Middlebury's Spencer Shores struck out 12 Hamilton batters in eight scoreless innings, as the Panthers earned a 3-0 victory Friday in their home opener on Forbes Field. The two teams conclude their three-game NESCAC West series tomorrow, playing a doubleheader with the first game starting at 11:00 a.m.
Shores and Hamilton starter Dan DePaoli locked up in a pitching duel from the start as the game remained scoreless through five innings. The best chance for either team to get on the scoreboard in the early going came in the fourth inning when Middlebury (7-10, 3-4) had a runner on second base with two outs. Raj Palekar drilled a fly ball to the gap in left-center field, but Hamilton center fielder Kenny Collins made a nice running catch at the fence to end the inning.
Shores was extremely sharp in the fifth and sixth innings, striking out four-straight Continental batters with two in each frame.
The hosts broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth, taking advantage of their speed. Ryan Rizzo legged out a double to left field and later moved to third on a fly ball to right. Sam Graf laced a sharp ground ball to shortstop that Jordan Northrup made a nice diving stop going to his right, but the Panther sped down the line to beat the throw to first for a 1-0 lead.
In the Middlebury half of the seventh, Alan Guild rocketed a ball to right-center field for his first collegiate home run and a 2-0 lead. The difference moved to 3-0 when Jason Lock dropped single into center field for his team-leading 20th RBI of the season, as Brooks Carroll crossed home plate.
Hamilton (10-10, 0-3) came close to scoring in the eight, but a potential run was cut down at the plate. Nate Goodman had a pinch-hit single and moved up to second on a ground out. Goodman was gunned down at the plate on a perfect relay from Graf in left field to Palekar, who fired a strike to catcher Phil Bernstein for the tag to end the inning.
Panther reliever Conor Himstead earned his third save of the season, retiring the side in the top of the ninth with three strikeouts.
Shores (2-0) pitched into the ninth inning, finishing with 12 strikeouts in eight-plus innings, allowing six hits and just one walk. DePaoli (2-3) had a strong outing for Hamilton, yielding the three runs on five hits with four strike outs in seven innings with Callum Slater tossing a scoreless eighth.
Rizzo went 2-3 with a run scored for Middlebury, while Guild was 1-2 with a home run and walk. For the Continentals, Ryan Wolfsberg was 2-4, while Collins reached base four times with two singles, a walk and being hit by a pitch.