring Araya for an 11-0 lead.Truss was dominant for much of the afternoon, allowing only three hits through six innings.

“I was able to locate my fastball and attack hitters in good areas,” Truss said. “I try to let hitters get themselves out and I’m fortunate enough to have a great defense out there to make all the plays behind me.”

Hamilton threatened to make a comeback in the top of the seventh, stringing six hits together to cut the lead to 11-5. With two outs and a runner on first, second baseman Donahue made a spectacular diving play to secure Middlebury’s first win of the season.

Araya and Donohue both had two base knocks while designated hitter Luke did his job driving in three runs to lead a well-balanced offensive effort. For most of the season, Middlebury’s hitting has done its job, and today Truss and the defense stepped up to the mound and field to give the team its first win.

“This was the first time we put it all together at the plate, in the field, and on the mound on the same day, and it was encouraging to show everybody what we’re capable of,” Truss said.

In the second game of the day, Cooper Byrne ’15 took the hill for the Panthers and conceded one run in the top half of the first. In the bottom of the second, Middlebury tied the game at one on a Hamilton miscue in the field after consecutive one-out singles by Rizzo and Joe MacDonald ’16.

Whether it was a matter of fatigue or something else, Byrne seemed to lose it in the third inning. He walked two batters, hit another and gave up four hits, including a two-run double that gave the Continentals a 7-1 lead.

Robert Erickson ’18 relieved Byrne in the fourth, and gave Coach Bob Smith five solid innings, conceding three runs while retiring five Hamilton hitters on strikes.

Down 10-1 with 2 outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, three Panthers walked to load the bases for MacDonald who ripped a base-clearing double down the left field line to make it a 10-4 game.

After Dylan Takamori ’17 retired the Continentals in order in the top half of the ninth, the Panthers loaded the bases again, this time with no outs. RBIs from Lock and Palekar cut the deficit to four. After a strikeout, Middlebury was down to its last out when Sinnickson hit a pinch-hit single to score two more and the score was 10-8. A Luke walk brought the winning run to the plate, but it wasn’t to be as Read grounded into a fielder’s choice, giving Hamilton the 10-8 victory in the second game of the series.

In their third game in two days and the rubber match between these NESCAC foes, the Panther bats did not have much pop against Hamilton’s Alex Pachella.

Pachella was the story of the game. After giving up two hits in the first two frames, he retired 16 in a row, and held a shutout going into the ninth. An Andrew Corcoran ’18 single scoring Lock ended Pachella’s shutout bid, but it wasn’t nearly enough as Hamilton took the game 5-1 and the series.

MacDonald was solid on the mound, scattering four runs over 7.1 innings, and Araya had another good day at the dish, leading the Panthers with two hits.

The team will play, weather permitting, Wesleyan at home this Friday and Saturday, April 17-18 in a three-game series.