Review: Men’s baseball

Henry Gustavson ’24 pitches for the Panthers VAN BARTH

Men’s baseball (1–5) tallied its first win of the season this past weekend, splitting a double-header with Hamilton (4–7). While the Panthers were shut out in the first game, they captured the win in the second after a walk-off home run by Evan Hunter ’24.

The Panthers were unable to produce much offense in the first game, losing 11–0 as Hamilton’s pitcher completed a shutout. Middlebury tallied three hits in total with singles from Lucas Flemming ’24, Joseph Duran ‘24 and Tyler Leinan ’24. Starting pitcher Charlie Kutz ’24 struggled, giving up 10 runs (seven earned) and five walks.

The Panthers bounced back in the second game, though. Starting pitcher Henry Gustavson ’24 had his best outing of the season, going four innings and striking out two, giving up two runs (one earned) off four hits and one walk. 

“I felt like I did a much better job of getting ahead in the counts,” Gustavson said. “I tried to be aggressive right away. I only had two strikeouts, but I got into a lot of two strike counts that ended in outs so I was really happy about that.”

Gustavson was taken out after the Continentals tied the game at 2–2 after a double drove in an unearned run in the top of the fourth inning. In the bottom of the inning, after a single, a double and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, Jack Torpey ’24 doubled in two runs to retake the lead for the Panthers. A single by Hunter brought in two more runners, extending the Middlebury lead to 6–2 ahead of the fifth inning.

“He struck me out in the first at-bat, so I was looking to be aggressive in the next at-bat,” Torpey said about his fourth inning clutch hit. “I got a pitch I could hit and I got it pretty good.”

Hamilton’s offense revved to life in the sixth inning, scoring four runs to tie up the game. The score remained 6–6 until the bottom of the last inning, when Hunter led off the inning and took the game into his own hands.

“I had one approach for the first pitch: I’m only swinging if I see a fastball right in my zone which is what I got,” Hunter said about his at-bat in the bottom of the seventh. “After it went out, there was just that instant feeling of excitement knowing we just won our first game.”

With only 15 players currently on the roster — consisting exclusively of sophomores and first-years — the Panthers continued to prove that they can compete in the NESCAC despite their young complexion. 

Men’s baseball will conclude its regular season next Saturday, May 1, with a double-header against the red-hot Amherst College Mammoths (7–2). The action will begin at 1:30 p.m. in Amherst, Massachusetts.