MEDFORD - Tufts University junior third baseman Tommy O'Hara and freshman pitcher Elias Varinos were honored as New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, after the Jumbos won the 2017 conference championship over the weekend.
O'Hara, recognized as the league's Player of the Week for the second time this season, had nine rbis in five games at the conference championship. In his first collegaite start, Varinos was superb while winning game six of the tournament for the Jumbos.
Head coach John Casey's Jumbos became just the second team in the 17-year history of the NESCAC Championship to sweep a pair of games on Sunday to win the title. Tufts started the weekend by scoring twice after two were out in the bottom of the ninth to stun Amherst College 5-4 on Friday night. After losing to Middlebury College 5-1 in the winner's bracket on Saturday, the Jumbos stayed alive with a 2-1 victory against Amherst later on Saturday. Needing to beat Middlebury twice on Sunday to win the championship, the Jumbos prevailed 11-2 and 10-6. With five conference titles, Tufts now has more than any other team in the league.
In Friday night's ninth-inning heroics against Amherst, O'Hara doubled home the game-tying run and then beat the throw on a close play at the plate to score the game-winning run on a base hit by junior Nick Falkson. O'Hara's two-run double in the third inning provided all of the offense in Tufts' 2-1 win over Amherst in an elimination game on Saturday. Then in Sunday's two wins verus Middlebury, he went 4 for 9 (.444) with two doubles, six rbis and three runs scored.
In game six of the tournament against Middlebury, Varinos allowed six hits and two runs (one earned) with seven K's in 8.1 innings. He lost a shutout bid in the bottom of the ninth. The Panthers managed just two hits off the freshman righty in the first six innings while the Jumbos built a 4-0 lead. The win kept Tufts alive in the tournament and paved the way for the second victory against the Panthers which earned the championship. This is the first weekly conference honor for Varinos.
O'Hara is first or second in six offensive categories in NESCAC. He leads the league with 44 runs batted in, 42 runs scored, 33 walks and a .497 on-base percentage. His 12 doubles and four home runs are both second in the league. Varinos had previously made five relief appearances for Tufts and is now 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings this spring.
This is the last week of NESCAC awards. The Jumbos won five this season. In addition to this week, Falkson was Player of the Week on May 1, O'Hara won on April 24 and senior Tim Superko was awarded Pitcher of the Week back on March 20. Tufts and Williams College tied for the most honors with five. The Jumbos' three Players of the Week were the most in NESCAC.
Tufts (30-8-1) received the NESCAC's automatic berth into the NCAA's and play at a Regional in Syracuse, New York starting on Thursday.