Crisp air and bare trees can only signal one thing: the dawn of the winter sports season. As fall sports wind down at Middlebury, it’s time to turn our attention to the 14 varsity winter sports teams that are set to compete over the next few months. Here are previews for every varsity winter sports team.
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The baseball team capped the week with a 2–1 record against Southwestern University in its first non-conference series of the year. The Southwestern Pirates put up three runs in the first inning of the series opener -- all runs coming with two outs. The Panthers got on the board in the top of the sixth when infielder Justin Han ’20 was walked and outfielder Henry Strmecki ’21 scored on two errors. Two runners were stranded in the top of the seventh as the Panthers were unable to tack on a game-tying run. Trailing 2–0 after the fourth inning of game two, a walk from infielder Hayden Smith ’20 and a two-run homer from infielder Andrew Gough ’22 got the fifth-inning rally started for the Panthers. With the bases loaded, senior infielder Kevin Woodring hit a grand slam to put Middlebury ahead, 7–2. The Panthers added a run in the top of the sixth, ultimately winning 8–4. Pitcher Alex Price ’22 earned the win over five innings, allowing just two runs and four hits with seven strikeouts. In the series rubber match, the Panthers pushed across three runs in the top of the 11th inning, putting the finishing touches on a 9-8 victory. Pitcher Drew Martinson ’20 picked up the win on two scoreless innings, striking out three.
With a series win against the Amherst Mammoths, the Middlebury baseball team (23-10, 7-5) clinched a spot in the NESCAC Championship playoffs for the fourth time in program history and the second time in three seasons. The Panthers started the week with a 12-3 win versus Union College (18-20, 14-10), adding a single-game program record of 17 walks and 12 stolen bases. Middlebury took a 5-1 lead in the third inning on three Union erros and six walks. In the top of the fifth inning, Middlebury tacked on six runs in three hits. FIrst-year pitcher Alex Rosario received the win, starting five innings, only giving up one run on three hits, with seven strikeouts. Senior pitcher Colby Morris tossed a scoreless inning against Union. “We basically just let the game come to us,” Morris said. “Their pitchers weren’t throwing strikes and we were patient at the plate and worked walks to get on base. Conversely, we threw strikes on the mound and forced contact from their hitters, essentially controlling the game from the get-go.” In Game one against Amherst (16-14-1, 6-6), Middlebury scored three runs in the 10th inning to earn a 6-4 win over the Mammoths. Morris threw nine innings against Amherst, allowing just three runs and striking out six batters. With his 18th career victory, Morris moves into third-place all time with 168 strikeouts. Junior second baseman Andrew Hennings went 4-for-6 with an RBI single. In Game two, Middlebury eliminated Amherst from postseason contention and clinched a NESCAC playoff spot. Amherst took the lead in the bottom of the second inning, but Middlebury responded in the top of the third with an RBI single from Hennings, evening the game out at 1-1. Middlebury took the lead with an RBI single up the middle from senior catcher Phil Bernstein in the top of the fourth. First-year pitcher Alex Price earned the win over six and two-thirds innings of work, allowing one run on four hits and striking out five. Junior Andrew Martinson got a groundout to the shortstop to end the game and collect his first save of the year. Game three started with three scoreless frames from the Panthers to open the contest. Amherst scored one run in each of the first three innings to lead 3-0. The Panthers responded in the fourth inning, loading the bases with two outs. Sophomore center fielder Henry Strmecki hit a clutch two-run single up the middle, cutting the lead to 3-2. First-year second baseman Andrew Gough added an RBI single to put the Panthers ahead. Amherst won on a walk-off after loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the ninth. Carroll went 2-for-3 for the Panthers with one stolen base. Sophomore pitcher George Goldstein took the loss in relief. “Against Amherst, the games all happened in a similar manner,” Morris said. “Each of the three games were pitchers’ duels as each team commanded the strike zone and worked efficiently on the mount. We were able to put pressure on their defense, stealing bases and just scrapped enough to outscore them in the first two games. On the mound, our pitchers really executed well in clutch situations to kill their momentum and keep the game within reach until we took the lead.” Junior infielder Brooks Carroll boasted an OBP of .529 over the week, walking five times, stealing five bases and driving in a pair of runs. Middlebury will face the Tufts University Jumbos (26-8, 10-2), in its first game of the tournament at 6 p.m. this Friday at Colby College. The Panthers have made it to the NESCAC Championship series twice, and won their only NESCAC title in 2006. Tufts is the top seed in the East for the sixth straight year, after sweeping Colby College. The Jumbos have played in the last four championship series and won their fourth NESCAC title in 2017. “We are preparing for the tournament like any other weekend series,” Morris said. “As we don’t have any midweek games the next few days, we should have extra time to focus on specific defensive plays and get ready for important situations that these intense games will likely produce. The pitchers will get some much-needed rest for our arms and our position guys should get some live at bats during practice this week too. We are headed up Thursday night to Colby College and will be locked in and ready to bring the noise against Tufts on Friday night.”
