April 23, 2012

Middlebury dropped a pair of non-league games at Rensselaer on Wednesday. Kelly Erkert delivered the game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning in game two and RPI's pitchers' posted solid outings to lead RPI to a 4-2 win in game one and 3-2 in the nightcap at Doris Robison Field. RPI moves to 20-10 on the season, while the Panthers slip to 16-9 overall.

After the game one victory, the Engineers found themselves trailing the visiting Panthers heading into the final inning of the game. Down by a 2-0 deficit, RPI mounted a comeback as sophomore Tori Hunt singled, followed by a double to the left field wall from junior Jen Shields to put runners on second and third with no outs.  Sophomore Dani Grage then sent a sacrifice fly to center to bring in Hunt as the Panthers made their third pitching change of the game to sophomore Alexa Lesenskyj (Robbinsville, N.J.).

With runners on the corner and an out on the board, rookie Kathleen Baker stole second, setting up the game-winner by Erkert, who fired a shot into deep left field to bring in the winning runs.  In the circle, Osmanski picked up the victory - her fourth of the season - allowing two runs on seven hits over seven innings. She also struck out three batters.

Offensively, Erkert led the way, going 2-4 with two RBIs, while four other players also recorded hits.

For the Panthers, Lesenskyj took the loss, while first-year player Kelsey Martel (Concord, N.H.) pitched 3.1 innings, allowing two runs on three hits.  Senior catcher Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.) was a perfect 3-3 at the plate.

In game one, it was a pitcher's duel until the fourth inning, when the Engineers broke onto the scoreboard off a sacrifice fly from junior Aimee Konet. Hunt got things going as she reached and later stole second base. A single to left by Shields advanced Hunt to third, later scoring on Konet's hit to left.

Rensselaer tacked on another run in the bottom of the fifth when, with runners on and two out on the board, junior captain Gillian McCarthy sent a long ball to left field to drive in senior Samantha Paulding.

The lead was short-lived for the Engineers as the visiting Panthers tied the game in the top-half of the sixth frame.  Junior Emma Katz (Northridge, Calif.) opened the inning as she reached on an error.  After a walk to rookie Christina Bick (Ridgewood, N.J.), sophomore Kimber Sable (Winnetka, Ill.) advanced the runners with a sacrifice hit.

Junior Jessa Hoffman (Golden, Colo.)  changed things up with a swing of the bat, sending the ball to right to drive in both runners and make it a 2-2 game.

Rensselaer responded in the bottom of the inning as Shields led things off with a single. After advancing to second on a sacrifice play by Konet, Grage singled and advanced to second on a throw to give the Engineers runners on second and third.

Paulding then reached on a fielder's choice, which saw Shields cross the plate to regain the RPI lead (3-2). Erkert tacked on the fourth run for the home team on the next play with a one-out sacrifice hit to bring in Grage and make it a 4-2 game.

Rookie hurler Kristina Weltzin  remained solid in the seventh, finishing with her 13th complete game of the season.  She improves to 15-6 overall behind six strikeouts and just two runs allowed on three hits over seven innings.

Middlebury starter Martel shouldered the loss, allowing four runs on nine hits.  She struck out one batter and walked two.

Middlebury earned a split of two NESCAC West games at Williams on Friday afternoon. The Panthers won the first game when Hoffman lined a two-out, RBI-double in the top of the seventh inning to snap a 1-1 tie. Sophomore Elizabeth Morris (Kenilworth, Ill.) finished off her two-hitter in the bottom of the inning to seal the 2-1 victory. In game two, Kaitlin Dinet hurled a complete-game six-hitter and added a clutch two-run single to help Williams to a 7-1 win.

The Ephs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the nightcap when Mo Frank beat out a bunt for a single, took second and third on wild pitches, and scored when Ali Graebner grounded a single up the middle.

Middlebury scored its only run in the top of the fourth. Sophomore Emily Kraytenberg (Londonderry, N.H.) led off with a single and moved to second when Boylan beat out a bunt for a single. A sacrifice bunt from Sable put runners on second and third with one out. Senior catcher Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.) scored the run with a groundout to second, but Dinet escaped further damage when she induced Katz to groundout to short.

Graebner broke the tie in the Ephs' half of the fourth when she met an Lesenskyj pitch in full swing, sending the ball over the fence in center for a solo home run. The Ephs put the game away with a five-run fifth inning highlighted by Dinet's key two-run single to right center.

Dinet scattered six hits while improving to 2-3 on the season. She walked one and struck out three. The Ephs had 12 hits, led by Ali Hart, who was 3 -4 with a run scored, and Graebner, who was 2-4 with two RBI and two runs scored.

Lesenskyj took the loss for Middlebury, allowing 12 hits over six innings while walking two and fanning one. Boylan was 2-3 for the Panthers.

In the opener, Morris and Eph Emma Harrington engaged in a tightly contested pitcher's duel. Middlebury scored in the first when Harrington walked the bases loaded and Kraytenberg scored Bicks with a fielder's choice.

Williams tied the game in the second when Graebner reached on an error, was sacrificed to third and scored on a wild pitch.

The game remained 1-1 until the top of the seventh. Sophomore Alex Scibetta (Ridgewood, N.J.) grounded a single to left with one out for the Panthers. A Bicks sacrifice put her on second with two outs when Hoffman struck her dramatic blow.

In the bottom of the seventh, Zoe Dillon-Davidson singled with two outs, but Morris retired the next batter on a pop up to end the game. Morris allowed just two hits over seven innings while not walking a batter and striking out six while improving to 5-1. Hoffman and Sable were both 2-3 for the Panthers.

Harrington took the loss for Williams, giving up seven hits and four walks while striking out six in the defeat.

In game three, Morris and Emma Harrington of Williams engaged in a classic pitcher's duel that lasted until the final batter, and for the second day in a row Morris emerged the victor as the Panthers posted a 1-0 win over the Ephs Saturday morning at Cole Field.

The game's lone run came in the top of the fourth when the Panthers worked some two-out magic. With no one on and two outs, Downing grounded a single up the middle. Sable followed with a long drive to right that one-hopped the fence and allowed Downing to score all the way from first with an RBI-double.

Williams had its chances, stranded nine runners over seven innings. The Ephs had a runner on second with one out in the second and runners on first and second and one out in the third, but Morris escaped each time.

Williams loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth, but again Morris escaped, getting a pop up to end the frame. The Ephs put runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, but a fielder's choice and pop up ended the threat.

In the Williams sixth, Merrilee Weston singled with one out, but Morris retired the final five batters she faced to close out the victory. She improved to 6-1 on the season, allowing six hits and one walk while striking out two.

Harrington took the loss, giving up just five hits while walking three and striking out nine. She fell to 10-5 on the season.

Sable was 1-2 with a walk and an RBI for Middlebury. Lindsey Precht was 1-2 with a walk for the Ephs.

• Softball team record: 18-10

• Up next: 4/25 @ Plymouth – 3:30, 4/27 @ Amherst (1) – 5:00, 4/28 @ Amherst – 12