The Bates baseball team took their talents to Northborough, Massachusetts on Saturday for a doubleheader against Middlebury. Although both teams are members of the NESCAC, the two games were considered non-conference.
Senior right-hander Connor Colombo got the start on the mound in Game One. Colombo pitched beautifully, as he lasted six innings, only gave up two hits, and conceded zero earned runs. The one run Middlebury was able to score was off an error. Coming off a 4-1 campaign on the mound last season, this was Colombo’s first win of 2016.
Middlebury began the game with a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Catcher Max Araya hit a double with two outs. Then, junior first baseman Jason Lock brought Araya home on a Bates error.
After a scoreless bottom of the first, the Bobcat bats came alive in the second. Sophomore Asher McDonald hit a two out single, and then junior Eric Vilanova hit his first career home run to dead center.
Middlebury starter Colby Morris and Colombo were firing on all cylinders, as neither team could score a run off the two pitchers for the rest of the game. Bates reliever Rob DiFranco entered the game in the top of the seventh to finish off the Panthers. However, DiFranco did make Bobcat fans a little nervous after giving up a single and a walk to start the inning. Middlebury had two runners on base with no outs. Then on a sacrifice bunt, the Panthers put the two runners in scoring position. Uh oh. But the Bates senior proved to be unfazed as he forced the next two batters to ground out. Game over. The Bobcats were able to pull out a hard fought 2-1 win in the first contest of the doubleheader.
Bates sophomore Connor Speed headed out onto the mound in the afternoon game. The Panthers started the scoring off with two runs in the bottom of the second. The runs were the product of a Brendan Donohue double. After Middlebury scored another run in the third, Bates found themselves down 3-0.
In the top of the fourth, junior John Dinucci stepped to the plate and sensed that the Bobcats needed a big play to get the game going. Dinucci blasted a line drive double to right center field. Next up was senior Conor Reenstierna; he wasted no time, bringing Dinucci home on a double just one pitch into the at-bat. The Panthers’ outfielders then took a few steps bat as junior Brendan Fox headed to the plate. Fox has had a red hot start to the 2016 season. Through 11 games he is hitting .500 with a homer and 12 RBIs. Fox stayed on fire by hitting a two-run homer to tie the game at 3.
The next few innings were uneventful as both pitchers settled into the game. Bates senior relief pitch Chris Ward retired the side in order to send the game into extra innings. Ward was still on the mound in the bottom of the 9th with the score locked at 3-3. Middlebury outfielder Sam Graf hit a shot to left field that just made it over the fence, and the Panthers mobbed the freshmen after his dramatic first career home run.
Following a 9-7 loss to Husson the following day, Bates is 5-7 on the season. Their next action will be another doubleheader, this time at Salem State on Saturday.