Baseball opens season with series win over Colby

The Tufts Baseball team plays Colby College on April 10. Sophie Dolan / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts baseball team won three out of four games this weekend against Colby, winning two at home on Saturday and one on the road on Sunday.

The Jumbos took the first game with a strong start from junior right-hander Michael Volgende. The Connecticut native surrendered only two hits in six innings of work, striking out eight and walking only one. 

On Monday, Volgende was awarded NESCAC Pitcher of the Week for his dominant performance. 

It feels great [to be pitcher of the week] for sure, considering all of the hard work put in since our 2020 season was taken from us, but at the end of the day it’s about winning baseball games, especially in the shortened season,” Volgende said about the honor. 

At the plate, Tufts got off to a slow start before junior outfielder Miles Reid hit a solo home run, the first of his collegiate career. An RBI triple by sophomore outfielder Jackson Duffy and a two-run homer from senior outfielder Brandon Bay drove in the remaining three runs in the sixth. Junior Brendan McFall came out of the pen to close out the 4-0 victory for the Jumbos with a hitless seventh inning. 

In the second game at Huskins Field, the Jumbo offense got off to a scorching start, scoring nine runs in the bottom of the first inning. Sophomore outfielder Jimmy Evans tallied his first career collegiate hit on a three-run triple to center field, which was followed by a two-run blast from senior infielder Kyle Cortese, the next batter. Junior catcher Ryan Noone sent a ball over the right-field wall for a homer in the fourth, scoring the Jumbos’ 10th run. Seven Jumbos tallied hits in the first inning offensive outburst. 

“After last season getting canceled and being part of that locker room when coach broke the news to us, it taught us as a team to truly never take anything for granted,” Evans said about finally making his collegiate debut. “We’ve waited a long time for this, and thinking about the 2020 seniors gave us an extra boost of energy when we took the field at Huskins on Saturday.”

Sophomore right-hander Cameron Mayer was impressive in his collegiate debut, throwing five strong innings while giving up only two hits and striking out eight. Also making his collegiate debut, first-year right-hander Silas Reed allowed four hits across two innings of work while striking out six, sealing the deal for the Jumbos in a 10–0 victory. 

On Sunday, the Jumbos won the third of the four games with an 8–4 victory over the Mules on the road. Junior starting pitcher Luke Gustavson gave Tufts four-and-a-third innings on the mound, surrendering three earned runs and striking out five. Senior Spencer Langdon would throw the remaining two-and-two-thirds innings to close out the victory for Tufts, giving up only one hit and striking out three. 

The bats stayed hot for the Jumbos in, with six different players tallying RBIs. Reid registered three hits, while Cortese added another home run. The Tufts offense was active on the base paths as well, with four players recording steals. 

The Mules scored runs on hits by center fielder Patrick McConnell and designated hitter Cabot Maher. McConnell led the way for the Mules offense with three hits in the loss. 

Colby showed resilience throughout the fourth game, coming back from a deficit twice to take a 12–9 victory over the Jumbos on Sunday. Tufts jumped ahead in the first with three runs, but Colby responded with a three-run frame of their own in the bottom half. Sophomore Connor Kinney started on the mound for the Jumbos, going one inning and giving up three runs. 

After Tufts grabbed a 7–3 lead in the top of the third, Colby chipped away, keeping the game within reach. Finally, Colby cracked through to take the lead in a four-run fifth inning. The Jumbos’ pitching staff struggled with command in Game 4, walking seven batters and giving up three hit-by-pitches. 

Volgende commented on how the pitching staff can improve from a solid start to the season. 

“For the staff, it’s all about having enough focus and commitment to bear down and make quality pitches, rather than trying to gas everybody up,” said Volgende. “There are always ways to improve, whether it be tweaking your routine, mechanics or even work ethic.”

Evans and fellow sophomore Clay Sowell were bright spots offensively in the loss for the Jumbos. Both tacked on three hits and four RBIs, along with the first homers of their collegiate careers . Sowell finished a single shy of the cycle in just his second career start. 

“Our offense as a whole swung the bat great this past weekend,” said Evans. “This week in practice we need to continue to focus on simplifying things and passing the bat to the next guy.”

The Jumbos and Mules will meet again on Saturday, April 17 in Waterville to begin another four-game NESCAC set.