The Middlebury Panthers (20-9, 5-4) wrapped up a four-game week with a series win over the Wesleyan University Cardinals (14-15, 4-5) in a NESCAC West matchup. In a 9-4 win versus Plymouth State (13-20, 4-9), Middlebury scored four times in the second inning. Plymouth State scored a run and loaded the bases in the eight, but left runners stranded and the Panthers added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the inning to win the game. Freshman pitcher Alex Rosario allowed just three runs on five hits over four innings. Senior pitcher Colby Morris received the win on a scoreless inning of relief. “We were successful because we were playing loose and having fun playing instead of feeling like there was a ton of pressure on us to win,” junior pitcher Andrew Martinson said. In the first matchup against the Wesleyan Cardinals, the Panthers scored in the third inning when junior third baseman Hayden Smith reached base on an infield error and stole second base, moving into scoring position. Junior left fielder Justin Han drove Smith in on an RBI single down right-center field. The Panthers took the lead in the bottom of the fourth, off a solo home run from junior first baseman Kevin Woodring. Wesleyan pulled ahead in the seventh, and the Panthers threaten in its final at bat, but were unable to pull ahead. Junior catcher Gray Goolsby went 2-for-4 with two doubles. Morris threw a complete game, allowing four runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. In Sunday’s doubleheader, the Panthers swept the Cardinals, winning 5-2 and 8-4. In the first contest, Middlebury jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Panthers extended its lead in the bottom of the second with an RBI single from Woodring and an RBI double from sophomore center fielder Henry Strmecki. Freshman pitcher Alex Price earned the win with six innings of work, allowing two runs on five hits, and striking out four. Earlier in the week, he tossed a hitless inning against Plymouth State. Sophomore pitcher George Goldstein earned the save on an inning of relief. In Game 2, Middlebury scored a pair of unearned runs in its first at-bat. In the bottom of the fourth, the Panthers took a 3-2 lead on a sacrifice fly to drive in senior left fiedler Sam Graf. Middlebury scored twice in the seventh, with an RBI double from Graf. In the eighth, junior Alan Guild, who went 1-for-1 pinch hitting, homered and Strmecki scored an unearned run. Martinson received the win on two innings of scoreless relief. Graf went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI, junior shortstop Brooks Carroll added two RBIs. On the week, Woodring hit .538, with a double, a home run, and two RBIs. He went 5-for-11 against Wesleyan, with an OBP of .500 and was perfect in the field with 25 putouts. The Panthers face Amherst College (15-12-1, 5-4) in its next NESCAC West matchup, beginning Friday, May 3rd at 4 p.m. at Amherst. “We’re preparing to keep the same mentality this weekend by having fun and playing loose and trusting that our work in the fall and winter is going to pay off,” Martinson said.
