Over the weekend, the Tufts baseball team (12–10, 3–3 NESCAC) faced Bowdoin in its second conference series of the season, winning the set 2–1. The Jumbos’ victories sandwiched a tight 4–3 loss to the host Polar Bears (11–12, 4–5 NESCAC).
Entering the final game of the series — the second of Saturday’s doubleheader — the teams were tied with one victory apiece. Tufts got an early lead in the top of the first when senior third baseman and co-captain Tommy O’Hara crushed a triple down the right field line, scoring sophomore second baseman Elias Varinos. Shortly thereafter, junior designated hitter John Moschella singled to right, which sent O’Hara home for a 2–0 lead.
Sophomore pitcher Spencer Langdon did not concede any runs for seven straight innings, limiting Bowdoin to just four hits in his 7.2 innings of work. The Polar Bears finally got on the board in the bottom of the eighth, as Tufts junior shortstop Will Shackelford mishandled a ground ball to allow first-year pinch runner Owen Gideon-Murphy to score. The Polar Bears tied the game in the following at-bat with junior catcher Colby Joncas’ two-out single through the right side.
The Jumbos responded in the top of the ninth, as senior center fielder Christian Zazzali singled to center field, scoring Shackelford. After Varinos was hit by a pitch and O’Hara walked, Moschella added an insurance run for the visitors with a sacrifice fly to left field. Senior Ian Kinney closed the door on the Polar Bears in the bottom of the ninth to secure a 4–2 win.
Earlier that day, the teams battled in another close contest, which the Jumbos lost by a single run, 4–3. Tufts fell behind early, conceding three runs in the bottom of the first in the form of an unearned run on a single to the left, followed by another single down the left field line, which tacked on two more runs.
Bowdoin increased its lead in the bottom of the fourth with sophomore second baseman Eric Mah’s RBI single to center field. It wasn’t until the top of the sixth that the Jumbos began to climb their way out of a four-run deficit. Junior left fielder Casey Santos-Ocampo singled to left, scoring senior right fielder Malcolm Nachmanoff to make the score 4–1. In the top of the seventh, Moschella singled to score Shackelford to close the gap to two. Senior first baseman and co-captain Nick Falkson followed with an RBI single, but Tufts ultimately fell one run short after Nachmanoff popped out.
Sophomore pitcher Brent Greeley took the loss, allowing three earned runs on seven hits in his six innings.
The first game of the series on Friday was a commanding victory for Tufts, as the team earned a 10–0 shutout. Junior R.J. Hall and senior Kevin Galasso combined to limit Bowdoin to just two hits, striking out 10 between them. Sophomore outfielder Justin Mills credited the shift that the pitchers implemented as a decisive factor in Tufts’ strong performance.
“We had great pitching all three games,” Mills said. “That was huge throughout the series. Our pitching really carried us, and that was what kept us in the games and able to win the series.”
The Jumbos opened the floodgates in the third inning as O’Hara launched a grand slam to score Varinos, Zazzali and junior catcher Harrison Frickman. Zazzali drove in a run with a single in the fourth inning, which opened a strong five-run advantage.
“We’ve being working a lot on our approach to hitting, so I think that will show in us staying back and driving the ball up the middle,” Mills said.
The Jumbos added insult to injury in the top of the ninth, doubling their lead. First-year pinch hitter Will Burgess roped a single to left that drove in a run. Santos-Ocampo then flied out to center field, scoring Moschella for a 7–0 advantage. Finally, Frickman and Shackelford both hit singles for three total RBIs, cementing Tufts’ 10–0 victory.
With the 2–1 showing, the Jumbos now hold a 3–3 record in NESCAC play, while the Polar Bears dropped to 4–5. Tufts’ scheduled doubleheader against UMass Dartmouth on Monday was postponed due to weather, so the team will resume its season this afternoon with the first contest in a three-game series against Colby at home.
“I think everybody knows that the conference games are really important,” Mills said. “If we want a chance to go out of the NESCAC [to the postseason], we are going to have to win the conference. That being said, I think we bring the same intensity to every game. Even when it’s a practice, we are going to come out and give it our best.”
O’Hara echoed his teammate’s sentiments, noting that there remains room for improvement for the Jumbos.
“Defensively, I know personally I’m not where I want to be,” he said. “The season is not over yet, and there is still more work to be done. We are going to try to make it go for as long we can.”