The Middlebury baseball team opened its season with a pair of games in Texas at Southwestern (5-5) on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers (1-1) fell 3-2 in game one, before taking the nightcap by a score of 8-4. The two teams will go at it again on Sunday with a single game starting at 1:00 p.m.
In the first game, Southwestern struck for three runs in the first inning, all coming with two outs. Runs crossed the plate on an RBI single, passed ball and an error. Middlebury made some noise in the sixth inning as Justin Han walked and Henry Strmecki reached on an infield single. The duo executed a double steal, as an errant throw allowed Han to score. Strmecki later crossed the plate on a wild pitch, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
Michael Farinelli (0-1) suffered the loss, giving up two earned runs on four hits, while striking out four over five innings of work. Evan Stewart tossed a perfect sixth inning. Strmecki singled and Smith walked three times to pace the offense.
Austin Smith (1-1) earned the win, striking out 10 over five innings of work, while allowing no hits. Four different players had hits for the Pirates, with a double from Preston Witt.
In the second game of the day, Southwestern took a 2-0 lead with two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Back-to-back doubles gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead before a sacrifice fly made it a 2-0 game.
Middlebury answered with a vengeance in the top of the fifth, plating seven runs on four hits. Smith walked and scored on a two-run homer by Gough. John Collins went back-to-back with a solo shot that put the Panthers up, 3-2. Brooks Carroll and Han walked, advanced on a double steal, while Strmecki reached on a fielder's choice. Kevin Woodring followed, blasting a grand slam to put the visitors on top, 7-2.
Middlebury added a run in the sixth when Woodring drove in Strmecki, who was hit by a pitch, with a two-out single to center. The Pirates scored a run in the sixth to make it an 8-3 contest. Lance Kruse of Southwestern hit a solo shot in the top of the eighth for an 8-4 final.
Alex Price (1-0) picked up the win for the Panthers, allowing two runs and four hits with seven strikeouts over five innings of work. Alec Ritch allowed a run in two innings. Woodring finished the game 2-5 with a grand slam and five RBI, while Jake Dianno went 2-5. Gough and Collins also homered for Middlebury.
Travis Harvey (1-1) suffered the loss, giving up seven runs on four hits over 4.1 innings. Witt and Hayden Craig and each had two hits for the Pirates, with a double from Witt.