Panther Baseball Ends Stay in Arizona, Including NESCAC West Series With Williams

Sam Graf picked up three hits in the win over the Gusties.
Sam Graf picked up three hits in the win over the Gusties.

The Middlebury baseball team dropped four of its final five games in Tucson, Arizona. The Panthers lost a slugfest with Gustavus Adolphus on Monday afternoon, falling by a score of 13-12. On Wednesday, Middlebury pounded out a season-high 19 hits and scored five runs in the final two innings, earning a 13-10 victory over Gustavus Adolphus. In Friday’s NESCAC West opener with Williams, the Panthers jumped out to the early lead but Williams overcame the deficit to earn an 18-5 victory. On Saturday, Middlebury wrapped up its spring trip, dropping a pair of one-run games to the Ephs. The Panthers fell 9-8 in seven innings during the opening game and dropped the nine-inning nightcap 10-9.

On Monday against Gustavus Adolphus, Middlebury took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when senior Jason Lock (Foster City, Calif.) doubled and later scored on a single to left by sophomore Phil Bernstein (Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif.). The Panthers tacked on a pair in the second inning when junior Drew Coash (Concord, Mass.) led off with a triple to right, before senior Johnny Read (Washington, D.C.) walked. The two later scored on an error to put Middlebury up 3-0.

Gustavus Adolphus struck for five runs in the top of the third to go on top 5-3. Middlebury answered in the bottom of the fourth as seven runs crossed the plate on four hits with two Gustie errors. Rookie Brooks Carroll (Davidson, N.C.) and senior Ryan Rizzo (Needham, Mass.) each singled before a walk by rookie Justin Han (Vienna, Va.) loaded the bases. All three crossed the plate when Lock belted a double to left to put his team on top 6-5. Sophomore Sam Graf (Loma, Colo.) followed with a single before Bernstein's fielder’s choice allowed Lock to score. The Panthers plated another run on a double steal as Bernstein took second and Graf stole home. Four batters later, Rizzo walked with the bases loaded in his second at-bat of the inning. Han followed and did the same as Middlebury led 10-5.

Gustavus Adolphus scored in the fifth before an RBI single by Read in the bottom of the inning drove in Bernstein for an 11-6 lead.

The Gusties jumped on the Panthers in the sixth, scoring six runs on five hits, taking a 12-11 lead. They added a run in the seventh before Middlebury rookie Andrew Hennings (Oak Park, Ill.) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring his team within one at 13-12.

Bernstein led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hennings. Unfortunately, he was stranded there as the Panthers fell, 13-12.

Sophomore Colin Waters (Basking Ridge, N.J.) suffered the loss, allowing seven earned runs over 5.1 innings of work with three strikeouts. Senior Dylan Takamori (Honolulu, Hawaii) tossed two innings of scoreless relief, while sophomore Conor Himstead (Wellesley, Mass.) pitched a scoreless ninth.

Lock finished the game 4-6 with two doubles, three runs scored and three RBI. Bernstein had a 3-5 day with two runs driven in, while Graf finished with a pair of hits.

Thomas Fischer earned the win in relief for the Gusties, while Casey Lewandoski picked up the save. Isiah Welckle paced the hitters with a 4-6 game, scoring three runs and driving in one.

On Wednesday, the Panthers jumped the Gusties in their initial at bat, scoring three times in the top of the first. Graf doubled to left field and touched home plate on a bases-loaded walk by Hennings, while rookie Grant Elgarten (Upper Brookville, N.Y.) drove in a pair of runs with a single to center field for a 3-0 lead.

Middlebury doubled its lead in the third inning, starting with a lead-off home run to left field by rookie Kevin Woodring (Norwalk, Conn.). Rookie Gray Goolsby (Austin, Texas) extended the lead to 5-0 with a RBI double to left field and scored one batter later on a Read base hit.

In the fourth, the Panthers pushed their advantage to 8-0, following RBI singles by Han and Goolsby.

Gustavus Adolphus made it an 8-7 game in the fifth inning, scoring seven times. Matt Berkner and Isiah Welckle each had key hits in the inning, with Berkner plating two runs via a double and Welckle driving in two more with a single. 

The Gusties tied the game with a single run in the sixth, but Middlebury came back with a pair of runs in the eighth, regaining the lead. Junior Raj Palekar (New Rochelle, N.Y.) gave the Panthers a one-run edge with a single to left field to score Hennings, who got aboard with a one-out single. Rizzo followed with a run-scoring base hit to center for a 10-8 lead.

Middlebury added some more insurance in the top of the ninth, starting with a two-run double to left field by Han. Han didn’t remain on base long, scoring one batter later when Hennings singled to right field for a 13-8 lead.

The Gusties trimmed two runs off the deficit in the bottom of the inning, but the Panthers didn't allow them to get any closer, making the final 13-10.

Woodring had a big game at the plate for Middlebury, going 3-5 with a homer, four runs scored and a run batted in. Graf went 3-6, while Goolsby, Hennings and Han each recorded a pair of hits. Han also drove in three runs and Goolsby had two RBI.

