Baseball Drops NESCAC West Doubleheader at Wesleyan

Sam Graf went 4-7 at the plate with a double during Saturday's doubleheader at Wesleyan.
Sam Graf went 4-7 at the plate with a double during Saturday's doubleheader at Wesleyan.

The Middlebury baseball team dropped both ends of a NESCAC West doubleheader Saturday at Wesleyan. The Cardinals (15-4, 2-1) scored four times in the first inning en route to an 8-1 victory, while using a six-run third to post a 10-2 victory in the nightcap. The Panthers (5-10, 3-3) play their home opener at Forbes Field on Monday against Norwich at 4:00 p.m.

In the seven-inning opener, the Cardinals plated four runs in their initial at-bat. Guy Davidson opened the scoring with a RBI single to center, plating Andrew Keith. A Panther miscue led to another Wesleyan run, while an Eric Jones single to left field made it 3-0 and Will O'Sullivan's base hit to right brought home Nick Miceli for the inning's fourth run.

The hosts scored a single run in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly by Jones plating Marco Baratta, who singled earlier in the inning.

Middlebury got a run back in the top of the fourth. Sam Graf led off the inning with a double down the left-field line, moving up 90 feet on a ground out by Phil Bernstein. Brendan Donohue drove in Graf with a sacrifice fly to left field, putting the difference at 5-1.

The hosts came right back with three runs in their half of the frame, as Baratta drove in pair with a base hit and Miceli used a bunt single to bring in Matt Jeye.

Wesleyan pitcher Peter Rantz kept the Panthers off the scoreboard over the final three innings of the opening game, finishing with a complete game. He allowed one run on three hits to improve to 4-1 on the season. Baratta went 3-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, while Davidson also had three hits, scored twice and drove in a run.

Graf, Spencer Tonies and Raj Palekar each picked up a hit for the Panthers, while Donohue drove in a run.

John Bunting (1-3) started the game for Middlebury giving up eight runs (six earned) in four innings. Mark Dickerson was solid in relief, tossing two scoreless innings.            

In game two, the hosts used a six-run third inning to jump out in front. After Ellis Schaefer scored on a Middlebury error, the Cardinals recorded consecutive RBI singles by Jordan Farber, Jeye and Baratta for a 4-0 lead. After a fielder's choice accounted for another run, O'Sullivan drove home Jeye with a base hit to left field for a 6-0 lead.

Wesleyan made it a seven-run cushion with a run in its half of the fourth, while the Panthers got on the scoreboard with a pair in the sixth. Jason Lock opened the inning with a walk and moved up two bases on a double by Palekar. Lock touched home plate on a ground out by Noah Levine, while a Cardinal error on the play allowed Palekar to score, making it a 7-2 game.

Wesleyan added single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to close out Saturday's sweep, finishing the weekend series with two wins in three games.

Graf had a nice game at the plate for Middlebury with three hits in four at-bats, while Palekar reached base twice with a double and a walk.

Joe MacDonald (1-1) got the start for the Panthers and worked into the third inning, allowing six runs (four earned) on eight hits. Robert Erickson (1.1 innings), Conor Himstead (3.0) and Ben Karlin (1.0) all saw time in relief.

Miceli (5-0) remained undefeated on the mound for the Cardinals, giving up one earned run in six innings on four hits. At the plate, Wesleyan was led by O'Sullivan's 4-4 performance with two RBI, while Andrew Keith went 3-4 with four runs scored and Farber also had three hits and three RBI.