WATERVILLE, Maine - In an elimination game at the 2017 NESCAC Baseball Championship, Tufts University received a stellar outing from sophomore pitcher R.J. Hall in a 2-1 victory over Amherst College at Colby College's Coombs Field on Saturday.
The Jumbos (28-8-1) advance to the championship round on Sunday where they will face Middlebury College. Tufts must defeat the Panthers twice in order to win the NESCAC title. With rain forecasted for Sunday, the first game is slated for 9 a.m. with an if-necessary game to follow.
Having lost to Middlebury, 5-1, in a winner's bracket game earlier on Saturday, the Jumbos needed to defeat the Mammoths to stay alive in the tournament. Hall pitched seven innings allowing six hits and no runs with three strikeouts and a walk. The Jumbos won the game despite getting just three hits.
Amherst, which had an outstanding start by junior Sam Schneider as well, fell to 20-16. Both of Tufts' runs, scored in the third inning, were unearned.
In the Jumbo third, senior 2B Tom Petry led off and reached on an error. After he was sacrificed to second by sophomore C Eric Schnepf, sophomore SS Will Shackelford walked. With two outs, both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch and senior RF Oscar Kutch walked to load them up. Junior 3B Tommy O'Hara then doubled to right field scoring Petry and Shackelford for a 2-0 Tufts lead.
Hall allowed Amherst singles in the second, third and fifth innings before running into some danger in the sixth and seventh. In the sixth, Amherst had runners on first and second with one out before Hall got a pair of outfield outs to end the threat. In the seventh, Chase Henley doubled with one out for Amherst. Pinch runner Will Murphy could not score on a base hit to center by Nick Nardone. Hall then picked Murphy off third base to end the inning.
Schneider allowed just two hits in his eight innings of work. Aside from O'Hara's two-run double, Tufts only had a fifth-inning single by Shackelford against him.
The Jumbos went to freshman reliever Brad Marchetti in the eighth. Max Steinhorn greeted him with an infield single, took second on a wild pitch and stole third. He scored to cut the margin in half on a fielder's choice by Yanni Thanopolous. Marchetti was able to limit the damage and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save.
O'Hara, who also singled in the ninth, finished 2 for 4 with the two rbis for Tufts. Hall earned his third victory of the season. Marchetti's two innings of relief included two hits and one run.
Steinhorn was 3 for 4 with a run atop Amherst's order. Nardone finished 2 for 4. Relievers Zach Horwitz and Wilson Taylor combined on a scoreless ninth for the Mammoths.
This was the second one-run game played between the teams this weekend. Tufts scored twice after two were out in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday night to beat Amherst 5-4.