Baseball makes a case for their first ever NCAA bid

“If you can’t travel to Middlebury and sweep in a must-win situation, then it doesn’t say much about your chances of winning the NCAA’s.” That was the the Williams baseball team’s philosophy according to Junior David Carrillo, The Ephs’ determined play won them both ballgames by finals of 2-0 and 4-1, though the windy conditions made batting for power very difficult. The pair of victories and the club’s 26-9 record should be enough to land the team a spot in the NCAA Championship tournament to be announced Sunday May 16.

Ace pitcher Keith Surkont ’99 delivered again like he has all season in the first contest versus the Panthers. The senior star hurled a complete game as he dominated yet another NESCAC lineup. He scattered four hits over his seven innings of work, striking out four Middlebury batters.

The blustery conditions made it difficult for either team to generate hits at the plate. Carrillo observed that “The wind was blowing straight in towards home plate and hard hit balls were turning into routine outs. The wind was pushing balls up and killing any momentum they had on them.” Williams’ success, Carrillo added, was in the way that the team adjusted to the wind. “All of our runs had to be a little more creative because we knew there was little chance of extra base hits.” Carrillo himself put the Ephs’ first run on the board in the top of the first. He knocked a single and proceeded to steal both second and third base. He came around from third when a wild throw got away from the Middlebury third baseman.

Williams’ only other run came in the fifth, when Mark Scialabba ’02 took first on a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and headed to third on a steal. Another wild throw to third on the steal allowed Scialabba to score.

Senior Jim Frew thought, “One of the major keys to the success was our aggressive play on the basepaths. We were struggling to hit the ball, as the wind was ferocious, but a few steals really put the pressure on them defensively and we were able to capitalize.”

The second game featured a few more hits for both teams, but it again saw Williams take advantage of opportunities much better than Middlebury. As in the opener, the Panthers were plagued by sloppy play. Though the hosts tallied the first run of the game in the second on the combination of a fielding error and a wild pitch, the Ephs quickly struck back. In the fourth two unearned runs came across. The club followed with two more scores in the fourth via three walks from the Panther staff. Jeff Russell ’99 and Mike Paolercio ’00 contributed doubles for the Ephmen. Seniors Russell and Frew combined for the win on the mound. Russell started the game, and Frew entered in the third to complete the one-run effort.

Earlier in the week, Williams pulled out a 9-7 victory over Springfield College in nine innings. Tied at four in the eighth, Erik Fagan ’02 jacked a three-run homer to lead the Ephs’ four run charge in the stanza. Frew was able to hold on in the bottom of the ninth, pitching out of a bases loaded jam to earn the win. Russell collected three hits and two runs on the afternoon.