In an undefeated week, the baseball team (17-8, 3-3) defeated Division I Dartmouth College (12-21, 6-9), 15-7, on Tuesday, April 16, for the first time since 1950 and beat SUNY Plattsburgh (10-17, 5-10) 17-1 the following day. Middlebury had 18 hits by 11 different players and stole eight bases during the game, four coming from first-year right fielder Alec Ritch. The Panthers unleashed a six-run sixth inning to establish a 14-7 lead over the Big Green. Left fielder Justin Han ’20 capped the inning with a base-clearing triple. According to director of baseball operations, Jack Langerman ’19, the team was successful by not trying to do too much. “We are a really good baseball team, 1-34 on the roster, and at times early in the year that added stress because we tried to do too much,” Langerman said. “When we relaxed and trusted ourselves, the results spoke for themselves.” Middlebury wasted no time taking the lead, when junior catcher Gray Goolsby hit his first home run of the year for a quick 3-0 lead in the first frame. Dartmouth chipped into Middlebury’s lead with a run from senior shortstop Nate Ostmo. The Panthers responded with two runs on a hit batter, walk, a double steal, wild pitch and infield hit in the third. First-year second baseman Andrew Gough rapped out a triple, and Han added a single to drive in two runs in the top of the fourth. Junior third baseman Hayden Smith hit an RBI double in the fifth to make the lead 8-4. The team’s pitching staff held the Dartmouth bats scoreless for the final four frames. Sophomore pitcher Evan Stewart received his first win of the season on 1.2 shutout innings of relief. Han went 4-for-6 with four RBIs to lead the team in the leadoff spot for the Panthers. Senior center fielder Sam Graf added a pair of hits, three runs, and two RBIs. Dartmouth was held to just six hits and stranded 13 runners. “A win against a Division I team is huge as it’s our first win against them [Dartmouth] since 1950,” Langerman said. “At the end of the day, however, we know we are a good team, and we know if we play how we can, we have a chance to win against anyone.” In a 17-1 non-conference win versus Plattsburgh, the Cardinals recorded just five hits to the Panthers’ 19. Middlebury scored in seven different innings in the win with thirteen different Panthers recording hits. Junior shortstop Brooks Carroll went 2-for-3 with a game-high five RBIs for Middlebury and Gough went 3-for-4 with three runs. First-year pitcher Alex Rosario earned his first career win, retiring his first 13 batters, only giving up two hits over six innings with four strikeouts and no walks. First-year Jackson Atwood got the save on three innings of relief, giving up one run on three hits. The Panthers return to action at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 24 at home against Plymouth State (11-17 overall), followed by a NESCAC West matchup versus Wesleyan University beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 26 at home. “The season is in front of us,” Langerman said. “These next games will be what defines our season, especially the six in the NESCAC. If we show up and play how everybody knows we can, there’s no reason why NESCACs won’t end in a dog pile in Waterville, Maine. That being said, we have a lot of work to do and have to keep at it.”
The baseball team (15-8, 3-3) capped the week with a 2-2 record, unable to hold off the Williams College Ephs (3-3, 16-5) in the final game of the week, dropping the rubber match of the series 5-4 in extra innings on Saturday, April 13. Strong pitching resulted in a midweek 12-2 win for the Panthers on Forbes Field versus Northern Vermont University (10-17, 5-3) on Thursday, April 11. Leading off the inning, sophomore first baseman Ryan Hanrahan got things rolling in the bottom of the second with a single. First-year right fielder Alec Ritch reached base on a single and first-year shortstop Andrew Gough delivered a two-run double to left center to give Middlebury the lead. Northern Vermont responded in the top of the third, tying the game up at 2-2, but the Panthers restored a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the