WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams College Baseball team took on Middlebury College in a double header today. These games are a continuation of the series which began yesterday. Both games were home at Cole Field during the first real spring day of the year.
The Ephs are coming off a 2-1 victory over the Panthers yesterday which extended their winning streak to two games and put their conference record at an even 2-2. Play was pushed back an hour to 1:00 pm to give grounds crew time to deal with the rainfall from last night. The second game began at 4:00 pm.
The first portion of the double header began slowly for both teams. Neither Middlebury nor Williams were able string together meaningful contact in the 1st inning. In the top of the 2nd Panther first year Alec Ritch knocked a single through the left side and advanced to second on a wild pitch. His teammate was walked two batters later to reach first. However, two quick foul outs meant the runners on base did not advance any further.
In the top of the 3rd scoring began and put Middlebury out to an early lead. Sophomore outfielder Henry Strmecki reached first on a fielder's choice which put a previously walked runner out at second. He managed to steal second and third on the subsequent batter's pitch count and a pickoff attempt respectively. Junior Kevin Woodring was walked soon after to put two men on. Junior Brooks Carroll delivered as the next batter with a bunt which allowed Strmecki time to score, got him safely to first and pushed Woodring to second. Juniors Andrew Hennings and Hayden Smith were both hit by pitches in two out of the next three at bats. Smith was hit with the bases fully loaded which meant another run for the Panthers. The events sparked a pitcher change from Eph junior Johnny Lamont to first year Daniel Lynch. A reach on a fielder's choice handed Middlebury their third and final out but put them in the lead at 2-0.
The Ephs continued to struggle throughout the 3rd and 4th innings. They remained unable to crack the scoreboard and were kept to three batters on each at bat. The Panthers only managed contact once in the top of the 3rd but opened up in the top of the 4th. First year Alec Ritch was walked as the first batter and stole second on the following at bat. A strike out and a ground out put the pressure on Midd, but senior Sam Graf delivered with a double to bring Ritch across home plate. Junior Justin Han followed up with a single deep out to center field which brought Graf in as well. The runs sparked another pitching change for the Ephs to sophomore lefty Bryan Woolley. After the switch Han stole second and then crossed third and home plate on a failed pick off attempt. Strmecki returned up to bat and knocked a single towards third base. With a man on first, Woodring bombed one over the fence to bring in the final two runs of the inning. With five runs scored, Middlebury took a 7-0 lead heading into the bottom of the 5th.
Unfortunately, Williams was still unable to find a base or progress past three hitters on their at bats in the 5th and 6th innings. Middlebury returned in the top of the 6th to extend their lead further. Hennings was walked and replaced by first year Andrew Gough to pinch run. Ritch returned as the second batter with a single to push Gough to second. Smith knocked a double to left center as the next batter to bring Gough home and put Ritch on third. On the subsequent pitch count, a wild pitch and a walk allowed Ritch time to score and walked senior Phil Bernstein. The last run of the at bat occurred when Graf knocked a ground out towards the pitcher which put him out at first but gave Bernstein time to reach second and Smith time to reach home. The most recent flurry of runs extended Middlebury's lead by three to 10-0. During the inning, the Ephs changed pitchers to first year Nate Orluk and then senior Will O'Brien.
The game extended into the 7th with no further change in score. In their final at bat, first year Eric Pappas got on base for the Ephs with a single out to right center. Unfortunately, the opportunity was cut short with a double play and ground out soon after.
A tough first game for the Ephs was followed by a short break and a resumption of play. With the weekend record tied at 1-1 the outcome of the series came down to the final game.
Middlebury maintained the series trend of a slow start. In their first at bat, Williams handed them three quick outs to send it to the bottom of the 1st. The Ephs, on the other hand came out firing. Pappas knocked a single to third base to get to first. Junior Mike Stamas pushed Pappas to second when he was walked as the next batter. Senior Kellen Hatheway drove in the first one with a shot to center field. A strike out followed shortly after, but left Stamas on third and Hatheway on second for senior Doug Schaffer's first at bat of the game. He connected with a roller to the short stop which put him out at first but gave Stamas time to score the Ephs second run of the game and Hatheway time to reach third. Senior Tom Benz knocked a single thorugh the right side to bring Hatheway home and put the Ephs up 3-0. A final strike out put the game into the 2nd and the Panthers at a significant deficit.
Middlebury and Williams remained quiet for most of the 2nd. Hennings, Pappas, and Stamas managed singles for their respective teams but a good showing of fielding and pitching meant the opportunities ended with a single base.
In the top of the 3rd, the Panthers cut the lead to one. Graf managed first on a fielding error, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and stole third. The circumstances and his base work meant he was in good position for when Han doubled to right field. Graf cracked the scoreboard for Middlebury, and Han was soon to follow. Two strikeouts followed the first run, but Han stole third in the process. With two outs posted, Carroll knocked a single to left field to bring Han across the plate. A final foul out moved the game into the bottom of the 3rd with the Ephs still in the lead but with a score of 3-2.
The Ephs were quiet in the bottom of the 3rd, but Middlebury completed their return to take the lead in their next at bat. Ritch bunted to get safely to first. Goolsby drove Ritch to second with a single towards the short stop. A failed pickoff attempt followed allowing both runners to advance a base. Graf returned up to bat and knocked a fly out high enough to allow Ritch to score the Panther's tying run. Han repeated his prior performance with a double to right field which brought Goolsby in for the fourth run. A few stolen bases and a walk put the pressure on the Ephs defensively, but a final fly out kept the Panther lead at one moving into the bottom 4th.
Williams kept the game close with a key tying run to end the 4th. First year Ryan Young was walked as the second batter. Pappas singled through the right side, allowing Young time to cross second and reach third. Stamas was hit by a pitch on the following play to load the bases for Hatheway's next at bat. Hatheway knocked a single through the left side to push all runners forward a base and tie the game. With the bases still loaded, the Ephs looked poised to take the lead. Unfortunately, a good series of pitches struck out the following two batters.
The following five innings were scoreless for both teams. First year Matt Aventuro connected for a double in the bottom of the 5th, but the Ephs were kept from capitalizing. Likewise, Hennings singled to right center in the top of the 7th but Middlebury was kept hitless from there on out.
In the top of the 7th, junior Eph Charlie Carpenter stepped into replace lefty Senior Jack Bohen on the mound. He was eventually relieved by fellow junior Kyle Dean who finished out the game. Similarly, Middlebury junior Andrew Martinson replaced senior Colin Waters in the bottom of the 7th. He was replaced by sophomore Bobby Sullivan in the bottom of the 8th.
Moving into the 9th inning, the score remained tied at 4-4. A strong pitching and fielding effort kept Middlebury scoreless for another inning and the game moved to the final at bat of regulation time. A ground out started the Ephs at bat. Schaffer managed to make contact on a wild pitch which bounced around long enough for him to reach first. He advanced to second on a wild pitch during Benz's pitch count, and eventually got to third on Tom's eventual fly out. With Schaffer on third and one out remaining, designated hitter, first year Billy Shea pinch hit for Aventuro. He managed to connect on a low fastball, but it was directed right at the second baseman for an easy ground out. With all innings completed and the score still tied, the game moved into extra innings.
Middlebury returned up to bat looking to take the lead and the game. An easy fly ball was caught on Ritch's at bat to hand the Panthers a quick first out. Smith came up big with a single out to right field to get on base. Goolsby struck out looking as the next batter which left pressure on Graf with two outs recorded. He connected on a pitch as well but skied it for another fly out to end Middlebury's at bat.
The Ephs came back up to hit knowing a single run would give them a victory and the series. A strike out on the first batter did not bode well for a quick outcome. Young made contact as the second batter with a roller which slipped past the third basemen. His efforts landed him at first with Pappas up next at the plate. Ever consistent, Pappas dinged a single deep into center field which pushed Young to second. With two men on, Stamas returned to bat again. A couple balls and a strike gave way to a double out to center field which allowed Young to clear third and come in for the game winning run. The final outcome of the game after ten full innings of play was 5-4 in favor of Williams College.
The victory today returns the Ephs to their winning ways, makes their record and impressive 16-5 and puts them even in their conference record at 3-3. The Panthers now sit at 15-8 with a 3-3 conference record as well.
With Williams Baseball moving into the middle portion of their season, the time between games has shrunk considerably. Their next chance at competition will be on Tuesday the 16th where the Ephs take on Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs. The game is away and out of conference but will give Williams the opportunity to prepare further for a series of games against the Wesleyan Cardinals coming up next weekend.