Middlebury Falls to Tufts, Down Bates to Keep Championship Hopes Alive

Brooks Carroll drove in five runs on Saturday night.
Brooks Carroll drove in five runs on Saturday night.

Middlebury fell by a 5-0 score to Tufts on Saturday morning, but bounced back with a 10-1 win over Bates (19-17) Saturday night to stay alive at the 2019 NESCAC Tournament hosted by Colby. The Panthers (24-12) will take on Williams in an elimination game on Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m., with the winner needing to beat Tufts twice in the afternoon to claim the crown.

Tufts took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Elias Varinos singled to right and scored when Justin Mills followed with a double to left.

Kyle Cortese made it a 2-0 game the following inning when he led off with a solo homer. Peter DeMaria was hit by a pitch, bunted to second and scored when Harrison Frickman hit a two-run homer for a 4-0 advantage.

Middlebury rallied in the fifth, but Henry Strmecki was stranded at third after singling to center. The Panthers threatened again in the sixth, but runners were left on first and third. Middlebury also had a runner on in the seventh and eighth, but could not get on the board.

The Jumbos made it a 5-0 game in the eighth with a solo homer from Cortese, his second of the game.

Colby Morris (5-3) went the distance, allowing five runs on seven hits over eight innings with four strikeouts. With his four Ks, Morris moved into second place all-time at Middlebury with 172, and set a new personal best with 54 this season.

Five different players had singles for the Panthers. Justin Han broke his own single-season record with his 23rd stolen base of the spring.

R.J. Hall improved to 7-0 on the hill for Tufts, striking out 10 over nine innings, while allowing four singles.

Varinos went 3-4, while Cortese was 2-4 with two homers, two runs scored and two RBI.

In the 7:00 p.m. elimination game against Bates, Middlebury struck with four runs on three hits in the bottom of the second. Sam Graf walked, Strmecki singled to left and Hayden Smith walked to load the bases. One batter later, Brooks Carroll delivered a clutch, two-out single through the left side to plate Smith and Strmecki. Han followed, doubling to right center, as Carroll and Smith scored for the 4-0 lead.

Bates got on the board in the fifth when Justin White singled and later scored on a base hit through the left side by Christian Beal. The Bobcats tried to force in a run with two outs, but Jack Arend was thrown out at the plate on a delayed steal.

Middlebury blew the game open in the eighth with six runs on four hits. Han walked before stealing second and third, setting a new tournament record with four steals in a game. Three batters later, Graf reached on an infield single to shortstop, as Han crossed the plate for a 5-1 lead. Following a pitching change, Strmecki singled to load the bases, before Smith delivered a two-run base hit to center. One batter later, Carroll ripped a bases-clearing double to left center, making it a 10-1 game.

Alex Price (5-2) picked up the win, allowing just one run on six hits over seven innings with a career-high seven strikeouts. Andrew Martinson threw a scoreless eighth, as did John Tipps in the ninth.

Carroll went 3-4 in the game, surpassing the 100 career-hit mark with 102. He drove in five runs to go along with a double and a run scored. Graf was 2-3 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Strmecki was 2-4 in the win, while Smith went 1-3 with two runs scored and two driven in.

Bates starter Nolan Collins (7-2) suffered the loss, giving up seven runs on six hits over 7.2 innings of work. White, Beal and Giovanni Torres each had two hits for the Bobcats.