WATERVILLE, Maine - Down to their final out, the Tufts University baseball team scored twice to stun Amherst College, 5-4, in the opening round of the 2017 NESCAC Championship on Friday night at Colby College's Coombs Field.
Tufts (27-7-1) advances in the winner's bracket and will play Middlebury College in game four of the tournament on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Panthers defeated Bates College, 3-2, in the opening game of the NESCAC Championship earlier on Friday. Amherst (19-15) will face Bates College in game three of the tournament on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Jumbos had Tom Petry on first with two outs. Junior 3B Tommy O'Hara hit a ball to right field on which Amherst RF Anthony Spina made a diving attempt but could not come up with it. Petry scored to tie the game at 4-4 on the double by O'Hara. Tufts junior 1B Nick Falkson followed with a single to right field and O'Hara beat the throw to the plate on a very close play for the game-winning run.
The wild finish capped a back-and-forth game. Amherst scored twice in the second before Tufts took a 3-2 lead with three in the fourth. Two sixth-inning runs by the Mammoths gave them a 4-3 advantage before the Jumbos' ninth-inning heroics.
Amherst took the lead off Tufts ace Speros Varinos in the top of the second. Ariel Kenney hit a one-out single and took second a failed pick-off attempt by the Jumbos. Severino Tocci followed with an rbi double scoring Kenney with the game's first run. Nick Nardone then hit a two-out single to left-center scoring Tocci and it was 2-0 Amherst.
Mammoths starter Jackson Volle blanked Tufts for the first three innings. The Jumbos staged an earlier two-out rally to score three times in the fourth. With Falkson and sophomore LF Casey Santos-Ocampo on base with walks, sophomore catcher Harrison Frickman doubled home both runners to tie the game. Tufts took the lead on an rbi single by sophomore SS Will Shackelford.
A double by Yanni Thanopoulos and a triple by Spina tied the game at 3-3 for Amherst in the sixth. With one out, Tocci singled to center for a go-ahead rbi making it 4-3 Mammoths.
Both teams went to their bullpens in the next half inning. Amherst's Wilson Taylor replaced Volle in the bottom of the sixth and would retire eight of the next 10 Jumbos that he faced to hold the 4-3 advantage through the eighth. Freshman Brad Marchetti came on for Tufts and would pitch three innings of one-hit, no-run relief.
Marchetti earned the win in relief. The Jumbos finished with seven hits including two apiece by senior CF Harry Brown and Shackelford.
Amherst's nine hits featured a pair by both Thanopoulos and Tocci. Taylor was the losing pitcher, dropping to 2-3.