Middlebury bounced back from an 18-6 setback in five innings in the opening game of Saturday's NESCAC West doubleheader at Hamilton, with a 6-4 triumph in the second contest to earn a split. The Panthers (12-12, 4-5) have a quick turnaround, heading back on the road Monday for a doubleheader at Castleton with the first game starting at 3:30 p.m.
Middlebury jumped out to the early lead in the first game of the twin bill, plating a pair of runs in the top of the opening inning. Emily Moore reached on a one-out walk and scored one batter later on a home run to center field by Melanie Mandell.
The Continentals (25-8, 7-5) responded with eight runs on the bottom half of the frame, taking an 8-2 lead. Helen Lin delivered a two-run triple down the line in left field, while Caroline Chivily added a double that accounted for two more runs.
The Panthers cut into the deficit in the fourth inning, pushing four runs across the plate. Sara Tobias lifted a sacrifice fly to center making it an 8-3 game, while Jen McGann scored on an error one batter later. Mandell laced a single to center to drive in Olivia Bravo and Moore capped the inning, racing home on a passed ball to make it an 8-6 contest.
Hamilton answered with its second big inning, scoring 10 times in the bottom half of the frame. Anna Rasmussen had a key three-run double to highlight the stanza for the hosts.
Mandell led the Panthers at the plate, going 2-3 with a home run and three runs batted in, while Noelle Ruschil also went 2-3. Caroline Thacker (1-3) took the loss, while Bravo allowed one earned run in three innings of relief.
For the Continentals, Lin went 2-2 with a double, triple, three runs scored, three RBI and two walks, Ashleah Yzaguirre had a pair of hits and knocked in three runs. Clare O'Brien (6-1) earned the win in relief, while Morgan Hartranft collected her fifth save.
In the nightcap, the visitors took the lead in their initial at bat, as Mandell hit a double to right center to plate Moore to open the second contest.
The hosts used a three-run second inning to take the lead, but Middlebury tied the score 3-3 in the third on another double by Mandell. Later in the inning, Liza Tarr, McGann and Kaylee Gumm each came through with RBI singles to center field, as the Panthers jumped out to a 6-3 advantage.
Hamilton tallied a run in the bottom of the fifth, but a big defensive play by Ruschil in the sixth prevented the hosts from getting closer. Ruschil snared a line drive at third base and quickly tagged the base for a double play.
Mandell added two more hits in the victory, both doubles, moving into third place on the career list for two-base hits with 40. Bolinger also had a double for Middlebury, while Irene Margiotta (9-7) hurled a complete game for her ninth win of the season.
Rasmussen led the Continentals, going 2-3 with two doubles and three RBI, while Dez DePaulis (3-3) took the loss, going the first two innings and giving up five runs.
Hamilton and Middlebury entered the weekend tied for the NESCAC lead in hitting and didn't disappoint, combining for 49 runs over the three games.