Mills' Sac Fly Walk-Off in Opener Helps Baseball Split Double-header with Middlebury

MEDFORD – Tufts junior CF Justin Mills hit a game-winning sac fly in the bottom of the eighth of game one and Middlebury sophomore CF Henry Strmecki homered and scored four times in game two as the Jumbos and Panthers split a baseball double-header on Saturday at Huskins Field. Tufts won the first game 4-3 and Middlebury took the nightcap 9-6.

Will Burgess scored the game-winning run in the opener.

Senior catcher Harrison Frickman had three hits and scored three runs in the two games for Tufts, who moved to 14-4 overall. Junior Justin Han stole three bases on the day for Middlebury, who is now 12-6. The double-header was a non-divisional match-up between the NESCAC teams.

Game one was scheduled for seven innings. Both teams threatened in the seventh, but the game went to extras tied 3-3. After Jumbo freshman reliever Aidan Tucker put Middlebury down 1-2-3, Tufts sophomore 2B Will Burgess walked with one out in the bottom of the eighth. He went to third on a double by senior SS Will Shackelford and then scored for the 4-3 win on a Mills fly ball to center.

Middlebury had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth. Junior SS Brooks Carroll walked with one out and sophomore DH Jake Dianno singled. Both stole bases to get into scoring position, then senior RF Sam Gram delivered a two-run single though the right side.

The Jumbos tied the game in the bottom of the sixth as junior RF JP Knight led off with a home run down the right field line.

Tufts had taken a 2-0 advantage in the second. Junior 3B Elias Varinos and senior catcher Harrison Frickman started the inning with singles and both scored, including an rbi single from Mills.

Middlebury cut the lead in half when junior catcher Gray Goolsby was hit by a pitch to lead off the third and scored on a double by junior 2B Andrew Hennings.

Tufts starter RJ Hall (6 IP, 7 H, 3 R) pitched into the seventh, but was relieved by Tucker after walking Hennings. Tucker put Hennings into scoring position with one out on a walk, but then struck out the next two batters to end the threat. In the Tufts seventh, junior DH Ryan Day singled and then went to third on a pair of Panther errors. Middlebury chose to load the bases by issuing two consecutive intentional walks. Freshman reliever Alex Price got out of it with a strikeout and a line-drive double play sending the game to the eighth.

Mills with two hits and two rbis was the only Jumbo batter with crooked numbers. Tucker, who only allowed one walk in his two innings and struck out three, improved to 3-0 with the win.

Hennings and Dianno had two hits apiece for Middlebury. Price, who entered in relief of starter Colby Morris (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R), took the loss giving up two hits and a run in 1.2 innings.

Middlebury went up 4-0 by scoring in each of the first three innings of game two. Junior 3B Hayden Smith singled home a run in the first, senior catcher Phill Bernstein had an rbi single in the second and Strmecki hit his home run in the third.

Tufts cut the margin in half on a two-run single by Varinos in the fourth, but Middlebury responded with four more in the fifth to lead 8-2. A three-run home run by sophomore 1B Ryan Hanrahan was the centerpiece of that inning.

A lead-off home run by junior LF Casey Santos-Ocampo was part of a two-run Jumbo fifth that got the hosts within 8-4.

Jumbo junior starter Brent Greeley toughed out seven innings, including the final two scoreless. The Jumbos were able to get a run across in both of those frames making it 8-6. Freshman DH Peter DeMaria hit an rbi double in the sixth and Frickman walked with one out and scored in the seventh.

The Panthers added an insurance run in the ninth with a walk to Strmecki, a double steal and a sac fly by Smith. Junior Andrew Martinson (1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R) and sophomore Bobby Sullivan (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R) closed out the victory in relief for the Panthers. Tufts did bring the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Sullivan got a strikeout to end it.

Smith finished 2 for 4 with three rbis and a run for Middlebury, while Stremecki was 2 for 3 with the four runs and an rbi. Junior DH Alan Guild also had two hits. Martinson got the win and Sullivan the save.

Tufts out-hit Middlebury finishing with 12, but left 16 men on base. Santos-Ocampo (two runs), sophomore DH Kyle Cortese, Frickman (two runs) and Varinos (two rbis) all had two hits. Greeley (7 IP, 9 H, 6 ER) absorbed the loss.

The Jumbos play again tomorrow hosting Keene State for a single game at 1 pm. Middlebury plays its home opener tomorrow against Plymouth State.