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The Middlebury Campus

Baseball Bound for Battle at Nescacs

By JORDAN HOWELL

The baseball team is sitting pretty at 20-14 after winning against Bowdoin on Saturday, May 6, and splitting a doubleheader against Tufts on Sunday, May 7. Against Bowdoin, the Panthers managed to get five innings in before it began to pour. Bowdoin took an early one-run lead in the bottom of the first, but Middlebury was quick to respond with two runs. Kevin Woodring ’20 knocked Justin Han ’20, who had reached on a single. Phil Bernstein ’19 increased the lead 2-1 after he scorched a line-drive double into right field scoring Woodring. The Polar Bears clawed back knotting the score at 2-2 and tacked on another two runs in the bottom of the third giving the hosts a 4-2 advantage.

But Middlebury exploded for six runs in the fourth inning. Woodring plated the first run on with an RBI double to left field, while Grant Elgarten ’20 hit a two-run single to take a 5-4 lead. Brooks Carroll ’20 bunted down the first base line, beating the pitcher to the base and scoring Elgarten. Sam Graf ’19 capped off the inning with a 360 foot shot that hit the top of the fence, scoring two more.

The hosts were unable to muster a response as Middlebury scored three more at the top of the fifth. Bernstein, who finished the game going a perfect 3-3 with two doubles and three RBI’s, hit the second of his two doubles scoring two runs giving the visitors a 10-4 lead. Ryan Rizzo ’17 scored the final run of the game on a sac-fly.

Dylan Takamori ’17 took over after Spencer Shores ’20 struggled, allowing four runs on five hits. Takamori earned the win with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.

The Panthers improved to 19-13 and headed down to Boston, Mass. for a two-game series against Tufts University.

“If we can just get one guy on, we can make the opposing pitcher feel some pressure which allows us to then capitalize on his mistakes,” Bernstein said about the team’s batting rhythm.

“Once we get a rally started, it’s pretty hard for opposing teams to get us out, and has led to some pretty big innings this season.”

On Sunday, May 7, Middlebury split with the no. 11 nationally ranked Tufts Jumbos. The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth inning when Han came up to the plate and blasted a 340–foot opposite field home run to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Although Tufts loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, starter Colby Morris ’19 got out of the jam without allowing any runs. Middlebury tacked on three insurance runs in the top of the seventh when Woodring hit a bases clearing double into the right-field gap. Conor Himstead ’19, who leads the NESCAC with six saves, retired the Jumbos batters to secure the win.

In the nightcap, although the Panthers lost 6-1, they out hit the Jumbos 6-4. Colin Waters ’19 suffered the loss, but he will undoubtedly be back for redemption in the NESCAC playoffs.

“The feeling was awesome,” Woodring said of the win earlier that day. “As a team, we’ve been trying to compete in every game we’ve played in and it was great to get a win like that today. We couldn’t have been happier with a win today, especially against a high caliber team like Tufts.”

The team feels optimistic as they head into postseason play.

“We’re focused, having fun, and playing relaxed,” said Bernstein. “As a result, we’re playing our best brand of baseball right now and that’s exactly what we need as we head into the NESCAC tournament this weekend.”

“We are playing like a team ready to win a NESCAC championship,” Sebastian Sanchez ’18 added. “Our energy, our focus and our determination is truly out of this world. We have trusted the process and it has paid off. Midd Baseball is hot, watch out.”

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