Sweep Gives Panthers Series Win Over Wesleyan

Henry Strmecki (14) and Sam Graf (30) combined to score five runs in Sunday's 8-4 victory in game two against Wesleyan.
Henry Strmecki (14) and Sam Graf (30) combined to score five runs in Sunday's 8-4 victory in game two against Wesleyan.

Middlebury claimed both ends of a home doubleheader on Sunday, as the Panthers won the opener 5-2 and the nightcap 8-4 to win their NESCAC West series over visiting Wesleyan ( 14-15, 4-5). With the two victories, Middlebury reached the 20-win plateau for the second time in the last three years and just the fourth time in program history. The Panthers (20-9, 5-4) return to the field on Tuesday with a 6:00 p.m. game at Union, while the Cardinals are home against Western Connecticut State on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.

Middlebury's patience at the plate paid off at the start of the first game, as the Panthers were issued three walks in the bottom of the first. Henry Strmecki walked with the bases loaded to drive in the first run, while Sam Graf was hit by a pitch for a 2-0 advantage.        

The hosts doubled their lead in the next frame when Kevin Woodring hit a RBI single and Strmecki doubled off the bag at third to bring home another run for a 4-0 lead.

In the last of the fifth, Middlebury added another tally when Brooks Carroll scored on a base hit to center field by Hayden Smith.

The Cardinals broke through with a pair of runs in their half of the sixth when Jonny Corning blooped a double down the line in left. Jake Alonzo and Andrew Kauf scored on the play, trimming the deficit to 5-2.

In the top of the seventh, Wesleyan got a one-out single from pinch hitter Ryan Earle, but Panther reliever George Goldstein closed out the victory getting the next Cardinal batter hit into a game-ending double play for his second save of the spring.

Middlebury starter Alex Price (3-2) earned the win, going six innings and giving up a pair of runs on five hits with four strikeouts. Woodring reached base three times, going 2-3 with a walk and a run batted in.

Corning went 2-3 with a pair of RBI to pace Wesleyan at the plate. On the mound, Mike McCaffrey (1-2) took the loss as he did not record an out in the opening inning.

The Panthers started the second game the same way they did the first, plating a pair of runs in their initial at bat. Carroll came through with a two-out, two-run triple to center field for a 2-0 edge.

Wesleyan got one of the runs back in the second when Corning singled through the left side, bringing in Andrew Keith from second base.

The Cardinals pulled even at 2-2 in the fourth on a RBI ground out by Corning, while the hosts countered in the latter half of the frame with a sacrifice fly to center by Alec Ritch.

The visitors took their first lead of the game in the sixth, taking advantage of a pair of extra-base hits. Danny Rose doubled deep to the gap in right center to score Keith, while Corning connected on a two-base hit to center to plate Rose for a 4-3 advantage.

The lead only lasted until the bottom of the inning, as Ritch doubled and came home on a base hit through the left side by Carroll to tie the contest at 4-4. Middlebury jumped back in front in the seventh, as Graf doubled in a run and later scored on a wild pitch for a 6-4 lead.

Middlebury tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the eighth when Alan Guild blasted a solo home run to center and Strmecki raced home on a throwing error for the 8-4 final.

Graf finished with two doubles, two runs and a RBI to lead the hosts, while Strmecki scored three times. Andrew Martinson (2-0) earned the win with two scoreless innings of relief, following six innings of work from starter Colin Waters, who gave up four runs on five hits.

Keith did a little bit of everything for the Cardinals, going 2-3 with three runs scored, two stolen bases and a walk. Corning added two hits and knocked in three runs. Alonzo (1-2) pitched the final two innings for Wesleyan, taking the loss giving up four runs on six hits.