With more than a month of baseball now in the books, the Jumbos are in the midst of another stellar season. Tufts won four of five over the past week, improving its overall record to 19-5 and taking sole possession of first place in the NESCAC East.
Tufts trounced Keene State 18-6 in its most recent game on Wednesday. The visiting Jumbos trailed 4-1 after the first inning, but after driving in one run in the second and one in the third, they exploded for 11 runs in the top of the fourth, a wild inning that featured six walks, six hits, four wild pitches, three pitching changes and one hit batsman. Tufts sent 16 men to the plate that inning, the first eight of whom reached safely.
Wednesday’s win was a balanced attack for the Jumbos, with 10 players recording hits for a team total of 17. It was another impressive performance from the Tufts offense, which has averaged better than 10 runs per game this year and leads the NESCAC in scoring by a healthy margin.
Tufts returned home to beat Salem State 5-1 on Monday behind Tom Ryan’s first career complete game. The senior tri-captain was successful in keeping his pitches down in the zone, inducing 16 ground ball outs and preventing any extra base hits. Neither team hit especially well, with each side managing just four singles, but the Jumbos played strong defense and benefited from five Vikings errors.
“I felt like I located my fastball well, which helped me stay ahead of hitters,” Ryan said. “My offspeed stuff was inconsistent, but I was able to keep the ball down and attack the strike zone with the fastball. There were a lot of ground balls and the defense did a great job making the plays behind me.”
The game was tied 1-1 through five before Tufts broke through with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, driving Salem State sophomore Tim Woods from the game. Woods loaded the bases with nobody out, then surrendered a wind-blown single to Howard that plated O’Hara.
With Woods faltering, senior Matt Turmenne got the call out of the bullpen. He was promptly victimized by his defense, which let in two runs on the next play — a botched double-play attempt. The Jumbos added an insurance run in the seventh when sophomore Harry Brown came around to score on a fielder’s choice after getting hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.
“Monday was a good win for us,” Ryan said.
Tufts played its second conference series of the season at Trinity over the weekend, splitting Saturday’s closely contested doubleheader before taking the rubber match in a rout. Coach John Casey was pleased with the hitting and pitching performances of several Jumbos.
“[Senior tri-captain] Connor McDavitt got on base all weekend long and had a big home run for us, and [senior] James Howard had good at-bats all weekend as well,” Casey said. “[Senior] Willie Archibald stepped up big time for us in game three with six big innings.”
The Jumbos jumped out to an early lead in the series opener, scoring five runs in the first two innings and going up 6-1 through five. The Bantams closed the gap to 6-4 in the bottom of the sixth on first-year Ryan Vultaggio’s three-run homer. The blast knocked sophomore starter Tim Superko out of the game, leaving first-year Zach Brown to get the final four outs and nail down his third save of the season. Superko still earned the win for his efforts, improving his record to 4-2.
Tufts took an early lead in the second game as well, but failed to hold it and ultimately lost 7-6. The Jumbos had leads of 3-0, 5-3 and 6-4, but the Bantams rallied each time. Trinity finally pulled ahead with a three-run eighth inning. Brown blew the save by allowing a bases-clearing double to junior Scott Cullinane, though two of the runs were charged to sophomore Speros Varinos. Cullinane’s clutch hit proved to be the difference when the Jumbos were unable to answer in the top of the ninth, losing when junior Cody McCallum flied into a double play that erased first-year pinch-runner Christian Zazzali.
Tufts rebounded from the tough loss to pound Trinity 16-5 in Sunday’s series finale, raising its NESCAC record to 4-2 in the process. The Jumbos scored in six of the nine innings and totaled 18 hits, seven of which went for extra bases. The blowout was a true team effort from Tufts, with 10 different Jumbos registering at least one run and one hit. McDavitt, junior Matt Moser and first-year Tommy O’Hara notched three hits apiece, with McDavitt launching a home run and pair of doubles to pace the team with four RBIs.
The rout was precipitated by a brawl that broke out in the bottom of the first after senior tri-captain Kyle Slinger tagged out Trinity first-year Brendan Pierce in a rundown play between third and home to end the inning. Senior Willie Archibald relieved Slinger in the second and pitched brilliantly, allowing just three runs over six innings to record his first win of the season.
“I was ready for whatever opportunity I got, and treated it like I would any other pitching situation,” Archibald said. “Obviously I was amped up after the first inning incident, but I calmed down and pitched aggressively, getting ahead in the count and letting the Trinity hitters get themselves out. The run support was awesome, but I thought less about the score and more about just doing my job.”
Tufts will seek to strengthen its hold on first place during this weekend’s three-game series at Colby, which starts today at 3 p.m. The Mules are third in the NESCAC East with a 3-3 conference record and are 13-6 overall.
“We look to play well and see how it shakes out,” coach Casey said. “All we can control is our attitude and effort everyday and we hope to continue with that.”