GEORGETOWN, Texas – The Southwestern University Pirates baseball team committed two errors in the top of the 11th inning, surrendering three runs in a 9-8 extra-innings loss to the Middlebury College Panthers, dropping the series 2-1.
Justin Han opened the game with a leadoff walk for Middlebury and advanced to second when Henry Strmecki grounded out to shortstop. Andrew Hennings followed with an RBI-single up the middle before starting pitcher Cole Johnson got out of the inning.
The Panthers had a nearly identical second, leading off with an Alec Ritch single and then advanced Ritch on a Gray Goolsby groundout. Andrew Gough followed with a RBI-single up the middle to take a 2-0 lead.
Southwestern responded in the bottom of the second with a Ted Lobkowicz RBI-double to left field, scoring Lance Kruse, who hit a leadoff single to right and advanced on a Seth Sparks groundout to third.
Trey Dees took over for Johnson in the top of the third, walking Hennings to start the inning and then retiring the next three in order.
The Pirates opened the bottom of the third with three of their first four batters reaching to load the bases but grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to leave two stranded.
Middlebury carried the momentum into the fourth when Gough hit a two-run blast, scoring Ritch, who was hit by a pitch. Gough was a monster for the Panthers in the series, hitting .364 with two home runs, three runs scored, and five RBIs over three games.
Several Middlebury miscues provided the Pirates new life in the fourth. Landon Durdin opened the inning with a walk but Ted Lobkowicz hit a grounder up the middle into what should have been a 6-4-3 double play, only to have Panthers' second baseman Hennings overthrow first base, allowing Lobkowicz to reach and advance to second with one out.
Chase Thinger capitalized, hitting an RBI-single through the right side, scoring the unearned run. Middlebury starting pitcher Sam Grace started to unravel from there, throwing a wild pitch to advance Thinger, walking Hayden Craig, then throwing another wild pitch to advance the runners to second and third.
Grace followed with a third wild pitch, scoring Thinger as the ball hit the backstop and then allowing Craig to score when Grace missed the throw at the plate on that same play to allow Pirates to tie the game; ending Grace's day with Alex Rosario relieving him.
Middlebury retook the lead in the top of the fifth when Hayden Smith reached on an error and, after a walk and a hit batter, the Pirates surrendered a sacrifice fly to Ritch, scoring Smith for the unearned run.
Sparks responded for the Pirates with an RBI-single through the left side, scoring Kruse, who reached on a double through the left side, tying the game for Southwestern at 5-5.
The Pirates took the lead in the bottom of the seventh when a failed pickoff attempt at first allowed Kruse to advance to third on the error and Sparks hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Kruse.
Trey Schwarz relieved Dees in the top of the eighth with one on and one out and struck out the first two hitters he faced to get out of the inning.
Middlebury blew up the save opportunity in the top of the ninth after Schwarz and the Pirate defense opened the inning with two quick outs. Hennings followed with a double to right center and after Smith fell behind 0-2 in the count, Schwarz appeared to paint the outside corner perfectly only to have the pitch called a ball. Smith followed with an RBI-double through the left side to tie the game and eventually send it into extra innings.
Southwestern opened the bottom of the 10th with a single through the right side from Durdin, who was then caught stealing on a failed bunt-and-run play. Southwestern then put two on with two outs but ended the inning on a groundout to third.
Gough opened the top of the 11th with a leadoff double to left and Han reached after getting hit by a pitch. Strmecki reached first on an error to load the bases, then another error scored Gough and Han. After Smith struck out, Jack Stolper hit a sacrifice fly to score Strmecki, giving the Panthers three runs in the inning on one hit with two errors.
Evan Stewart took the mound for Middlebury in the bottom of the inning, giving up a single through the right side and two walks to load the bases with no outs. Sparks reached on a fielder's choice for the out at second, scoring Witt. Durdin followed with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Dowdell.
Lobkowicz then singled to right, putting runners on the corners with two outs but Bryce Debbs, pinch hitting for Thinger in the ninth spot, struck out looking.
With the loss, the Pirates fall to 5-6 on the season. Schwarz picked up the decision on the mound for Southwestern, falling to 1-1 on the season with 3.2 innings pitched, giving up three hits and four runs with only one earned while striking out five with two walks.
The Pirates will have a quick turnaround, hosting DeSales tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. and then New Jersey City on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. before hitting the road next weekend for the conference opener against Austin College on Friday, March 13.
For more SU Pirate photos, please see Carlos Barron Photography