Middlebury broke open a close game with 10 runs over the final three innings, as the Panthers picked up a 12-2 victory in eight innings on Thursday at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (3-4). The game was called due to darkness following eight innings of play. Middlebury (1-1) heads to Atlanta for a three-game series with Emory, starting Saturday with a doubleheader and a single contest the following day.
Middlebury was poised to open the scoring in the top of the second, benefitting from three walks to load the bases with one out. Engineer starting pitcher Brendan McNerney got out of the jam, retiring the final two batters of the inning to keep the game scoreless.
The Panthers manufactured a run in the top of the third, as Justin Han walked and moved to third with a pair of stolen bases. He raced home for the game's initial run on a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead.
RPI tied the game in the bottom half of the inning and took a 2-1 lead two innings later on a solo homer by Jake Defayette.
The visitors came right back with three runs in the top of the sixth. Hayden Smith stole home as part of a double steal, while Henry Strmecki gave Middlebury a 3-2 advantage with an infield single and increased the margin by a run scoring on an infield error.
Middlebury came back with another big frame in the seventh with Andrew Gough and Smith each delivering RBI singles. Brooks Carroll made it a 7-2 score, squeezing home Han, while Smith touched home plate following an error. Ryan Hanrahan drove in a run with a base hit to left field and Panthers capped off the seven-run inning with a pair of unearned runs on an outfield miscue by the Engineers.
Strmecki added a final run for the Panthers in the top of the eighth, driving in Han with an infield single for a 12-2 score.
Middlebury pounded out 12 hits with five players each finishing with two apiece. Han, Strmecki, Smith, Gough and Sam Graf each had a pair, while Strmecki also drove in two runs and scored twice. The Panthers also stole eight bases as a team and already have 15 in just two games this spring.
Austin Lawrence went 2-4 for RPI, while Defayette added a home run. On the mound for RPI, Mike Targas (0-1) took the loss, giving up three runs in one inning of relief work.