inning. The Hornets were unable to respond the rest of the game with the Panthers plating two more runs in the fourth inning, two in the fifth, one in the sixth, and finally two in the seventh. Gough led the team, going three-for-five with five RBIs and junior left fielder stole two bases. First-year pitcher Jackson Atwood started on the mound for the Panthers, going four innings with four strikeouts. First-year Sam Grace received his second career win on one inning of work, facing four and striking out one. According to first-year outfielder Jack Stolper, the team was able to adjust well. “A lot of our success comes from our approach at the plate,” Stolper said. “When we change our approach from hitting fly balls to hitting hard ground balls and line drives, we score and drive in more runs. When we try and lift the ball too much in the air, we tend to fly out a lot more and make it much easier on the defense.” In a three-game series versus NESCAC West opponent, the Panthers dropped down to second place in the conference after going 1-2 on the weekend. Middlebury dropped the first game 2-1 on Friday, April 12 before splitting a double-header with a 10-0 win and a 5-4 loss in 10 innings at the nightcap on Saturday, April 13. In Game one, the Ephs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, after a scoreless first inning from both squads. The Panthers got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth when sophomore center fielder Henry Strmecki lead off with a double down the left-field alley. Junior second baseman was walked to put a man on first and second and junior third baseman Hayden Smith hit a sacrifice bunt to advance runners to scoring position. Junior first baseman Kevin Woodring cut the deficit to 2-1 with an RBI single. The Panthers struggled to match the performance of senior starting pitcher Colby Morris, who suffered his first loss of the season, after facing 29 batters and striking out a season-high eight and only surrendering one earned run. Sophomore George Goldstein added two innings of scoreless relief. In Game two, the Ephs were unable to put up a run over nine innings. Middlebury broke out with an early 2-0 lead in the top of the third. The Panthers added five runs in the fifth, to bring the lead to 7-0. Senior designated hitter Sam Graf drove in a runner on an RBI double to left center. An Ephs error allowed a run for Middlebury, along with a two run homerun from Woodring. First-year pitcher Alex Price threw six innings of one-hit relief to earn the win over Williams, striking out two batters. The Panthers dropped Game three to the fourth ranked NESCAC West Ephs in walk-off fashion, 5-4, to close the series at Williams. Middlebury trailed 3-0 after the first but took a 4-3 lead after the fourth inning. Junior catcher Gray Goolsby finished three-for-five with three stolen bases and a run scored and Han went two-for-five with a pair of doubles, two stolen bases and two RBIs. With his 42nd career stolen base, Han became Middlebury’s all-time leader in stolen bases. Han also hit .412 last week for the Panthers and surpassed 100 career hits. Senior pitcher Colin Waters took the mound in the first six innings, striking out seven. Sophomore Bobby Sullivan took his first loss of the season with two innings pitched and three strikeouts. In Game three, Middlebury achieved a season-best nine stolen bases, with 90 on the season, a new school record. Most recently, Middlebury traveled to face Division I Dartmouth College (11-19, 5-7) out of the Ivy League and won 15-7. They will follow this win with another midweek matchup versus Plattsburgh State (7-15, 3-9) on Wed., April 17 at home. Finally, the Panthers will face top-seeded NESCAC West opponent, Amherst College (14-8, 5-4) starting Friday, April 19. “We are going into the rest of NESCAC play confident,” Stolper said. “We need to play our game and start driving the ball on the ground or on a line. We have been making it too easy on our defenders by hitting too many balls in the air. A big thing for us going into NESCAC play is to challenge defenses by putting balls hard and in play.”
