Baseball Earns NESCAC Tournament Berth with Dramatic Sweep at Trinity

Recap courtesy of Trinity College

HARTFORD – With Tufts down to its last strike in the ninth inning of game two, junior 3B J.P. Knight hit a grand slam over the right field fence to give the Jumbos a 9-6 lead which stood as the final to help complete a double-header sweep over the Trinity College Bantams on Saturday afternoon at Murren Family Field at DiBenedetto Stadium.

Junior JP Knight finished the day 4 for 4 with two home runs, seven rbis and three runs.

The Jumbos, who won game one 8-2, improve to 23-6 overall and 8-1 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) East. The win earns Tufts one of the two East Division berths into the upcomig NESCAC Championship.

Trinity falls to 24-7 on the year and 7-4 in divisional play. The two sides complete the three-game series tomorrow morning at 11 am.

In the opener, Trinity jumped ahead with a run in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Senior tri-captain 1B Johnny Stamatis scored classmate SS Ben Reinisch on an rbi groundout with one out.

After a scoreless second, the Jumbos put up a crooked number with three runs in the top of the third to go ahead 3-1. Senior SS Will Shackelford scored on a ground-ball out off the bat of junior 2B Elias Varinos. Tufts plated two more on a single to center field by freshman 1B Peter DeMaria before Trinity junior starter Andrew DeRoche got the third out of the inning.

The Bantams got one back the following half-inning when junior RF Matt Koperniak (2 for 3, run) scored on a single from junior LF Brett Stevenson. Koperniak reached on a single with two outs before scoring all the way from first on Stevenson's single that landed between the center fielder and the left fielder in no man's land.

Knight crushed a solo home run in the fourth to give the Jumbos a 4-2 advantage as the visitors scored at least once in each inning from the third through the seventh to come away with the 8-2 win. Tufts scored via sacrifice flies in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, while Shackelford singled home Knight in the sixth to account for the eight runs.

Jumbo starter R.J. Hall went the distance to improve to 5-0 on the year. Hall struck out seven and scattered five hits in the complete-game victory. Knight finished 2 for 2 with two rbis and two runs in the opener. Shackelford was 2 for 3 with an rbi and a run. Junior CF Justin Mills scored twice.

Tufts struck first in game two, scratching across a run in the third on a sacrifice fly from senior LF Casey Santos-Ocampo that scored Shackelford. Trinity responded however, scoring five runs in the home half to open up a 5-1 lead. The Bantams tied things when sophomore 2B Robbie Cronin scored on a bases-loaded walk before senior CF Geoff Stillman scored on a ground ball out. Then came a three-run blast onto Broad Street off the bat of junior tri-captain C Alex Rodriguez that put Trinity ahead 5-1.

Trinity added a run in the bottom of the fourth when Koperniak skied a pop up in the infield that fell between the Tuft fielders, allowing Cronin to waltz home with two outs.

The Jumbos started their comeback in the eighth inning, scoring a pair of runs and bringing the tying run to the plate, but senior tri-captain southpaw Erik Mohl kept the damage to just the two runs. Sophomore RF Brandon Bay hit an rbi single and Knight had a sacrifice fly in the inning.

Tufts saved the full dramatics for the ninth inning, scoring six runs, highlighted by Knight's grand slam. Sheckelford singled to lead things off before the Jumbos put two on with two out. After a walk to load the bases, DeMaria singled to score Shackelford and make it a two-run game. Still with the bases loaded, Bay came through with an rbi single to cut the deficit to 6-5, setting up Knight with the bases loaded. Knight found himself down, 2-2, before sending his second home run of the afternoon over the right field wall to give Tufts the lead and eventual victory.

Knight finished game two 2 for 2 with two walks and five rbis, while Bay was 2 for 2 with two rbis. Varinos and Mills both had two hits, while Santos-Ocampo and DeMaria both scored twice. Tufts junior Spencer Langdon earned his fourth save of the season, keeping the Bantams off the scoreboard in the bottom of the ninth. 

Trinity first-year Jimmy Fahey lasted into the sixth inning in game two, earning a no decision after striking out four and allowing just one earned on four hits. Koperniak finished with three hits in game two while Rodriguez drove in three and Cronin scored twice.