Baseball Wraps Up Stay in California, Winning NESCAC West Series With Williams

Sam Graf drove in a pair of runs in Saturday's 6-1 win over Williams.
Sam Graf drove in a pair of runs in Saturday's 6-1 win over Williams.

The Middlebury baseball team won four of its final six games in Southern California. The Panthers needed an extra inning to get past Whittier by a 6-4 score on Monday afternoon. The next day, Middlebury came back from a 4-0 deficit for an 8-5 win over Caltech. The Panthers hung tough on Wednesday with 10th-ranked Redlands, but found themselves on the short end of a 4-1 contest. In Friday’s NESCAC West opener with Williams, Middlebury erupted for a season-high 20 runs, scored in seven different innings and collecting a season-best 19 hits, for a 20-1 victory. On Saturday, the Panthers took the opening seven-inning game 6-1 before the Ephs won the nine-inning nightcap, 5-3.

On Monday at Whittier, Middlebury went on top in the fourth when sophomore Hayden Smith (Charlotte, N.C.) singled to left field, stole second and moved to third when classmate Justin Han (Vienna, Va.) reached on a fielder’s choice. The duo then pulled off a double steal, as Smith gave his team a 1-0 lead.

The following inning, the Panthers scored three runs on four hits for a 4-0 advantage. Junior Phil Bernstein (Palos Verdes Peninsula, Calif.) got things going with a single to center, followed by a base hit to left from senior Drew Coash (Concord, Mass.). Two batters later, Smith singled up the middle to drive in Bernstein and rookie Henry Strmecki (Wilton, Conn.), who reached on a fielder’s choice.

Whitter answered in the fifth with a two-run homer by John Vuz, making it a 4-2 game.

The Poets made it a one-run game in the sixth when Dmitri Washington singled to right center to plate Jarryd Samsing, who led off with a base hit.

The game was knotted at 4-4 in the eighth after Daniel Tuerffs singled to left center, driving in Chris Howe. Neither team scored in the ninth, forcing extra innings.

Middlebury sophomore Brooks Carroll (Davidson, N.C.) put his team up 5-4 by leading off the top of the 10th with a solo shot. Han was hit by a pitch and stole second before scoring on a fielder’s choice and the aid of an error. The Poets had no answer in the bottom of the inning as Middlebury picked up the 6-4 victory.

Rookie Jack Miller (New York, N.Y.) picked up his first career win, allowing one run and four hits over three innings of relief work. Classmate George Goldstein (Westport, Conn.) recorded the initial save of his career, pitching a scoreless 10th inning. Rookie Evan Stewart (San Diego, Calif.) got the start on the mound, allowing two runs and five hits with four strikeouts over 4.2 innings of work.

Smith went 3-5 in the game with two runs scored and two RBI, while six other players had hits, including a double from Han.

Dante Mancia suffered the loss for Whittier, giving up one run and three hits over 4.1 innings with four strikeouts. Eleven players earned the Poets' 12 hits, with Brandon Mulrooney going 2-2.

On Tuesday at Caltech trailing 4-0, Middlebury made it a 4-3 game with three runs on three hits in the third. Senior Sebastian Sanchez (Brooklyn, N.Y.) singled to center and Carroll walked, before they both moved up on a sacrifice bunt from Smith. Han followed with a single through the left side to plate both runners. Junior Sam Graf (Loma, Colo.) singled down the right field line to drive in Han, who had moved up on a throwing error.

Middlebury sophomore Hamilton Evans (South Pasadena, Calif.) belted a two-out homer to left center in the fourth to tie the game at 4-4, before the Beavers went back on top in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single from Chris McCarren.

The visitors regained the lead (5-4) in the fifth when Smith scored on a fielder's choice after being hit by a pitch.

The Panthers gained some breathing room in the seventh, taking an 8-5 lead. Carroll walked and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Smith. Han reached on an error as Carroll scored. One batter later, sophomore Grant Elgarten (Upper Brookville, N.Y.) doubled to left center to drive in Han. Following a walk by rookie Jake Dianno (Maple Glen, Pa.), sophomore Andrew Hennings (Oak Park, Ill.) reached on an infield single as Elgarten moved to third and scored on an error.

Senior Robert Erickson (Dallas, Texas) picked up the win with 4.2 innings of three-hit relief, while junior Colby Morris (Ross, Calif.) earned his first career save with a scoreless ninth.

Han went 2-4 with two runs scored and two RBI to lead the Panthers. Seven other players had hits, including doubles from Elgarten and Strmecki as well as Evans’ homer.

Caltech starter Jonah Krop suffered the loss, allowing five earned runs and eight hits over 6.2 innings. McCarren had a 4-5 game with two doubles, two runs scored and three RBI to pace the Beavers, while David Watson went 3-4 and scored twice.

On Wednesday at Redlands, Middlebury took a 1-0 lead in the third when Hennings singled to left, moved to second on a wild pitch, before advancing to third on a fly ball. He crossed the plate on another fly out, this one a sacrifice to left by Carroll.

Redlands responded in the bottom of the inning, with a run crossing the plate on a sacrifice fly by Will Hall and a second tally on a double to right center by Brendan Gardiner.

