Following its three-game sweep of Colby on April 20–21, Tufts baseball suffered a setback, falling at home to UMass Dartmouth, Suffolk and Endicott.
After Endicott (20–11) opened a 3–0 lead in the first inning on Thursday, Tufts responded with three runs of its own in the bottom of the third. Senior third baseman and co-captain Tommy O’Hara provided the big blow, tripling in two runs. The Jumbos took the lead an inning later, with junior shortstop Will Shackelford hitting a sacrifice fly.
However, the Gulls tacked on single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings to clinch a comeback 6–4 win. A quintet of Endicott pitchers combined to shut out Tufts’ bats after the fourth, as junior Will Bryant recorded his 10th save of the year.
On Tuesday, Suffolk (18–16) got off to a hot start, scoring four runs in the top of the first. In the bottom of the inning, the Jumbos responded with a single to left field from senior first baseman and co-captain Nick Falkson, which scored Shackelford. Senior right fielder Malcolm Nachmanoff followed with a two-run double down the left-field line to pull within one run, 4–3. That was the closest the hosts got, however.
“Suffolk came out and put up a bunch of runs in the first inning and they kept pouring it on,” Nachmanoff said. “They didn’t let up and we weren’t able to get back into the game at all. Our offense struggled a little bit. After that early lead, we just never got back on it.”
The Suffolk offense proved dominant in the second and third innings, as the visitors totaled five runs. Nachmanoff crushed a home run — his sixth of the season — to left field in the bottom of the third for his third RBI of the game. Despite Nachmanoff’s blast, Suffolk held a comfortable 9–4 lead after three innings.
The Rams continued their offensive barrage in the sixth, tacking on four more runs with four singles and a pair of walks. Suffolk added three runs in the late innings, including a home run in the ninth. Nachmanoff, who was ultimately responsible for four of Tufts’ five RBIs, added another in the bottom of the ninth to finalize the 16–5 scoreline.
Four Jumbos took the mound against the Rams, but first-year pitcher Owen Copps took the loss.
Tufts hosted UMass Dartmouth (19–11) on Sunday, with the teams battling fiercely into extra innings. The Corsairs started the game with an RBI single to center field in the top of the first, but neither team scored again until the fifth inning. UMass Dartmouth extended its lead with a sacrifice groundout and a sacrifice fly, but a home run from Tufts first-year second baseman Ryan Daues in the bottom of the inning closed the deficit to one run.
The Corsairs responded in the sixth with two runs of their own, but the Jumbos responded with a run-scoring double to center from junior left fielder Casey Santos-Ocampo. Tufts trailed 5–3 entering the seventh, when UMass Dartmouth junior first baseman Jose Vasquez homered to left center. The hosts responded once again, with O’Hara singling in sophomore catcher Ryan Day.
The back-and-forth trend continued through the eighth, when the Corsairs scored two runs, followed by Day’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning. The Jumbos entered the ninth trailing 8–5.
With one out and two men on base, Nachmanoff stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and crushed a home run to center to tie the game 8–8.
“I’ve been feeling pretty good at the plate, and in that situation, just like any other, I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball and use the middle of the field,” Nachmanoff said. “[The pitcher] came with a first-pitch fastball, and after that, I was sitting on anything. He ended up coming with a changeup, and I was ready for it and just drove it to the middle of the field.”
With two outs in the top of the tenth, however, UMass Dartmouth junior left fielder Chris Wood singled to left field, scoring the winning run.
Nachmanoff was named NESCAC Player of the Week, as he leads the conference in batting average (.41), slugging percentage (.780) and on-base percentage (.518).
Tufts now has a 15–13 overall record and a 6–3 conference mark. The Jumbos are currently tied with the Bates Bobcats for first place in the NESCAC East division. The teams will face off in a three-game set this weekend, and the winner of the series will clinch the top spot and a berth in the conference tournament.
“We just want to get back to what we were doing well against Colby,” Nachmanoff said. “The games [in which] we’ve been able to produce offensively, we stuck to the same plan, and we want to get back to that against Bates. Hopefully we will get some good pitching performances and put up some runs and come away with the series and get into the playoffs.”
The series begins in Lewiston, Maine on Friday afternoon. The teams will then take to the field for a doubleheader on Saturday.
“In the upcoming series against Bates, I’m focusing just on simply on doing my job,” Shackelford said. “Bates is going to play how they are going to play, so I’m focusing on controlling my own game, having quality at-bats, competing each inning and each pitch and focusing on making the plays in the field. Doing what I can to help my teammates is my focus going into the series.”