Panthers Drop Two Close Games in Arizona

Ryan Rizzo went 5-10 with three runs scored and a RBI in Sunday's two games.
Ryan Rizzo went 5-10 with three runs scored and a RBI in Sunday's two games.

The Middlebury baseball team led late in both of its games on Sunday in Arizona, but each time the opposition rallied as the Panthers dropped a pair of contests. Grinnell scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning for a 7-6 victory over Middlebury, while Gustavus Adolphus plated seven runs in its final two at bats for a 10-8 win. The Panthers (2-4) face the Gusties again on Monday at 2:00 p.m.

In game one, the Pioneers (6-7) grabbed the early lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run single by Matt Hammond. Grinnell added another run in the second frame, before the Panthers got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth with two runs. Drew Coash drove in the team's first run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, while Grant Elgarten lofted a fly ball to right field to make the score 3-2.

The Pioneers scored twice in the sixth, but Middlebury came right back in the seventh with a run. Ryan Rizzo doubled to right field, scoring Brooks Carroll to make it a 5-3 game.

In the eighth, the Panthers pushed three runs across, while taking their first lead of the contest. Jason Lock started the inning with a walk and later scored on a throw after a base hit by Elgarten. Gray Goolsby came through with a clutch two-run double to left field, giving Middlebury a 6-5 advantage.

In the home half of the inning, Grinnell's Niko Takayesu and Andrew Shults both scored on a Panther miscue for a 7-6 lead.

Ben Biversie (2-0), who earned the win for the Pioneers in two innings of relief, allowed the lead-off batter to reach base in the ninth, but closed the door retiring the final three Panther batters. Elgarten went the first 3.1 innings for the Panthers on the mound, allowing three runs on two hits. Andrew Martinson tossed 3.2 innings of relief, while Jake Stalcup (0-1) suffered the loss throwing the eighth inning.

Middlebury finished with six hits as Rizzo and Goolsby each hit a double. Lock earned a pair of walks at the plate and scored twice. Shults was 2-3 for the Pioneers, while Hammond was 1-2 and three RBI.

In the nightcap against Gustavus Adolphus (7-3), the Gusties plated single runs in each of the first two innings for a 2-0 lead. Middlebury cut the difference in half in the top of the third when Rizzo raced home on a base hit by Lock.

The Panthers used a three-run fourth inning to grab a 4-2 lead, with Sam Graf plating a run via a single and Lock bringing in two more with a double to left field.

Gustavus Adolphus cut the score to 4-3 in the fifth inning, but Middlebury regained its two-run lead in the seventh. Lock tripled and touched home plate two batters later on a single by Andrew Hennings.

The Gusties broke through for five runs in the bottom of the seventh, claiming an 8-5 lead. They added two more runs in the eighth, but the Panthers kept fighting. Middlebury scored twice in the top of the ninth when Hayden Smith delivered a two-run double to center field making it a 10-8 game. Jason Braun (1-1) recorded the final out to secure the win for the Gusties.

Lock had a big game at the plate with three hits and three RBI. Rizzo went 4-5 with a double, while Hennings added three hits and a RBI.

For the Gusties, Josh Chatfield went 3-4 with a home run, a double, two RBI and a walk, Nolan Lepel added two hits and drove in four runs.

Middlebury starter Robert Erickson had a strong outing, going six innings and allowing three runs (two earned) and came away with a no decision. Justin Legowski (0-1) took the loss for the Panthers, giving up five runs in one inning, but only one of those runs was earned.