Hamilton held off a furious Middlebury (11-11, 3-4) comeback, as the Continentals (24-7, 6-4) took game one of a three-game NESCAC West series by a score of 8-7. The two teams will play a pair on Saturday with the first pitch slated for noon.
Hamilton took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Emily Fraser singled to right center and later scored on a two-out error.
The hosts added to their lead with a two-run, two-out rally in the third inning. After a walk and a batter hit by a pitch, Kendall Searcy singled to center to drive in a run. Helen Lin followed, driving another single to center, making it a 3-0 game.
The Continentals struck for five more runs in the fourth, all of them unearned. Caitlin Berreitter tripled to run to drive in one run, while a two-run double to left center plated a pair. Lin and Liz Brautigam each had RBI singles as the lead increased to 8-0.
The Panthers got the bats going in the fifth with a lead-off double to center by Jen McGann and a single to center by Olivia Bravo, putting runners on first and third. Sophie Bolinger followed, reaching on a base hit to left as McGann scored to extend the game. Following a pitching change and a fielder's choice, Melanie Mandell walked to load the bases, before Noelle Ruschil singled through the left side to make it 8-2. The Continentals retired the next two batters to limit the damage.
Middlebury rallied in the seventh, as Emily Moore singled to right and Mandell walked. Ruschil made it an 8-5 game when she belted a three-run homer over the center-field fence. Sophia Marlino then singled to left as Liza Tarr walked and McGann reached on an infield single to load the bases. Bravo walked to force in Marlino, before Bolinger plated Tarr with a sacrifice fly, making it a one-run game (8-7). Hamilton was able to retire the final batter of the game to secure the win.
Irene Margiotta (8-7) suffered the loss, allowing just two earned runs over six innings. Ruschil went 3-4 at the plate with a homer and four RBI, McGann was 2-4 with a double, Moore finished 2-5, while Mandell walked three times.
Morgan Hartranft improved to 11-3 with the win, allowing five runs and eight hits over 4.1 innings of work. Fraser, Lin, Berreitter and Searcy each had two hits for Hamilton. Fraser and Lin each drove in a pair, with Fraser scoring twice.