WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams College Baseball team took on the Middlebury College Panthers in the first of a three-game series today down at Cole Field. Coming off a mixed bag of outcomes this week the Ephs are looking to continue their most recent success against Vassar.
The three games which will take place both today and in a double header tomorrow are particularly important for Williams as they are conference games. While a strong start to the season has put their overall record at 14-4, they currently hold a 1-2 conference record. All three of those games were against Amherst where the Ephs dropped both games in the double header and then came back strong with a Sunday win in the third and final game.
Middlebury College sits at 14-6 for their overall record with a conference record of 2-1. They enter the series on the back of a two-game win streak.
Play began at 4:00 pm sharp and ran the full nine innings.
As the visiting team, Middlebury began the game at bat. Both teams were scoreless in the 1st inning, but the Ephs managed to make contact three times to get the juices flowing. Sophomore Eric Pappas knocked a single into center field to get on base as the first batter. A double play followed, but senior Kellen Hatheway delivered with another single deep into right center to replace Pappas' base position. Senior Doug Schaffer knocked a single down the right field line on the following at bat to push Hatheway to second. The inning ended soon after to put the Panthers back up at bat.
Another slow at bat for Middlebury featured two singles and two men on base but they were unable to advance any further.
Williams jumped out in front in the bottom of the 2nd to officially set the tone. Senior Tom Benz singled up the middle in his first at bat of the game. A strike out and a ground out followed to put the pressure on junior Mike Stamas. He managed to connect on a ball down the middle which was thrown wildly by the pitcher to first. The error allowed Stamas to advance to second and gave Benz the opportunity to cross home plate. With one on the scoreboard, the game entered the 3rd with Williams up 1-0.
The Ephs kept Middlebury scoreless for their third straight at bat, but pushed the pace to extend their lead further. First year Billy Shea stepped in as the first Williams batter of the 3rd and was walked with a four-ball pitch count. He stole second on his teammates' at bat to put him in good position for Schaffer's turn at the plate. Doug delivered a key double down the left field line to bring Shea in for the second run of the game. Sophomore Erik Mini followed suit with a double into right field to push Schaffer to third. Unfortunately, two strike outs on the following at bats pushed the game into the 4th with a 2-0 lead for Williams.
The Panthers got on the scoreboard for the first time that day in the top of the 4th. Sophomore Henry Strmecki lead off with a double down the left field line. Junior Andrew Hennings was walked as the second batter to put a man on first and second. Junior Hayden Smith gave up an out on a bunt but allowed time for Hennings and Strmecki to advance a base. Junior Kevin Woodring flied out to give Middlebury their second out and allowed Strmecki time to score. The at bat ended soon after but cut the deficit to one at 2-1.
Williams managed contact in each of their following two at bats, but were unable to turn the opportunities into runs. Middlebury on the other hand was shut out through the 5th and 6th. In the top of the 7th the Panthers got a little momentum going, but did not capitalize. Senior Sam Graf was hit by a pitch to reach first. He stole second soon after and was pushed to third by junior Gray Goolsby's single towards the short stop. A fly out prevented either runner from advancing any further.
Likewise, Williams followed suit in the bottom of the 7th. A Middlebury pitcher change to senior righty Colby Morris was followed by Hatheway's single deep into left field. Schaffer came back up to bat, but was walked to put a man on first and second. Morris settled in more as the inning continued with two strike outs and line out on the following three batters which put a stop to the Eph's momentum.
The 8th and 9th were a display of both team's pitching and fielding abilities. Aside from a walk and a base steal in the top of the 8th, the innings did not feature much action. With Williams in the lead, the game was cut short in the top of the 9th to give the Ephs a 2-1 win.
Today's win against Middlebury ends a small string of victories for the Panthers and puts the Ephs on a two-game win streak. Williams now holds a 15-4 total record with a 2-2 in conference play. Middlebury sits with a 14-7 full record and a 2-2 conference record.
The Ephs will get to round out the remainder of the series back on Cole Field tomorrow. A full day of baseball will begin with seven innings of play at 1:00 pm, followed by a short break, and then resumed play for the full nine.