Middlebury used eight pitchers in the game with senior Jake Stalcup (Manchester, Vt.) earning the win, throwing two innings and allowing one run on one hit.

Ryan Moriarty went 2-2 for the Gusties and Berkner collected three RBI, while Jacob Braun (1-2) took the loss on the mound, allowing five runs in two innings of work.

In Friday’s NESCAC West opener against Williams, the Panthers did not waste any time jumping out in front, scoring a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Rizzo led off the game with a double to right field and scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly to right by Graf. Lock immediately followed with a single, driving in Hennings for a 2-0 lead.

Williams came right back in the bottom of the inning, tying the contest at 2-2. Jack Cloud touched home from third base following a balk, while Doug Schaffer plated the second with a base hit.

The Ephs took the lead with three runs in the third and extended their lead to 7-2 with two more runs in the fourth.

Middlebury closed the margin to 7-4, scoring single runs in both the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, Graf drove home Rizzo with a base hit to right field, while in the next frame Rizzo scored Read with a single to make it a three-run difference.

Williams pulled away with five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and four more in the seventh, extending its lead to 16-4. Adam Regensburg had a key two-run double in the sixth, while an inning later Adam Dulsky belted a three-run double.

The Panthers collected another run in the top of the eighth, when junior Han singled and later scored on another base hit by Graf.

The Ephs scored the game’s final two runs in the bottom of the inning, making the final 18-5.

Rizzo finished the game going 3-5 at the plate for the Panthers with a pair of runs, while Graf went 2-4 and drove in three runs. Graf has now hit safely in all nine games this season. Read and Hennings also chipped in with two hits each. Junior Robert Erickson (Dallas, Texas) got the start for Middlebury and suffered the loss, giving up seven runs (three earned) on four hits in four innings.

For Williams, Regensburg went 4-6 with four RBI, while Dulsky went 2-2 with four runs batted in. Luke Rodino worked into the sixth inning to earn the win.

In Saturday’s twinbill, the Panthers overcame an early deficit after Williams scored a run in the bottom of the second inning. Middlebury came up with a big inning in the third, thanks to a clutch hit from Palekar. Palekar hit a base-clearing double to left field to make it a 4-3 game and he later scored on an error, tying the contest at 4-4.

Williams, winners of eight-straight games, responded by scoring six runs in the bottom half of the inning one seven singles for a 7-4 advantage.

In the fifth inning, Middlebury got two of the runs back to make it a one-run contest. Lock brought home Rizzo with a single to left and Graf followed with a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Ephs plated two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth (9-6), but the Panthers fought back in the top of the seventh. Lock doubled to center field, driving in Hennings, and later scored on a double play. Williams’ pitcher Tom Benz retired the next Panther batter to make the final 9-8.

Palekar went 2-4 at the plate for Middlebury with three RBI, while Lock was 2-4 with a two RBI and two runs scored. On the mound, sophomore Colby Morris (Ross, Calif.) started for the Panthers and suffered the loss, allowing seven earned runs in 5.1 innings.

Doug Schaffer finished with three hits for the Ephs and scored a run, while Jackson Parese, Kellen Hatheway and Regensburg each had two singles. Sean Hager improved to 2-0 on the season going 5.2 innings with seven strikeouts, while Benz tossed the final 1.1 for his second save of the spring.

In the second game, the Panthers jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a run in the top of the first. Rizzo led off the game with a single, stole second and raced home on a base hit to left field by Graf.

Middlebury added to the lead the following inning on the first collegiate home run by Carroll. The Panther blasted a three-run homer to left field, scoring Palekar and Elgarten for a 4-0 lead.

Williams came back to make it 4-2 with single runs in the second and third innings, before taking the lead 6-4 with a four-run fourth. Cloud had a run-scoring triple, while Hatheway provided another key hit with a RBI double.

Middlebury regained the lead at 7-6, once again using the long ball. Palekar drilled a three-run blast, scoring Lock and Han. The Panthers made it 8-6 with on a sacrifice fly by Graf in the sixth, but the Ephs scored twice in their half of the frame to tie the score. A run-scoring single by Hatheway in the seventh put the home team out in front 9-8.

The Panthers knotted the score at 9-9 in the top of the ninth when Han drove home the tying run with a base hit.

The Ephs won the game in the bottom of the ninth when Nate Michalski led off the inning being hit by a pitch. He eventually scored on a fielder’s choice to second base, giving Williams the one-run victory.

Offensively for the Panthers, Han went 3-5, while Carroll and Graf each had two hits. Carroll and Palekar each drove in three runs and Graf plated a pair. Rookie Andrew Martinson (Evanston, Ill.) took the loss in relief, while Waters got the starting nod, allowing four earned runs in 3.2 innings.

Roberts and Michael Stamas each picked up three hits, while Cloud and Hatheway both had two with two RBI. Kyle Dean (1-1) picked up the win in relief, tossing the final four innings and allowing only one earned run.

• Baseball record: 3-8
• Up Next: 4/7 at Amherst – 4:00 p.m., 4/8 at Amherst – 12:00 p.m. (DH), 4/9 at Curry – 12:00 p.m. (DH)