Tufts Baseball continues home stretch success

Infielder sophomore Ryan Daues is pictured at bat during Tufts' 24-6 win over Mass. Maritime on March 27. (Evan Slack / The Tufts Daily)

Tufts continued its 15-game homestand strong this week by beating MIT 10–2 on Thursday, April 4. Tufts then split a doubleheader against Middlebury and ended the week with an impressive come-from-behind win against Keene State, improving its overall record to 15–4.

On Sunday against Keene State, the Owls went up early, scoring three runs in the top of the second inning. The Jumbos started their comeback in the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly by junior infielder Elias Varinos, scoring first-year infielder Peter DeMaria to cut the lead to 3–1. Neither team scored again until the bottom of the seventh inning when junior outfielder Ryan Day scored junior outfielder Justin Mills on an RBI single up the middle to shorten the lead to one.

The Jumbos completed the comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring thrice and taking a 5–3 lead. Junior outfielder JP Knight tied the game up on an RBI single to score DeMaria. Senior co-captain and catcher Harrison Frickman broke the tie with an RBI single to score Varinos. Senior co-captain and infielder Will Shackelford added a much-needed insurance run on an RBI single to score Frickman and increase the lead to 5–3. Keene State added a run in the top of the ninth inning, but first-year pitcher Michael Volgende was able to secure the 5–4 victory for Tufts.

Volgende got his second win of the season, throwing 2⅓ innings in relief. First-year pitcher Sriharsha Bollu started the game for the Jumbos, throwing six innings and giving up only one earned run on four hits. First-year pitcher Steven Landry threw two-thirds of an inning in relief after Bollu, giving up zero runs on only one hit.

“We are not a team that gets down on ourselves,” sophomore infielder Kyle Cortese said. “We have a lot of leaders on the team. The upperclassmen are a great group of guys, great role models to look up to. It’s just that never-say-die attitude.”   

The Jumbos split a doubleheader against the Middlebury Panthers on April 6. In the second game, the Jumbos suffered a narrow 9–6 defeat. Middlebury’s hitting overwhelmed Tufts in the opening innings, and the Panthers finished the third inning with a 4–0 lead. While the Jumbos were able to cut the lead to two in the fourth inning, the real damage came on one swing of the bat by Panther sophomore first-baseman Ryan Hanrahan who sent a dinger over the left-field fence to score Alan Guild and Hayden Smith, extending their lead to 8–2. The Jumbos added four more runs to the scoreboard, but it was too little too late. The Panthers added another run in the ninth inning.

In their first meeting of the day, the Jumbos won a hard-fought game 4–3. Tufts got on the board first with two runs in the second inning. Middlebury came back and took a 3–2 lead after 6½ innings by scoring one run in the third and two runs in the sixth inning. The Jumbos tied the game in the bottom half of the sixth inning on a home run by Knight; they secured the win when Mills hit a sacrifice fly to score sophomore infielder Will Burgess in the bottom of the eighth inning

“I was trying to just hit something hard and in the air if I could and if the pitch was there,” Mills said, commenting on his eighth-inning heroics. “It was a lefty-lefty matchup. He threw a curveball for a strike and then the pitch that I ended up hitting was another curveball. I tried to gain whatever information I could from seeing the first one, because I had heard from other guys that he was going to that curve a lot. I just wanted to put a good swing on the ball, not trying to do too much, put it in the air, hit something hard and get our guys a win.”

Senior co-captain RJ Hall started the game and threw well, going six innings while giving up three earned runs with four strikeouts. First-year pitcher Aidan Tucker picked up his third win of the season, pitching two scoreless innings in relief for the Jumbos. 

Two days prior to their doubleheader with the Panthers, the Jumbos continued their long stay at home with an impressive 10–2 win against the MIT Engineers. Although Tufts did not find the same offensive success as it did against Salem State, where it scored 30 runs, its approach at the plate still proved to be impressive. On only nine hits, the Jumbos crossed the plate 10 times over the course of the nine innings, while holding the Engineers to only two runs on 12 hits. 

“The approach stays the same,” Cortese said. “Everyone on our team is trying to do everything in our power to get on base. The main goal is always to get on base.” 

First-year pitcher Lucas Gustavson recorded his first win of the season, throwing five innings with one earned run with four strikeouts. Sophomore pitcher Manny Ray recorded his first save of the season, throwing four innings and giving up one earned run and striking out three

The Jumbos continue their home stretch against the Bowdoin Bears on April 12.