Tufts' baseball team hosted Brandeis for a double-header on April 9, 2016. Ziqing Xiong / The Tufts Daily

Tufts gears up for season after setting win record last year

Tufts baseball set the bar high last season by winning its fourth NESCAC Championship, setting a program record of 35 total victories on the season with an overall record of 35-8 and advancing to the regional finals of the NCAA tournament. The team ultimately fell to Keystone 7-5.

“I think every year as a team our goal should be to win our last game, which we didn’t do last year,” senior tri-captain Harry Brown said. “We don’t focus on statistic goals because our main focus is to try to be the same every single day. If we can actually accomplish our simple goal of being the same every day, we will hit a lot of our goals.”

Coach John Casey was voted NESCAC Coach of the Year after the NESCAC Championship win, which was the team’s third consecutive and eighth overall win. Senior tri-captain Speros Varinos was awarded NESCAC Pitcher of the Year, with a 2.15 earned run average and 79 total strikeouts in 67 innings. Varinos is also preseason All-American going into this season and is ranked within the top 20 pitchers in Div. III for total hits allowed with 45.

“Right now we are tapering because we were practicing for a while and the guys are stir-crazy. Our pitchers are tapering down. They built up and are now tapering down so they will be strong,” Casey said. “I am excited to see Speros [Varinos] throw on Friday, because he’s worked hard and had a really good preseason.”

The team graduated four seniors — Matt Moser, Cody McCallum, Andrew David and Kevin Godin — at the end of last year. Moser, McCallum and David were second team All-NESCAC. Moser started at short-stop, McCallum played in the outfield and David pitched with a 2.97 earned run average. David also led the team in innings pitched. Despite losing a few skilled seniors, the team is confident that it will be able to replace these losses.

“Those guys last year did a great job and they were great leaders,” Casey said. “They performed in big games and all of them had huge roles for us, so it falls on this year’s seniors to step up if we are going to be any good. We are going to give guys a chance to play so whatever that lineup is at the end of next week will be about what we are going to go with into the first NESCAC weekend.”

With many returners, the team has retained experienced players such as Brown, junior Tommy O’Hara and senior tri-captain Tim Superko. Last season, O’Hara boasted a .325 batting average and led the team with 163 at bats and 48 RBIs. Brown led the team with a .397 batting average and a .522 on-base percentage. Pitching will likely remain a strength for the Jumbos, as Superko has a 3.10 earned run average. Additionally, junior pitcher Kevin Galasso has returned after battling lymphoma.

New additions to the team include first-years Ryan Day, JP Knight, Brad Marchetti, Brent Greeley and Elias Varinos.

On Friday, the team’s season will open up against Castleton. Castleton also had a record-breaking season last year with its third consecutive North Atlantic Conference title after defeating Husson 6-5 in the championship game. The team’s main concern entering the season is a few minor injuries in the bullpen, and the pitching lineup following Varinos remains uncertain. Casey hopes that these injuries will be resolved by the end of the spring trip but expects that pitching will not reach full capacity due to those injuries.

“The whole idea is to win every game [on the Virginia trip], which has never happened since I’ve been here, and it’s not easy to do. We want to find out what kind of team we have and play our best baseball. The goal is to make sure that we are hitting our stride at the end of the trip to set us up well for when we start playing games up here,” Brown said.

The team will open up its regular season in Newport News, Va. against Castleton on March 17 at 1 p.m.

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