The Bulldogs added two runs in the fifth, one coming on a double steal, as Hall stole home in the first-and-third situation. Ranier Aguilar drove in the other run with an RBI single to right center, putting his team up 4-1.

Junior Justin Legowski (Farmington, Conn.) suffered the loss, allowing four runs and five hits over five innings of work. Junior John Tipps (Nashville, Tenn.) threw a scoreless fifth, while rookie Bobby Sullivan (Ridgewood, N.J.) followed with three innings of one-hit shutout relief. Three different Panthers singled in the game.

Michael Rishebarger threw six innings to pick up the win, allowing one run on three hits. Gardiner and Aguilar each had a pair of hits at the plate.

On Friday against Williams, the Panthers got off to a fast start, scoring six times in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore Kevin Woodring (Norwalk, Conn.) drove in the game’s initial run with an RBI single to left field to score Carroll, who later touched home plate on a fielder’s choice for a 2-0 edge. Bernstein doubled the lead with a two-run double to left, while Elgarten drove in a pair with a two-base hit to the gap in left field, extending the advantage to 6-0.

The Ephs got one run back in the top of the second, as Kellen Hathaway raced home from third on an infield error to make it a 6-1 game.

Middlebury extended the lead to 8-1 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third. Hennings doubled down the left-field line, plating Graf who later scored on an error.

In the fifth inning, the Panther offense added three more tallies to extend the lead (12-1), as Smith, Han and Woodring reeled off consecutive RBI singles.

Middlebury continued to score in bunches during its next turn at the plate, with a four-run sixth. Carroll drove in Graf with a base hit to left field and Bernstein scored on a fielder’s choice for a 14-1 cushion. Han and senior Andrew Corcoran (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) accounted for the final two runs of the inning, with RBI singles.

The Panthers tacked on two more runs in the seventh and another pair in the eighth, making the final 20-1.

Carroll led the Panthers at the plate, going 3-6 with two RBI and a run scored, while Bernstein was 2-4 with three RBI and three runs scored. Woodring, Graf and Strmecki added to the offense with two hits each, while Graf also scored three times.

Morris yielded only one run on four hits in seven innings. Morris has thrown at least six innings in each start this spring. Sophomore Andrew Martinson (Evanston, Ill.) and Stewart each threw a scoreless inning of relief.

For Williams, Eric Pappas went 2-4 at the plate. On the mound, starter Charlie Carpenter took the loss, allowing eight runs (three earned) in three innings of work.

Middlebury’s 20 runs were most scored in a game since a 20-8 victory against Hamilton in the 2010 season.

In Saturday’s twinbill, the Ephs began the opening game with a run in the top of the first inning, as Mike Stamas led off with a single and later raced home on a wild pitch.

Middlebury jumped out to the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring a pair of runs with two outs. Smith singled to center field and crossed home plate one batter later on a double to left center by sophomore Alan Guild (Kensington, Conn.). Graf followed with a single to left, driving in Guild to give the Panthers a 2-1 advantage.

The home team broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth, tacking on four runs. Graf drove in the first run after being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, while Hennings was also hit by a pitch, forcing in another runner. Strmecki extended the margin to 6-1, delivering a two-run single up the middle.

Rookie Will Oppenheim (Chicago, Ill.) picked up his first collegiate victory, throwing 5.1 innings and allowing one run on five hits with four strikeouts. Goldstein retired all five batters he faced in relief for his second save of the spring. At the plate, Graf went 2-2 with two RBI, while Han had two hits with a run scored.

Stamas finished 3-4 for Williams, while starting pitcher Kyle Dean allowed six runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings.

In the nightcap, Middlebury took the early lead with a run in the bottom of the first. Carroll drew a lead-off walk and came around to score on a ground out by Guild.

The Panthers plated a pair of runs in the second inning. Corcoran hit a sacrifice fly to left field and the other run came on another sacrifice fly, this time to right field by Smith.

The Ephs tied the game with a three-run third inning, with the first run coming on a passed ball that allowed Stamas to score. Jack Roberts tied the game at 3-3 with a two-run double down the left-field line. Williams added two more runs in the seventh to take a 5-3 lead, as Stamas produced an RBI single to left field and Eric Pappas drove in the other score with a base hit to right. Those runs closed out the scoring the game.

Smith, sophomore Gray Goolsby (Austin, Texas) and Strmecki each had a pair of hits for the Panthers, while Smith also drove in a run. Junior Colin Waters (Basking Ridge, N.J.) got the start on the mound for Middlebury and went five innings, while Erickson took the loss in relief, giving up two runs (one earned) in 2.2 innings. Junior Conor Himstead (Wellesley, Mass.) added 1.1 of scoreless relief.

Williams starter George Carroll went seven innings for the win, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits. Bryan Woolley tossed two perfect innings of relief to earn the save.

Pappas went 2-3 with a run scored and drove in another, while Stamas was 2-5 with a RBI and a run.

• Baseball record: 6-9
• Up Next: 4/6 at Wesleyan – 4:00 p.m., 4/7 at Wesleyan – 12:00 p.m. (DH)