Williams plated a pair of early runs and made them stand, as Middlebury dropped the opening game of its road NESCAC West series to the Ephs 2-1 on Friday. The Panthers (14-7, 2-2) and Williams (15-4, 2-2) will play games two and three of the series on Saturday, with the first contest scheduled for 12:00 p.m.
The Ephs opened the scoring in the last of the second inning, as Tom Benz scored from second base on a Panther throwing error. The hosts doubled the advantage an inning later when Doug Schaffer, the NESCAC's leading hitter, drove in Billy Shea with a two-base hit down the line in left field.
Middlebury got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning when Henry Strmecki led off with a double, followed by a walk from Andrew Hennings. After a successful bunt by Hayden Smith to advance the runners up a base, Strmecki scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Kevin Woodring.
In the top of the eighth, the Panthers threatened to tie the game, as Brooks Carroll reached on a lead-off walk and moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. Williams reliever Phillip Barnett stranded Carroll at second base, retiring the next three batters.
Kyle Dean threw a scoreless ninth for the Ephs, notching his third save of the season.
Colby Morris (3-1), who tied Scooter Scott ('08-'11) most career appearances by a Panther pitcher with 42, suffered his first loss, allowing only one earned run in six innings with a season-high eight strikeouts. George Goldstein added two innings of scoreless relief.
Strmecki went 1-3 with a double and also reached base with a walk.
Schaffer reached base in all four of his plate appearances for Williams, going 3-3 with a walk. Sam Rohrer (2-1) yielded one run on four hits over seven innings to earn the win.