Baseball Earns NESCAC West Split at Amherst

Jason Lock went 3-6 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored during Saturday's twinbill.
Jason Lock went 3-6 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored during Saturday's twinbill.

The Middlebury baseball team split a pair of games at Amherst (6-8, 1-2) on Saturday, falling in game one 3-1 before taking the nightcap by a score of 6-2. The Panthers (5-9, 2-4) take the three-game NESCAC West series, 2-1. Middlebury returns to action on Sunday with a pair of games at Curry.

Middlebury's Ryan Rizzo logged the first highlight of the contest, recording the third out of the second inning for the Panthers after chasing down a deep fly ball by Severino Tocci in center field and making an athletic catch at the fence.

The Panthers scored their only run of the game in the top of the third. Rizzo started off the inning with a single down the left-field line, before stealing second and moving over to third on a ground out. Jason Lock followed with a hard line drive to right center for a sacrifice fly, plating Rizzo.

Amherst responded in the bottom of the frame when Chase Henley blasted a leadoff homerun over the left-field wall to deadlock the score at 1-1. Amherst claimed its first lead of the game two batters later following a Max Steinhorn single and steal, before Ryan Hardin sent a double just out of the reach of the diving left fielder to plate Steinhorn.

The Mammoths added an insurance run in the fourth. Anthony Spina was hit by a pitch and Nick Nardone singled to right, putting runners at first and second. Tocci drove home Spina with a single to left center to give the home team a 3-1 lead.

Neither side sent a runner home in the final three innings, with the last play of note coming in the bottom of the sixth as Panther second baseman Hayden Smith made a leaping catch in shallow center field to Rob Nardone of a base hit.

Steinhorn led the Mammoths going 2-3 at the dish and scored a run. Ryan, Tocci and Henley registered the RBI for Amherst, with Hardin going 1-3 and Tocci and Henley each finishing 1-2 at the plate.

Rizzo was 2-4 with a run scored for Middlebury, while Lock notched the lone RBI for the Panthers.

Both starting pitchers tossed complete games, with Jackson Volle (3-0) giving up just five hits and an earned run while striking out eight. Colby Morris (1-3) took the loss for Middlebury, allowing three earned runs, while whiffing two.

Capitalizing in its first at bat, Amherst made it a 1-0 game three hitters into game two. Steinhorn sent a single up the middle before stealing second and moving over to third on an infield hit by Hardin. Roberson scored Steinhorn with a sacrifice fly to left.

Middlebury knotted the score at 1-1 in the second, loading the bases behind a single, walk and another single. With two outs, Rizzo sent a hard ground ball to the left of second base to force an error on the play, as all four Panthers safely advanced.

The sides traded runs in the third. Phil Bernstein notched a single to left center to plate Lock for the Panthers, while Nardone drove in a run with a bases-loaded fielder's choice to plate Roberson for the Mammoths.

In the seventh, Sam Graf tallied an infield single and advanced to second on an error before moving over to third on a wild pitch. He crossed the plate a batter later when Lock launched a sacrifice fly to right field to set the score at 3-2 in favor of Middlebury.

The Panthers tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth. Lock, Justin Han and Bernstein logged RBI for Middlebury, recording a double, single and single, respectively.

Sam Schneider tossed 6.0 innings and allowed one earned run and six hits, while striking out nine for Amherst. Chris Baldi (0-1) suffered the loss in relief.

Colin Waters (1-1) pitched 7.1 innings in the winning effort for Middlebury, giving up two earned runs and striking out two, while Conor Himstead closed out the contest, allowing no hits with a pair of strikeouts in the final 1.2 innings.