Nine-Run 4th Leads Baseball to NESCAC Finals in 13-7 Win Over Wesleyan

HARTFORD – The Tufts University baseball team scored nine runs after two were out in the fourth inning paving the way for a 14-7 victory over Wesleyan University in game five of the NESCAC Championship Saturday night at Trinity College.

With the win, Tufts (20-16) advances to the championship round of the conference tournament on Sunday. The Jumbos will face Amherst College and must defeat the Mammoths twice in order to capture their third consecutive NESCAC title. The first game is scheduled for 10 a.m. with an if necessary game to follow. Wesleyan's season ends with a 22-16 record.

With the game tied at 3-3 heading into the fourth, junior catcher Harrison Frickman led off with a single. After a pair of ground outs, the Jumbos' barrage began. Seniors Nick Falkson and Malcolm Nachmanoff delivered rbi singles. After a walk that loaded the bases and a pitching change, freshman DH Ryan Daues hit a two-run single making it 7-3.

A Wesleyan error preceded a two-run single to center by Frickman (9-3) as the Jumbos batted around. Another error, pitching change and walk led to Tommy O'Hara's rbi single (11-3). The Cardinals brought in their fourth pitcher of the inning and Falkson drew a bases-loaded walk making it 12-3. The Jumbos sent 15 men to the plate overall.

Wesleyan had opened the scoring with a run off Tufts starter Ian Kinney in the bottom of the first as Andrew Kauf singled and scored on an error. The Jumbos turned that around with three in the top of the second including an rbi single from O'Hara. The Cardinals tied it at 3-3 in the bottom of the second with a Kevin Walek single and a double from Alex Cappitelli scoring runs.

After Tufts' explosive fourth, hits by Walek and Cappitelli again in the bottom of the inning led to another Wesleyan run on a sacrifice fly by Danny Rose narrowing the gap to 12-4.

The teams continued to put runners on base, but both went through the fifth and sixth innings without scoring. The short-lived dry spell ended in the seventh when Frickman set the table again with a single and he scored on a double by senior Christian Zazzali making it 13-4 Tufts. Wesleyan put three across in the bottom of seventh for a 13-7 score with four straight walks and a two-run Tufts error. Zazzali threw Kauf out at second to end the inning while he tried to advance following the error.

Zazzali then made a spectacular running catch in the left-center gap to rob Rose leading off the Weslean eighth. Casey Santos-Ocampo walked and scored on a double by Elias Varinos in the top of the ninth for the final run of the game.

The victory was the second in as many days for Tufts over Wesleyan as they had defeated the Cardinals 16-3 in the tournament-opener on Friday. The Jumbos outscored Wesleyan 30-10 in the two wins. Tonight's victory marked the 16th time Tufts has scored 10 or more runs this season. Frickman and Varinos both had three hits, Frickman scored three runs and Falkson had three rbis. Freshman Jamie Weiss picked up the victory in relief. Freshman Manny Ray closed out the win with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.

Capitelli (3 for 3, 2 rbis) and Walek (2 for 4, 3 runs, rbi) led Wesleyan offensively. The Cardinals used six pitchers, with starter Mike McCaffrey taking the loss.

Tufts won last year's NESCAC title by defeating Middlebury twice on Sunday.