MEDFORD - Freshman pinch hitter Ryan Day singled through the right side to score the go-ahead run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth as the Tufts University baseball team earned a berth into the NESCAC Championship with a 4-3 East Division win over Bates College on Friday afternoon at Huskins Field.
|Mike McLaughlin scored the game-winning run for Tufts|
Tufts (23-5-1, 7-3 NESCAC East) entered the three-game weekend series against Bates (13-9, 7-3) needing one win to clinch the remaining East Division spot in the upcoming NESCAC Tournament. The Bobcats had already secured the first of the two East berths last weekend.
Bobcat freshman catcher Jack Arend had homered to right field leading off the seventh inning to break a 2-2 tie and put the visitors up 3-2. The Jumbos squandered a lead-off single in the bottom of the seventh with a base-running blunder. Bates also had a lead-off single in the top of the eighth, but could not score.
With one out in the Tufts eighth, junior 1B Nick Falkson walked and then junior LF Mike McLaughlin was hit by a pitch. On a ground ball to short by sophomore DH Casey Santos-Ocampo, Bates could not convert the out at second base and the throwing error allowed Falkson to score the tying run (3-3). After a second out was made, Day's single scored McLaughlin giving the Jumbos a 4-3 lead. Jumbo junior reliever Ian Kinney put the Bobcats down 1-2-3 in the ninth for his fifth save.
Bates made five errors in the game and none of the Jumbos' four runs were earned.
Facing league-leading pitcher Speros Varinos, the Bobcats had taken a 1-0 lead in the first. Senior CF Ryan McCarthy lashed a one-out single to right-center and took second on a groundout. Senior 1B Brendon Canavan doubled down the right-field line to score McCarthy.
Tufts tied the game with a two-out rally in the bottom of the first. Junior 3B Tommy O'Hara started it with a walk and went to second on a single by Falkson. A Bates error scored the run. In the second, Tufts sophomore catcher Harrison Frickman reached by error and scored on another Bobcat miscue. Bates eluded further damage when O'Hara flied out and senior RF Oscar Kutch, who had singled, was caught stealing.
A Jumbo error in the fifth led to the game-tying run for Bates. Junior SS Asher McDonald led off with a single up the middle and was sacrificed to second. After Varinos struck out the next batter, McDonald scored when the Jumbos threw the ball away on a grounder.
Varinos recorded his eighth victory in as many starts for Tufts. He threw eight innings allowing six hits and three runs (two earned) with seven strikeouts and no walks.
Bates junior Connor Speed was a hard-luck loser on the hill. He went eight innings allowing six hits and four runs (none earned) with three strikeouts. He did walk three and hit three batters while falling to 1-4 on the season.
Falkson at 2 for 3 for Tufts and Bates' McDonald at 2 for 4 were the only batters with multiple hits in the game.
The teams will compete for the East pennant tomorrow in a double-header at Huskins starting at 12 noon. Tufts needs one win and Bates needs to sweep in order to take the #1 seed in the East.