AMHERST, Mass. – Splitting Saturday's conference doubleheader at Memorial Field, the Amherst College baseball team edged Middlebury, 3-1 before a late game rally lifted the Panthers past the Mammoths, 6-2 in the second contest of the day.
With the split, Amherst moves to 6-8 on the year and to 1-2 in NESCAC West action, while Middlebury moves to 5-9 overall (2-4 NESCAC West). Amherst returns to action tomorrow, Sunday, April 9 when they welcome Wheaton to Memorial Field for a 3:30 p.m. non-conference matchup.
GAME ONE HIGHLIGHTS
Ryan Rizzo logged the first highlight reel play of the contest, recording the third out of the second inning for the Panthers after chasing down a deep fly ball by Severino Tocci '20 in center field and making an athletic catch at the fence.
First on the scoreboard, Middlebury tallied what stood as its lone score of the game in the top of the third. Rizzo started off the inning with a single down the left field line, before stealing second and moving over to third on a ground ball out to set up the scoring play for Jason Lock. Ripping a hard line drive to right center, Lock's hit was deep enough to post the sacrifice, as Rizzo tagged up from third to give Middlebury a 1-0 edge.
Responding immediately, Chase Henley '19 blasted a leadoff homerun over the left field wall in the bottom of the inning to deadlock the score at 1-1. Amherst claimed its first lead of the game two batters later following a Max Steinhorn '18 singled and steal as Ryan Hardin '18 sent a double just out of the reach of the diving left fielder to plate Steinhorn.
The Mammoths added an insurance run in the fourth, with Anthony Spina '17 taking first after being hit by a pitch and Nick Nardone '19 singling to right to place runners at first and second. Tocci earned the RBI for Amherst, powering a single to left center to give the home team a 3-1 lead.
Neither side sent a runner home in the final three innings, with the last play of note coming in the bottom of the sixth as Panther second baseman Hayden Smith made a leaping catch in shallow center field to rob Nardone of a base hit.
Steinhorn led the Mammoths in hits, going 2-for-3 at the dish while scoring a run. Ryan, Tocci and Henley registered the RBIs for Amherst, with Hardin going 1-for-3 and Tocci and Henley each finishing 1-for-2 at the plate.
Rizzo posted a team-high two hits, going 2-for-4 with a run scored for Middlebury, while Lock notched the lone RBI for the Panthers.
Both starting pitchers tossed a complete game, with Jackson Volle '17 (3-0) giving up just five hits and an earned run while striking out eight and walking two in the winning effort for Amherst. Colby Morris (1-3) took the loss for Middlebury, allowing three earned runs while whiffing two.
GAME TWO HIGHLIGHTS
Capitalizing on their first at bat, Amherst made it a 1-0 game three hitters into the contest. Starting off the bottom of the first inning, Steinhorn sent a single up the middle before stealing second and moving over to third on an infield hit by Hardin. Stepping up to the plate, Roberson earned the RBI for the Mammoths, ripping a sacrifice line drive to left.
Middlebury knotted the score at 1-1 in the second, loading the bases behind a single, walk and single. Making contact with two outs, Rizzo sent a hard ground ball to the left of second base to force an error on the play as all four Panthers safely advanced.
The sides traded runs in the third, with Phil Bernstein notching a single to left center to plate Lock for the Panthers and Nardone registering a fielders choice to the shortstop with the bases loaded to plate Roberson for the Mammoths.
Strong defense was on display for Amherst in the top of the fourth, as Henley stole a chance from Brooks Carroll to lead off the inning. Fouling off a ball down the right field line, Henley made a fantastic over the shoulder catch to secure the out.
Regaining the a one run advantage in the seventh, Sam Graf logged an infield single and advance to second on an error before moving over to third on a wild pitch. Graf crossed home a batter later as Lock launched a sacrifice fly to right field to set the score at 3-2 in favor of Middlebury.
The Panthers tacked on three insurance runs in the final inning to clinch the 6-2 win. Lock, Justin Han and Berstein logged the RBIs for Middlebury, recording a double, single and single, respectively.
Tasked with the start for Amherst, Sam Schneider '18 tossed 6.0 innings and allowed one earned run and six hits while striking out nine. Chris Baldi '17 (0-1) was crediting with the loss, while Mike Castiglie '17, Wilson Taylor '19 and George Long '17 all saw action in the last two innings.
Colin Waters (1-1) pitched 7.1 innings in the winning effort for Middlebury, giving up two earned runs and striking out two, while Conor Himstead closed out the contest, allowing no hits and whiffing two batters.