Baseball to Host Amherst, Hoping to Rebound from Wesleyan Sweep

The+baseball+team+sets+their+sights+on+Amherst%2C+whom+they+will+host+for+a+three-game+series+this+weekend%2C+Friday+and+Saturday%2C+13+and+14%2C+at+Forbes+Field.
The baseball team sets their sights on Amherst, whom they will host for a three-game series this weekend, Friday and Saturday, 13 and 14, at Forbes Field.

The baseball team sets their sights on Amherst, whom they will host for a three-game series this weekend, Friday and Saturday, 13 and 14, at Forbes Field.

David Goldstein

David Goldstein

The baseball team sets their sights on Amherst, whom they will host for a three-game series this weekend, Friday and Saturday, 13 and 14, at Forbes Field.

By JENNY LANGERMAN

Last week, Middlebury baseball hit the road to take on the Wesleyan in the Panthers’ second Nescac series of the season. The previous week’s strong performance, in which the Panthers took two out of three from Williams, gave the team a boost of confidence going into the series. Unfortunately, it seems the Panthers were not able to channel the same fierceness and their high morale into last week’s games, as the Cardinals broke out the brooms.

The series kicked off with a doubleheader on Saturday, April 7, during which the Cardinals took a 1–0 lead right off the bat in the first inning. Middlebury was able to hold the Cardinals for the remainder of the game with strong defensive play on the mound from junior captain Colby Morris ’19, who managed to throw out eight Cardinals and let up only one run on four hits. The Panthers found little luck at the plate though, tallying 10 strikeouts and zero hits.

Errors and walks killed any shot the Panthers had in the second game of the series. The second inning was especially bad, as the Cardinals scored six of their 12 runs, registering only one hit in the process. The Panthers put up a strong fight, scoring four in the seventh inning and then four in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to overtake the Cardinals, and the game ended in a 12–8 loss for the Panthers. Sam Graf ’19, Brendan Donahue ’18, Henry Strmecki ’21 and Gray Goolsby ’20 all got on base and scored for Middlebury, and both Justin Han ’20 and Brooks Carroll ’20 finished with a pair of runs.

Will Oppenheim ’21 took a hard loss on the mound, letting up the six runs in the second inning. “I really need to be able to repeat my mechanics more so I can throw more strikes and go deeper into games and walk fewer people,” Oppenheim said.

However, this performance will likely be only a small bump in the road for Oppenheim. In his short time playing at the college level, the first-year currently sports a 3.14 ERA and 13 strikeouts, third only to captains Morris and Rob Erikson ’18, who have fanned 30 and 14, respectively.

Sunday’s get-out-of-town game brought a similar outcome for the Panthers. The Cardinals were again the first to score, putting up an impressive seven runs in the first inning. They then tacked on two more in the third and another in the seventh. Middlebury seemed to answer, scoring six runs by the end of the sixth inning, but they were not able to come back and fell 10–6.

According to Han, the team was well aware of Wesleyan’s skill going into the series and took measures to prepare for the challenge.

“We had scouting reports for Wesleyan’s pitchers to prepare for the weekend. We knew their guys would throw a lot of balls and [that] we would need to be selective at the plate,” Han said. The Panthers tried not to concern themselves too much with the other team’s past success, however.

“We just focused on playing our game,” explained Morris.

Understandably, the team’s vibe coming off this tough series was starkly different from that of the previous week’s games.

“Mentally we were confident after playing Williams and had faith in our lineup top to bottom,” said Morris — a readiness echoed by Han.

“We were very confident after a strong performance against Williams the previous weekend,” Han said. “We were prepared and ready to compete.”

Morris attributes the difference in last week’s performance to a lack of fire.“We didn’t play the whole series with confidence,” said Morris, who added, “we found ourselves on our heels, especially early on in games one and two.”

Despite this, he remains extremely positive and optimistic about what the future holds for the Panthers.

“We aren’t stoked with where we are, but that just makes us hungrier for the next game,” Morris said. “For whatever reason we like being the underdog, and we find ourselves in that familiar place again. People are going to doubt us after we doubted ourselves at times this past weekend, but it’s a privilege to play this game. So, regardless of our position, our mentality is for them to bring it on.”

Additionally, the team still has their sights set on winning the Nescac championship.

“We will not let a single win or loss deter us from our goal,” a determined Han declared.

After this week’s midweek action (barring weather), the Panthers host Amherst tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. for the first of three-game set.

“I think playing at home will be a huge advantage this week. Traveling definitely takes a toll on us, so being home this weekend will be nice,” Oppenheim said.

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Baseball to Host Amherst, Hoping to Rebound from Wesleyan Sweep