May 2, 2011


The Panther baseball team is headed to the NESCAC Tournament for the first time since 2006, when they won the tournament. Middlebury finished second in the NESCAC West with an 8-4 record and will travel to Amherst for the tournament this weekend.

Last week, Middlebury earned its fourth and fifth shutouts of the season, handing St. Michael’s 4-0 and 1-0 losses in games played on Forbes Field. The Panther pitching staff has now allowed just one run in its last 39 innings of work. Middlebury improves to 14-9 overall, while the Purple Knights fall to 5-23.

            In game one, rookie hurler Dylan Kane (Sands Point, N.Y.) tossed his first complete game, earning a shutout with seven scoreless innings. He scattered eight hits in the game, striking out three while only walking one.

First-year player Alex Kelly (Rockville, Md.) led off the third inning with a single through the right side for the Panthers, before sophomore Thomas Driscoll (New Canaan, Conn.) reached on a bunt single to third. Following a pair of fly outs, junior Zach Roeder (Keene, N.H.) plated both runners with a single to right. Sophomore Thomas Rafferty (Chicago, Ill.) followed with a single as Roeder moved to third. Sophomore Michael Morris (Scarsdale, N.Y.) kept the rally going with a single to right, scoring Roeder and giving Middlebury a 3-0 advantage.

The Panthers added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, as senior Tyler Wark (Burlington, Vt.) singled through the left side to drive in Morris, who had reached on an error.

            Eight different players had hits for Middlebury, including a 2-3 game from Kelly. Alec Tice paced St. Michael’s, going 3-3 with a double, while Tyler Wilder was 2-3. Austin Ziskie (0-5) took the loss, allowing four runs, three earned, and striking out four over six innings of work.

Four Middlebury pitchers combined to allow just one St. Michael’s hit in game two, as the Panthers scored a solo run in the second to earn a 1-0 victory. Rookie Patrick Dyer (Chicago, Ill.) earned his first career win, allowing no hits over three innings of work. Junior Will Baine (Rye, N.Y.) tossed a pair of scoreless innings, while senior Scooter Scott (Marlboro, Vt.)  allowed a lone single in the sixth. Sophomore John Popkowski (New York, N.Y.) tied the school’s single-season save record with his third of the season, pitching a one, two, three seventh.

            St. Michael’s best chance to score came in the top of the second, but the Purple Knights left runners on second and third.

In the bottom of the inning, Rafferty singled to right with one out, scoring on a double to left by Morris for the game’s only run. The Panthers had runners on base in innings 3-6, but could not add to their lead, leaving eight on base.

            Rafferty finished the game 3-3, while Morris had a double. Tice had the only hit for the Purple Knights. Andrew Kelly (1-3) threw well, going six innings and allowing just one run on six hits, while striking out seven batters.     

Michael Rueger went 7-10 with three doubles, three runs, and three RBI to lead the Trinity College Bantams to a 9/11-6/2 doubleheader sweep against visiting Middlebury in NESCAC crossover baseball action on Saturday. Trinity improves to 18-14 and extends its winning streak to four games, while the Panthers drop to 14-11. Trinity came back from a 6-0 deficit in the opener, which was a seven-inning game, with three runs in the fourth inning and six in the seventh, while rookie Peter Burrows tossed 3.1 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win. Bantam RHP Andrew Janiga hurled a six-hitter over nine innings in the nightcap with one walk and four strikeouts.

Middlebury scored six runs in the first three innings of the day. Roeder blasted a two-run homer in the first, Kelly added an RBI single in the second, and Wark keyed a three-run third with a two-out, two-run single in the third frame. Trinity rallied for three runs in the bottom of the fourth, highlighted by an RBI double from Kevin Mortimer, and took the lead for good when Rueger doubled home two runs to tie it at 6-6 and scored on a double by Mark Young in the sixth. The Bantams pounded out 18 hits in game two, as Rueger was 4-for-6 and both Young and Mortimer were 3-4.  Senior Donald McKillop (Poway, Calif.) was 3-4 in the first game for Middlebury.
• Baseball team record: 14-11
• Up next: 5/4 @ Plymouth, 5/7 @ Bowdoin (2), 5/8 vs. Tufts (2) – 12:00