Baseball sweeps NESCAC series against Bates

Tufts infielder Patrick Solomon, a sophomore, is pictured at bat during a game against Colby on April 2. Courtesy Jen Bowman

The Tufts men’s baseball team continued its run of good form, sweeping its weekend doubleheader against Bates College. Ranked 15th in the nation among Division III teams, the Jumbos have cruised past their competition thus far. With Saturday’s game being postponed due to weather, only two out of three scheduled games were played, but Tufts prevailed both times.

Entering the series, Tufts’ overall record stood at 14–3 on the year, while its conference record was 2–1 following the previous weekend’s games against Colby College. The Jumbos’ opponents, the Bates Bobcats, had a record of 5–14 overall and a NESCAC record of 1–2. Bates lost its previous conference series to Trinity College.

In the seventh game of Sunday’s doubleheader, the Jumbos took the lead but then found themselves behind early. Their first run came off of two walks and an RBI single by second baseman Kyle Cortese to put the Jumbos up 1–0. Bates responded quickly, however, and in the bottom of the inning scored three runs. They scored on a two-run single followed by another RBI single. 

The Bobcats added to their tally in the bottom of the second inning on an RBI single by center fielder Tyler Attal and a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Henry Jamieson to make the score 5–1 Bates.

Both teams’ offenses stalled until the fifth inning when the Tufts bats came alive. With a man on third and two outs, junior left fielder Jackson Duffy hit an RBI double to decrease Bates’ lead to three runs. Senior designated hitter Ryan Noone smashed a single to put two runners on base for junior catcher Connor Bowman. Bowman walloped the ball over the left field fence to tie the game at five.

In the sixth inning, Tufts’ offense exploded, scoring 11 runs. With the bases loaded, senior first baseman Peter DeMaria was hit by a pitch to score a run. On the next batter, Cortese walked to score another run. Duffy then hit a two-run single, and Noone followed that hit with a towering three-run home run to the left. Sophomore shortstop Ozzie Fleischer hit an RBI infield single aided by an error to score another run. To cap off the inning, junior Connor Flavin, who had replaced DeMaria at first base, hit a three-run homer to center field to make the score 16–5.

“We went down a few runs, but you really can’t count us out at any point in the game,” Bowman said. “I mean you’ve seen that against Colby, especially like that first game that we’re never gonna roll over … we’’re never gonna give up.”

Junior Cameron Mayer made his fourth start of the year on the mound, but only lasted two innings for the Jumbos, surrendering five runs on seven hits. First-year Connor Podeszwa pitched excellently in relief, throwing five innings of shutout ball with six punchouts. His ERA is a NESCAC second-best 1.07 on the season. He also picked up his fourth win of the year as a result of his performance.

The Jumbos’ hot offense continued into the second game on Sunday, scoring in the early innings. In the top of the first, DeMaria grounded into a double play with the bases loaded, but one run was able to score. Cortese followed that up with an RBI triple to center field to double Tufts’ lead. Cortese then scored on a passed ball, and Duffy doubled to center to score another run, capping off the scoring in the inning at 4–0.

Tufts held Bates scoreless into the third inning when the team had another big offensive burst. Noone hit into a fielder’s choice that scored a run, Duffy hit a sacrifice fly to left field, and Fleischer hit a two-run single to make the score 8–0. Junior right fielder Jimmy Evans then crushed a three-run homer to extend the lead to 11 runs.

In the bottom of the fifth, Bates showed some life, mounting a small rally to score two runs. Tufts starter and junior pitcher Michael Volgende surrendered a solo home run, an RBI single and was then pulled and replaced by junior pitcher Jack Schwartz. Schwartz shut down Bates’ rally, keeping the score 11–2. He earned the win by pitching three scoreless frames, only giving up one hit and striking out three batters.

“One of our team mantras is ‘same all the time,’ and so I would say it wasn’t any different than when I’ve thrown in any other game,” Schwartz said.

Tufts capped off the scoring in the top of the seventh inning with an RBI double by senior outfielder captain Miles Reid. Reid is hitting 0.466 on the season, good for second place in the NESCAC. Sophomore relief pitchers Justin Wells and Silas Reed each tossed scoreless innings to seal the win for the Jumbos.

With the two conference wins, Tufts improved its record to 16–3 overall and 4–1 in the conference, placing the team first in the Eastern Division. The Jumbos will look to continue their success in Maine with three games against the Bowdoin Polar Bears this weekend.

“We take a lot of pride wearing this Tufts uniform and playing for each other and trusting each other,” Evans said. “We’re capable of doing a lot of great things.”