AMHERST, Mass. – Taking a one run edge into the eighth, a booming grand slam by the Panthers stood as the difference maker as the Amherst College baseball team fell to conference foe Middlebury College, 8-4 Friday afternoon at Memorial Field.
With the loss, Amherst moves to 5-7 overall and to 0-1 in NESCAC West play, while Middlebury improves to 4-8 on the year (1-3 NESCAC West). Amherst and Middlebury return to action tomorrow, April 8 when they face off in a doubleheader at Memorial Field beginning at 12 p.m.
Getting on the scoreboard in their opening at bat, the Panthers claimed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. With runners on first and second following a hit by pitch and walk, Sam Graf belted a hard single to left field to plate Andrew Hennings.
Roberson nearly notched the Mammoths first hit of the game in the bottom half of the inning, powering a line drive to left field, but a diving catch by Drew Coash thwarted the effort. Amherst left fielder Anthony Spina '17 returned the favor in the second, stealing a chance from Justin Han with an impressive sliding catch in foul territory.
Capturing the lead in the bottom of the second, Yanni Thanopoulos '17 started off the two run inning for the Mammoths with a double to deep left center. Taking advantage of an error by the first baseman, Thanopoulos crossed home a batter later before Spina gave Amherst a 2-1 lead behind a balk and wild pitch.
Thanopoulos highlighted a scoreless third, logging the third out for Amherst with a stellar athletic catch in center field. Running to his right, Thanopoulos completely laid out to record the catch and steal a base hit from Jason Lock.
Tacking on another run in the bottom of the fourth, Amherst set the score at 3-1. Walking up to the dish with one out, Spina ripped a triple down the right field line to move into scoring position. Chase Henley '19 tallied an RBI a batter later, sending a deep ball to right field to plate Spina on the sacrifice fly.
Fighting back into the game, Middlebury evened the score in the sixth. Following a walk by Hennings, the Mammoths posted two fly ball outs before Raj Palekar doubled down the left field line. Coming through in the clutch with runners on second and third, Phil Berstein dropped a single in front of the center fielder to send both runners home.
Responding in the seventh, Nick Nardone '19 sent single into shallow right field with one out and advanced to third after the second baseman and right fielder collided going after the ball to set up the scoring play. Next at the plate, Sam Ellinwood '18 secured the RBI with a well-placed sacrifice bunt to give the Mammoths a 4-3 edge.
Breaking the game open in the top of the eighth, a doubled by Hennings and two hit batters loaded the bases and set up the highlight reel play for the Panthers. Taking to the dish, Han launched a booming grand slam over the left field fence to put Middlebury up 7-3.
Lock notched the final dagger for the Panthers, singling in Brooks Carroll to lift the Panthers to the 8-4 victory.
Tasked with the start, Drew Fischer '18 allowed one run, one hit and struck out three in 3.0 innings before Chris Baldi '17 went scoreless in 2.0 innings in relief. Zach Horwitz '20 whiffed one and gave up two runs in 2.0 innings on the mound, while George Long '17 (0-2) took the loss for Amherst, allowing five earned runs and striking out two in the final two innings.
Spencer Shores (1-0) earned the win for Middlebury in a strong outing, tossing 7.0 innings while allowing two earned runs and striking out four. Jake Stalcup posted his second save of the year entering the game in the eighth, giving up four hits and no runs to seal the win.
BY THE NUMBERS
- The Mammoths owned a slight 10-9 edge in hits in the outing, while Middlebury stranded five and Amherst left six runners on base.
- Middlebury logged four extra base hits on the day, while Thanopoulos and Spina notched a double and triple for the home team, respectively.
- The Amherst staff combined to strike out six and walk two, while the Panthers walked two hitters and struck out four.