Baseball Wins First NESCAC Championship

May 14, 2006

Sophomore starter Jack Britton was nearly flawless, tossing an 11-strikeout complete-game to lift the Middlebury College baseball team to their first NESCAC Championship on Sunday in an 8-1 win over Tufts. The Panthers (24-9) finish the NESCAC Championship with a perfect 3-0 mark, pounding out a tournament-record 59 hits to earn the NESCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Tufts (24-14) finish the tourney with a 2-2 record after beating Bowdoin to reach the championship round on Sunday afternoon.

Britton was sensational, allowing no earned runs and striking out at least one Tufts batter in every inning. The Panthers got on the board in the opening frame, scoring on a bloop single by Noah Walker that plated John Lanahan to give Middlebury a 1-0 edge. Tufts tied the score in the top of the third frame, when Jim O'Leary reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and came home on a double to right-center by Brian McDonough.

Middlebury took the lead for good in the third inning when they pieced together a two-out rally. Walker singled to center and went to third on a base-hit by Mark Shimrock. He came home on an infield single by Alex Casnocha to give the Panthers a 2-1 edge.

Lanahan gave Middlebury a commanding lead in the bottom of the fourth, blasting an 0-2 delivery by Jason Protano over the right-field wall for a two-run homer and a 4-1 edge. The Panthers, who batted an astounding .484 for the tournament, added four more runs for good measure in the sixth frame, highlighted by RBI hits from Lanahan, Walker and Joe Ramoin. Britton (5-2) closed out the win with a flourish, striking out Kevin Casey for the final out of the game.

John Lanahan was unquestionably the hitting star of the weekend, collecting four hits on Sunday and posting a .786 batting average with a tournament-record 11 hits in 14 at-bats. Nick Lefeber, who had three hits on Sunday, tied the tournament mark with seven runs scored, while Noah Walker tied the record for doubles with three.

Middlebury will find out its fate when the NCAA selections are announced on Monday morning.

The Middlebury seniors with coach Bob Smith.

-photos courtesy Bowdoin--