Panthers Fall to Southern Vermont in Home Opener

Grant Elgarten was 2-3 with a two-run homer in Tuesday's contest.
Grant Elgarten was 2-3 with a two-run homer in Tuesday's contest.

The Middlebury baseball team battled back to tie Tuesday's home opener on Forbes Field at 10-10, but Southern Vermont scored twice in the eighth and hung on for a 12-11 win. The Panthers (6-13) return to the field on Friday when they host Amherst in NESCAC West action at 4:00 p.m., while the Mountaineers (5-10) travel to Norwich on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. 

The visitors jumped on the board quickly in the top of the first inning. Ryan Callum and Will Iannacone both singled before Zack Stacey reached on an error to load the bases. John Arancio cleared the bases with a grand slam home run that curled just inside the left-field foul pole. Southern Vermont tacked on a fifth run when Dan Mason reached on a Panther error and scored on a suicide squeeze bunt by Zac Cronk.

Middlebury responded with seven runs of its own in the bottom of the frame. Justin Han was hit by a pitch and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Hayden Smith. The hosts rattled off seven-consecutive hits, highlighted by a two-run homer to left by Grant Elgarten, a two-run double by Ryan Hanrahan and a triple to center from Han for a 7-5 lead.

The Mountaineers tied the contest at 7-7 via a run-scoring single in the second from Stacey and an RBI groundout from Rob Spatafore in the third.

The score remained that way until the home half of the fifth. Sam Graf ripped a two-out double to left and scoring on a single through the left side by Han, giving the Panthers an 8-7 edge.

Southern Vermont regained the lead in the top of the seventh with three runs. Arancio scored on a single off the end of the bat to second from Cronk, while Cody Sullivan made it 9-8 when he touched home on a wild pitch. Mason moved the Mountaineers ahead by two at 10-8, scoring on a Middlebury error.

The Panthers tied the score at 10-10 in the bottom of the frame when Smith singled to right, plating Hanrahan, who doubled and Han, who induced a walk earlier in the inning.

The Mountaineers regained the lead with two tallies in the eighth. Spatafore singled up the middle to drive home Arancio, who struck out but reached first on a wild pitch. Mason made it a 12-10 when he stole home as part of a double steal.

Hanrahan pulled the Panthers to within one at 12-11 in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly to left center, bringing in Jake Dianno who doubled and stole third.

Ten different Panthers recorded a hit in the contest, led by Han's three hits in four at-bats with a triple and two RBI and two runs scored. Elgarten went 2-3 with two RBI, while Hanrahan was 2-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Dianno and Graf both went 2-5 with two runs scored each for the Panthers. On the mound, Colby Morris (2-4) took the loss for the Panthers, allowing two runs on three hits with three strikeouts in two innings of work. George Goldstein was effective in three innings of work out of the bullpen, striking out five and not allowing a hit. Five Panther pitchers tallied 14 strikeouts in the game.

Southern Vermont had four different players with two hits apiece, highlighted by Callum (2-5, 2 R) and Arancio (2-5, 3 R, 4 RBI). Nick Hartman (3-2) earned the win with 1.1 innings of relief and Dylan Ramirez collected his first save with a scoreless ninth.