The Middlebury baseball team (13-6, 2-1) improved to 13-6 on the season after splitting a double-header with Tufts University (15-4, 2-1) on Saturday, April 6, and picking up a win versus Plymouth State University (9-11, 2-3) on Sunday, April 7. With no conference matchups this past week, the Panther remain on top of the NESCAC West at a 2-1 conference record. In its first matchup against Tufts, who rank second in the NESCAC East, Middlebury suffered a 4-3 loss in eight innings. According to senior catcher Phil Bernstein, the Panthers played great baseball all weekend, despite the loss. “We were excited to play Tufts who is always a threat to win the NESCAC,” Bernstein said. “Although we lost the first game in extra innings, we played really well and made not just the routine plays, but the championship level ones: outfielders throwing runners out at the plate, two-strike hits to knock in base runners, and pitching out of jams.” The Jumbos broke out with a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. The Panthers went scoreless until the third inning, and finally took a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth when junior shortstop Brooks Carroll was walked with one out. Sophomore designated hitter Jake Dianno reached base on a single. Both stole bases to get into scoring position and senior right-fielder Sam Graf singled down right field to score two runs. With his 38th career stolen base, Carroll moved into third place in program history. With the game tied up in the bottom of the sixth, the Jumbos closed out the opener with a sac-fly in the bottom of the eight. Senior pitcher Colby Morris tossed six innings for the Panthers, only allowing three earned runs with four strikeouts. “It’s always tough to lose a game where you play that well, but we responded in the second game by putting a lot of runs on the scoreboard and maintaining our lead throughout the game,” Bernstein said. In the second game of the double-header, Middlebury went up 4-0 by scoring in each of the first three innings. Junior third baseman Hayden Smith began the lead with a single to drive in a run, Bernstein added an RBI single in the second, and sophomore center fielder Henry Stremecki hit a homerun in the third. The Panthers added insurance with another run in the ninth with a walk to Stremecki, who stole base twice. Stremecki was eventually brought home on a sacrifice fly by Smith. Junior pitcher Andrew Martinson relieved senior Conor Himstead to strike out one in one inning of work to earn the win, setting up sophomore Bobby Sullivan for his first career save with one punchout of his own. With a quick turnaround after the doubleheader with Tufts, the Panthers were back on the field hours later for its first home game of the season. According to Bernstein, head coach Mike Leonard stressed the importance of winning their weekends and the team was hungry for a third win. “We came out loose for our first home game of the season and backed it up with stellar pitching performances and by hitting the ball all over the yard,” Bernstein said. “We put big numbers on the scoreboard and expanded that lead every inning. It was good to end the weekend on that high note.” In the 15-6 victory, Bernstein finished 3-for-4 with three doubles and three RBIs. Carroll reached base twice and scored two runs; junior first baseman Alad Guild and junior designated hitter Kevin Woodring each went two-for-two. Sophomore pitcher Michael Farinelli received the win after hurling a strong six innings, surrendering one earned run with eight strikeouts. Coming off Tommy-John surgery in his first game back, junior pitcher Spencer Shores relieved Farinelli, throwing a scoreless seventh inning. The Panthers will face Northern Vermont University (7-15, 2-2) at 4 p.m. on Wed., April 10 at home, and Williams College (13-3, 1-2) in a NESCAC West three-game series starting at 4 pm. on Friday, April 12. “Going into our weekend with Williams, we’re trying to play the same brand of baseball we’ve played all season,” Bernstein said. “We’re going to be aggressive in every facet of the game and take advantage of their mistakes. We have an extremely talented group of guys so if we can just continue to play loose and trust our preparation, I think some good things will be in store for us.”
The Middlebury baseball team (3-2, 0-0) improved its non-conference record to 3-2, after a three-win week facing Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on March 14 (3-4, 0-0) followed by a three-game series against Emory University (7-8, 0-0) on Saturday, March 16 and Sunday, March 17. Last Thursday, the Panthers showed up on the road against Rensselaer. They rallied for 11 late runs to ease past the Engineers despite a silent first two innings. The game ended up finishing early by the eighth inning because of darkness. Middlebury blew the game open in the seventh inning, scoring seven runs on just six hits. The squad found 12 hits with five players rounding out the frame with two hits each: right fielder Justin Han ’20, center fielder Henry Strmecki ’21, third baseman Hayden Smith ’20, second baseman Andrew Gough ’22 and left fielder Sam Graf ’19. The team also totaled eight stolen bases. In his first collegiate start, first-year pitcher Alex Rosario