The Middlebury baseball team (3-2, 0-0) improved its non-conference record to 3-2, after a three-win week facing Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on March 14 (3-4, 0-0) followed by a three-game series against Emory University (7-8, 0-0) on Saturday, March 16 and Sunday, March 17.
Last Thursday, the Panthers showed up on the road against Rensselaer. They rallied for 11 late runs to ease past the Engineers despite a silent first two innings. The game ended up finishing early by the eighth inning because of darkness.
Middlebury blew the game open in the seventh inning, scoring seven runs on just six hits. The squad found 12 hits with five players rounding out the frame with two hits each: right fielder Justin Han ’20, center fielder Henry Strmecki ’21, third baseman Hayden Smith ’20, second baseman Andrew Gough ’22 and left fielder Sam Graf ’19. The team also totaled eight stolen bases.
In his first collegiate start, first-year pitcher Alex Rosario gave up just one run on no hits. Rosario lasted for three innings, and was followed by pitcher George Goldstein ’21 (1-0), who ultimately managed to pick up the win. Goldstein allowed one run on two hits over three innings.
The Panthers also closed out a three-game series against Emory in Atlanta. Middlebury, unaffected by the travel, opened up the fight with a doubleheader sweep, followed by a loss on Sunday. On Saturday, Middlebury totaled 26 runs over the two meetings, beating the Eagles 10-5 and 16-5.
According to pitcher Spencer Shores ’20, this week’s success came from the ability to capitalize on Rensselaer’s and Emory’s mistakes.
“We were able to steal bases and take advantage of walks and errors to score runs,” Shores said. “Our pitching was effective in throwing strikes and being aggressive at hitters, putting our pitchers in advantageous counts to get outs.”
Smith and shortstop Brooks Carroll ’20 led the team during the doubleheader with four runs and four RBIs respectively in each game, including a home run from Carroll. Sophomore pitcher Bobby Sullivan (1-0) managed to capture the win with three innings of relief. Sullivan’s performance limited the Eagles to no runs and just one hit with a pair of strikeouts.
On Sunday, the Panthers fell to the Eagles 8-2 after Emory jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning.
According to Shores, Middlebury gave up too many free opportunities in the field, pitching and hitting.
“Overall, the team played well but miscues in timely situations — whether that be walks, errors, or outs at bat — put us in a tough position to win the game,” Shores said. “Emory’s pitcher was also a very talented and was able to pitch effectively late into the game.”
This week has provided Middlebury with valuable on field experiences the team has lacked at home due to the icy Vermont weather.
“We have proven to ourselves our ability to compete against quality baseball teams,” Shores said. “Emory has gone to the College World Series three of the past five years. Our coaching staff and players have been able to better access what roles individuals need to fill for our success as the season continues.”
The Panthers return to the diamond for their Spring Break trip in Florida beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 23 for a doubleheader versus Lawrence University (1-5, 0-0). Middlebury will play a total of 10 games, including its first NESCAC matchup in a three-game series against Hamilton College (4-1, 0-0).