Middlebury's Sam Graf smacked two home runs on Thursday afternoon at Forbes Field, leading the Panthers to an 8-1 victory over in-state foe St. Michael's (1-16). Middlebury (10-10) returns to action on Saturday when it hosts Wesleyan in a NESCAC West doubleheader starting at 12:00 p.m., while the Purple Knights play a twinbill at Merrimack at the same time.
The Panthers got on the board with a pair of runs in the home half of the first inning. With one out, Brooks Carroll singled to left and scored on Graf's homer to dead center field.
St. Michael's threatened in the top of the second when Harry Southworth walked and moved to third on a double down the right-field line. With runners on second and third and two outs, the Purple Knights' Matt Downing laced a ball headed toward the gap in right center, but Graf made a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch in the gap to end the inning.
The visitors tallied their lone run in the top of the third. With two down, Joe Robertson walked and stole second base. He raced around to touch home on an RBI single to right center off the bat of Sean Winthrop, cutting the Middlebury lead to 2-1.
The score remained that way until the fifth when the Panthers scored a pair. Sebastian Sanchez reached on an error to the start the frame, moving to second on a bunt single from Jake Turtel. Carroll walked to load the bases, before Jason Lock hit a two-run single to right center for his team-leading 23rd and 24th RBI of the season.
The Panthers added three in the sixth on an RBI single by Gray Goolsby, who later scored on a wild pitch. A few batters later, a single up the middle from Hayden Smith made it a 7-1 game, bringing home Turtel, who was hit by a pitch.
Middlebury rounded out the scoring in the home half of the seventh with Graf's second round-tripper of the contest. He lifted a 1-1 pitch over the left-center field fence for the sixth of his career.
Graf went 2-4 in the contest with three RBI and a pair of runs scored, while Turtel was 1-3 with two runs. Dylan Takamori got the start for Middlebury and pitched the first two innings. Four additional pitchers for the Panthers saw action on the mound, including Grant Elgarten (1-0), who was credited with his first collegiate victory. He struck out four and walked just one in his two innings of relief.
Five different Purple Knights recorded hits at the plate in the contest. Patrick Martin (0-3) got the start on the mound, going 4.1 innings while allowing four runs (three earned) and five hits. Four more hurlers for the visitors took to the mound over the final 3.2 innings.