gave up just one run on no hits. Rosario lasted for three innings, and was followed by pitcher George Goldstein ’21 (1-0), who ultimately managed to pick up the win. Goldstein allowed one run on two hits over three innings. The Panthers also closed out a three-game series against Emory in Atlanta. Middlebury, unaffected by the travel, opened up the fight with a doubleheader sweep, followed by a loss on Sunday. On Saturday, Middlebury totaled 26 runs over the two meetings, beating the Eagles 10-5 and 16-5. According to pitcher Spencer Shores ’20, this week’s success came from the ability to capitalize on Rensselaer’s and Emory’s mistakes. “We were able to steal bases and take advantage of walks and errors to score runs,” Shores said. “Our pitching was effective in throwing strikes and being aggressive at hitters, putting our pitchers in advantageous counts to get outs.” Smith and shortstop Brooks Carroll ’20 led the team during the doubleheader with four runs and four RBIs respectively in each game, including a home run from Carroll. Sophomore pitcher Bobby Sullivan (1-0) managed to capture the win with three innings of relief. Sullivan’s performance limited the Eagles to no runs and just one hit with a pair of strikeouts. On Sunday, the Panthers fell to the Eagles 8-2 after Emory jumped out to an early lead, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. According to Shores, Middlebury gave up too many free opportunities in the field, pitching and hitting. “Overall, the team played well but miscues in timely situations — whether that be walks, errors, or outs at bat — put us in a tough position to win the game,” Shores said. “Emory’s pitcher was also a very talented and was able to pitch effectively late into the game.” This week has provided Middlebury with valuable on field experiences the team has lacked at home due to the icy Vermont weather. “We have proven to ourselves our ability to compete against quality baseball teams,” Shores said. “Emory has gone to the College World Series three of the past five years. Our coaching staff and players have been able to better access what roles individuals need to fill for our success as the season continues.” The Panthers return to the diamond for their Spring Break trip in Florida beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 23 for a doubleheader versus Lawrence University (1-5, 0-0). Middlebury will play a total of 10 games, including its first NESCAC matchup in a three-game series against Hamilton College (4-1, 0-0).
After rallying for a comeback in the ninth inning, the Middlebury College baseball team (0-1, 0-0) sent its first non-conference game of the season versus the Stevens Institute Ducks (2-4, 0-0) to extra innings. The Panthers ultimately lost 5-4 last Saturday at Stevens. The Panthers scored in the top of the first on an infield single by sophomore infielder Ryan Hanrahan, who was later driven in by senior right fielder Sam Graf on a sacrifice fly. The Ducks responded with a two run inning, setting the score to 1-2, and then with another run in the seventh inning to increase their lead, 1-3. Middlebury then went scoreless until the ninth inning. According to senior catcher Phil Bernstein, having the mentality to get on base is key for the Panthers. “Ultimately, it comes down to our approach at the plate,” Bernstein said. “We simply struck out way too much and didn’t put any pressure on their defense and for us to be successful we need to put the ball in play and make their fielders actually feel the ball cleanly and make the play. We gave their pitcher too much credit by not changing our approach with two strikes and forcing them to earn the out.” Senior pitcher Colby Morris started on the mound for the Panthers, adding four strikeouts on six innings. Stevens sophomore pitcher Joseph Deitz received the win for the Ducks, after pitching the final 1.2 innings and striking out one batter. The Panthers’ ninth inning comeback started with a center field single by Hanrahan, which drove home junior shortstop Brooks Carroll. Carroll hit .500 for Middlebury, with one run and one RBI. Sophomore center fielder Henry Strmecki scored on a sacrifice fly by junior catcher Gray Goolsby to put Middlebury in the lead. The Ducks then responded with two runs in the bottom of the 10th inning, scoring on a Panther fielding error. The Panthers return to the field at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2-3, 0-0) at 4 p.m. this Thursday, followed by a three-game series against Emory University (6-4, 0-0) starting at 12 p.m. this Saturday in Atlanta. “The loss left a bad taste in our mouth and we’re excited to get back in competing again against RPI,” Bernstein said. “It’ll be a chance for us to flush the loss and get our minds right before we head to down to Atlanta to take on Emory. We open our season competing against high level competition who have been playing games outside for weeks now and our only experience since the fall has been indoors in the field house. In the past we’ve made that an excuse and this year we’re using it as a crutch in order to prove we belong in the conversation with those teams down south. This week is going to be super important for understanding who we are and how we handle adversity and respond to it.”