Baseball Tops Bowdoin In NCAA Play

May 18, 2006

Middlebury won its first NCAA Tournament game as they picked up a 10-8 win over Bowdoin in their second game at the NCAA Regional in Harwich, Massachusetts. The Panthers advance to take on Salem State on Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. Middlebury improves on its school record with 25 wins on the season with 10 losses.

The Polar Bears pieced together a rally in the bottom of the first, keyed by a pair of Middlebury errors. Chris McCann led off the inning by reaching on an Gabe Broughton error. After stealing second, Lawrie attempted to sacrifice him to second, but pitcher Jack Britton's throw to first was off-target, setting the Polar Bears up with runners on the corners. McCann came home on a groundball to first by Ricky Leclerc to give Bowdoin a 1-0 lead, but Britton escaped further trouble by getting Joe Berte on a flyball to right to end the threat.

The Panthers deadlocked the score with back-to-back baserunners in the second inning, as Walker earned a base-on-balls and went to second on a Mark Shimrock single to center. Walker stole third and came home on a Alex Casnocha fly to left, making it a 1-1 ballgame. The Panthers took the lead in the second inning when Nick Lefeber led off the frame with a solo home-run. The sophomore catcher took a 1-0 delivery from Trevor Powers over the left-field fence for his third homer of the season and a 2-1 Middlebury lead.

Head Coach Bob Smith congratulates Nick Lefeber on his home run.

Middlebury looked to add to their total in the fourth frame, as a walk and hit set the Panthers up with runners on the corners with one away. A sacrifice fly by Broughton plated Casnocha for a 3-1 Panther advantage. Bowdoin evened the score in the bottom of the fourth after Middlebury appeared to be out of the inning. Leclerc reached base on a dropped pop-fly, but Britton responded by getting Jon Koperniak swinging for what should of been the third out of the frame. But the ball got past Lafeber and to the screen, allowing Koperniak to reach on a passed ball. The next batter, Nick Lawler, rifled a double down the left field line and into the corner, scoring both runs and tying the game at three apiece. Middlebury regained the lead right away in the fifth inning, as Panther captain Ryan Armstrong took a 1-0 delivery from Powers over the right-center field fence for his second round-tripper of the year and a 4-3 lead.

Bowdoin responded in the bottom of the fifth, as Chris Bucci laced a double over the head of right-fielder Joe Ramoin to lead-off the inning. After McCann was retired, Bucci moved to third when John Lawrie reached on an error. Then, in a bizarre play, Lemieux grounded back to Britton. Britton attempted to get Bucci off third, but the throw got tipped off the glove of third-baseman John Lanahan, allowing Bucci to come home with the tying run. A throw to home plate got past Lefeber, and Lawrie scampered home to give Bowdoin the lead. Lemieux ended up at third after the play and came home on a sacrifice fly by Leclerc to give the Polar Bears a 6-4 edge. Bowdoin added a run as Joe Berte came home later in the inning on a wild pitch to push the lead to 7-4 heading into the sixth.

In the top of the seventh, Armstrong reached on a single and Lanahan walked with one away for the Panthers. Armstrong moved to third on a flyball and came home on a single by Noah Walker to cut the lead to 7-5. The next batter, Mark Shimrock, slapped a single to center that fell just beyond the reach of Lemieux and that scored Lanahan and Walker to even the game at seven apiece.

Middlebury opened the eighth frame with consecutive singles by Gabe Broughton and Nick Lefeber. Tyler Turgeon struck out Ryan Armstrong for the first out of the inning before hitting Lanahan with a pitch, loading the bases for Ramoin. Turgeon whiffed Ramoin on a 3-2 pitch for the second out, but Walker lofted a soft single to left-center with two strikes, scoring two runs to regain the lead for the Panthers, 9-7. An error by McCann allowed another run to score, giving Middlebury a 10-7 edge. Mark Bulger came in to close out the inning, keeping the Bowdoin deficit at three runs.

Bowdoin loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth, as McCann singled before Lawrie and Lemieux reached on errors. Ricky Leclerc grounded into a double-play, scoring McCann and cutting the lead to 10-8. Joe Berte grounded out to first base to end the game, as Middlebury held on to win, despite making a season-high eight errors.

Britton (6-2) allowed no earned runs to get the win for Middlebury, while Wright earned the save- his first of the season. Wright saw his first action in 19 days, after being sidelined with an injury. The Panthers got three hits apiece from Broughton and Lefeber, while Walker had three runs-batted-in. Bowdoin got two hits from McCann, while Leclerc and Lawler had two runs-batted-in apiece.