HARWICH - Junior pitcher Kyle Slinger threw a three-hitter to lead the Tufts baseball team to a 3-1 victory over St. Joseph's College (ME) in the Jumbos' NCAA Regional opener today at Whitehouse Field.
The Jumbos (34-7), who scored single runs in the second, fourth and fifth innings offensively, will play in the winner's bracket on Thursday night at 8 pm. They will face either Southern Maine or Worcester State, who were playing in Wednesday's late game.
St. Joseph's, which received a good start from senior Nick Whittaker, dropped to 28-14 with the loss. The Monks will play the Southern Maine-Worcester State loser on Friday at 1 pm in an elimination game.
Slinger, announced as NESCAC's Pitcher of the Year earlier on Wednesday, struck out nine and did not walk a batter. He improved to 9-0 on the season, stranding three Monks in scoring position over the course of the game as three Jumbo errors worked against him.
Tufts scored first after sophomore SS Matt Moser led off the second with a single up the middle. He took second on a passed ball and scored on a two-out double off the wall in left by senior catcher Nick Cutsumpas.
St. Joseph's tied the score in the fourth inning with two of their three hits off Slinger. Senior RF Alex Lorenc singled to lead off and was bunted to second. He scored on a single to left by sophomore LF Taylor Reuillard. After a wild pitch put Reuillard at third, Slinger was able to get a ground out to keep it a 1-1 game.
Slinger cruised through the middle to late innings, retiring 13 in a row from the fourth through the eighth. The Jumbos added an insurance run in the fifth when freshman 2B Tom Petry led off with a walk. He took third on a single by junior CF Connor McDavitt and scored on a sac fly by senior 3B Wade Hauser.
Tufts would have numerous chances to add to their lead in the late innings, but stranded seven of their total 10 runners left on base in the sixth through eighth frames.
St. Joseph's would put the tying runs on base due to a pair of Tufts errors in the ninth, but Slinger induced a ground ball to third to end the game.
Whittaker allowed seven hits and three runs (two earned) with eight strikeouts and five walks for St. Joe's, falling to 6-3 with the loss. Lorenc was the only player in the game to finish with two hits.
With the victory, Tufts tied the program record with 34 matching the 2010 season.