The Middlebury baseball team was victorious in the final two games of a three-game NESCAC West series by a 2-1 score in walk-off fashion in the opener and an 11-4 tally in the nightcap on Saturday in contests played in Tucson, Arizona. The Ephs claimed Friday's contest by an 8-2 count. The Panthers (4-8, 2-1) hope to return to action Tuesday when they are scheduled to open the home portion of the schedule with a 4:00 p.m. game against Norwich.
Game one featured a pitcher's duel between Middlebury's John Bunting and Williams' Tyler Duff. The Panthers got on the board with a single tally in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Max Araya was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a Williams' fielding error and scampered to third on a fielder's choice. He raced home on a run-scoring single just beyond the shortstop's reach off the bat of Ryan Rizzo.
Williams (5-10, 1-2) tied the game with one run in the top of the fourth inning. The Ephs loaded the bases with back-to-back singles by Doug Schaffer and Jack Cloud to start the frame. Tom Benz drove home Schaffer with a sacrifice fly to deep center field, but Bunting kept the game tied at 1-1 and worked out of the jam, inducing a pair of fielder's choice ground balls for the second and third outs.
The score remained knotted at 1-1 until the bottom of the seventh inning. Spencer Tonies ripped a one-out double to left field, and moved up to third on a single from John Luke. Alex Beschloss replaced Duff on the mound for Williams and Tonies raced home from third on a wild pitch for the 2-1 victory.
Bunting (1-2) picked up his first collegiate win going all seven innings. He allowed one run on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Rizzo went 2-3 at the plate with an RBI, while Luke was also 2-3. Tonies had a 1-3 opening game with a double and run scored.
Duff took the hard-luck loss, going six-plus innings with two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and a walk. Schaffer went 2-2 with a run scored for the Ephs, while Cloud managed the other base hit in three at-bats.
In game two, Williams grabbed the early lead with a run in the top of the first on doubles from Adam Regensburg and Schaffer.
The Panthers exploded for six runs in the bottom of the third. A sacrifice fly by Tonies scored Jake Turtel with the first run, while a bases-loaded walk by Rizzo made it 2-1 in favor of the Panthers scoring Luke who had singled. The big blow of the rally came off the bat of Raj Palekar, who laced a bases-clearing triple to center field and gave Middlebury a four-run cushion. Alex Deutsch made it 6-1 when he drove in Palekar on a single through the right side.
Middlebury added a run in the fifth when Turtel singled to left field, bringing home Palekar who reached on an error. Williams made it a 7-2 game in the top of the sixth on Cloud's RBI single to plate Schaffer, who singled a few at-bats earlier.
The Panthers regained their six-run advantage in the home half of the sixth via a run-scoring single to right from Phil Bernstein, while Williams answered with a single tally in the top of the seventh on a RBI single from Hatheway.
Ahead by five at 8-3, the Panthers put the game out of reach with a three-run bottom of the seventh. Middlebury took advantage of a pair of Eph miscues for the initial two runs, while Tonies plated the final tally with an RBI triple to left.
Williams scored a single tally in the eighth for the final 11-4 score.
Joe MacDonald (1-0) earned the win for Middlebury, allowing three runs, two earned, on eight hits with two punchouts and a walk over seven innings of work. Brendan Donohue went the final two frames, giving up a run on two hits with two strikeouts and two walks.
The Panthers pounded out 14 hits and all nine batters scored at least one run in the victory. Luke was 3-5 with a run, while Deutsch also had a three-hit game in four at-bats. Turtel went 2-3 with two runs and pair of RBI, while Palekar was 1-5 with three RBI and two runs scored.
Will O'Brien suffered the loss for Williams, going the first three innings with six runs on six hits. Jack Bohen, Marcus Colella, Beschloss and Benz also saw time on the mound for the Ephs, as four different players had two-hit games at the plate for Williams.