NCAA Regional: TCNJ 4, Tufts 3

NCAA Regional: TCNJ 4, Tufts 3

Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Senior Alex Christian hit a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth lifting The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) to a 4-3 walk-off victory against Tufts University in NCAA Division III Baseball Championship Regional action on Thursday night.

Rookie Jacob Simon had led off the inning for the Lions with a single to right-center. When junior Mike Follet attempted to bunt Simon over, the Jumbos threw the ball away. With runners on second and third, Christian came through in the clutch with the game-winning hit to center field.

The Lions (32-11) advance into the winner's bracket and will play Southern Maine on Friday at 6 p.m. The Huskies defeated Castleton 5-3 on Thursday at the Syracuse Regional. The Jumbos (30-9-1) will play Oswego State on Friday at 2:30 p.m. in an elimination game for Tufts. The Lakers (29-8) defeated Ithaca in the opening game of the six-team Regional 11-10.

The Tufts-TCNJ game was delayed by more than three hours due to a tornado warning that halted action between Southern Maine and Castleton before the Jumbos took the field. First pitch between the Jumbos and the Lions wasn't until approximately 9:15 p.m., and the game ended around midnight.

Junior Tommy O'Hara was 2-for-3, with a double, a walk, two RBIs and a run scored as Tufts built a 3-2 lead. After becoming Tufts' career leader in RBIs during the NESCAC Championship, O'Hara added two to the total tonight. In the first, senior Harry Brown reached by an error and advanced to third on a ground out and a wild pitch. O'Hara's double down the third-base line brought Brown home with the first run of the game. Then in the third, senior Oscar Kutch hit a one-out triple and scored on a ground out by O'Hara for a 2-0 Jumbo lead.

Tufts starter Speros Varinos didn't allowed a hit through 2.2 innings when TCNJ's Thomas Persichetti homered to left cutting the Tufts lead to 2-1. Junior  Patrick Anderson followed with a double to right, but Varinos got out of the inning with a ground ball.

The Lions tied the game with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Christian led off with a base hit and was sacrificed to second by Tommy McCarthy. Ben Varone followed with a single to right-center scoring Christian. Varone took second on a wild pitch with one out, but Varinos retired the next two batters to strand him there.

The Jumbos' NESCAC Pitcher of the Year overcame an infield error in the sixth with a pair of strikeouts to carry the game into the seventh with Tufts up 3-2. He allowed a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh before finishing his outing with a strikeout and a fly ball. Varinos went seven full allowing six hits and two runs with eight strikeouts and two walks.

The Jumbos went to first-year Brad Marchetti in the eighth and he got started with a 1-2-3 inning. However, he would take the loss in the ninth.

The Lions out-hit the Jumbos 9-5. Christian finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run. Varone was 2-for-3 and Simon finished 2-for-4 for the Lions. Junior Joe Cirillo started on the mound and went eight innings allowing five hits and three runs (two earned) with nine strikeouts and two walks. