MEDFORD, MA — Senior Emma Harrington became the all-time winningest pitcher in Williams College history Saturday, hurling the Ephs into the 2015 NESCAC Tournament championship round via a 6-3 elimination-game win over Middlebury.
Williams improved to 30-6 with the win after losing earlier in the day to host Tufts University, 5-0. Tufts (40-0) will play Williams Sunday at 10 a.m. needing one win to claim the NESCAC title, while the Ephs will need to defeat the Jumbos twice.
Harrington went the distance in the win over Middlebury, allowing five hits and three runs, while walking no one and striking out six. The victory was the 50th of her career, breaking a tie with Katherine Baldwin '03, who finished with 49.
The second game was an early pitcher's duel between Harrington and Panther Neve Stearns and was scoreless through three full innings.
The Ephs snapped the scoreless ballgame in the bottom of the fourth when with one out Tayler Donze timed a Stearns off-speed offering perfectly and launched a long drive to right and sped into third with a triple. Melissa Cendejas then laid down a beautiful squeeze bunt between the circle and the first base-line, beating the throw to first for an RBI-single as Donze scored the game's first run.
After pinch-hitter Priscilla Pino roped a line drive to right that was caught, Erica Li delivered a two-out RBI-single to right that scored Cendejas for a 2-0 lead. Alison Michalik then lined a single to right and Lindsey Precht escaped a rundown by diving back into third safely to load the bases for Mo Frank. That was key as Precht then dashed home on a wild pitch to make it 3-0 before Stearns struck out Frank to end the frame.
Harrington kept rolling in the top of the fifth, retiring the Panthers 1-2-3 on five pitches.
The Williams offense jumped on Middlebury reliever Allison Quigley in the bottom of the fifth as Cramer lined the first pitch she saw for a single to right and Lexi Curt followed by blasting a 2-2 pitch to right field that cleared the fence for a two-run home run, her team-leading seventh of the season.
Donze followed Curt's blast with a single to left. She then stole second. After Cendejas fanned, Precht lined a single off Quigley to put runners on the corners. Pino then dropped down a perfect bunt between the circle and the first-base line that scored Donze to make it 6-0.
Middlebury put the first two runners on in the top of the sixth. A wild pitch put runners on second and third with no outs, but Harrington retired the next two batters on a pop up that Cramer made a nice play on and a liner to Donze in left. However, Middlebury's Carlyn Vachow jumped on the first pitch she saw and hit a sinking liner to left that a diving Donze got a glove on but could not hold as two runners crossed the plate to make it 6-2. Erin Giles then lined a single to left center that scored Vachow for a 6-3 lead, but Harrington escaped further damage by retiring Siobhan O'Sullivan on a fly to left.
The Ephs' 12-hit attack was led by Donze, who went 3 for 4 with two runs scored, and Curt, who was 2 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored. Michalik was also 2 for 4.
Earlier in the day, the Ephs saw their 14-game win streak snapped by No. 1 Tufts, 5-0, as Jumbo senior Alyson Fournier tossed a 1-hit shutout. Tufts improved to 40-0 with the victory.
The Jumbos scored twice in the first inning when Raven Fournier lashed a two-run, bases-loaded single to right center. They added a run in the fourth on Christina Raso's single to center with two outs and scored twice in the sixth to put the game away.
Williams had three base runners in the game. In the second, Cendejas lined a shot to left that was misjudged and ruled a two-base error. In the top of the fourth, Cramer walked with one out and stole second with two outs, but was left stranded at second when Fournier fanned Donze, one of 15 strikeouts on the day for the Tufts hurler.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, Frank ripped a hard groundball past the diving Tufts shortstop and into left fied for the team's first base hit. She stole second, but stayed there as Fournier whiffed Cramer to end the inning.
Raso was 3 for 4 with an RBI. Michelle Cooprider was 2 for 4 for Tufts.
Harrington took the loss for Williams, falling to 13-3. She allowed eight hits and four runs, only two earned, over five innings of work. She walked two and struck out two. Senior Emalie Rott pitched one inning, allowing one run on one hit.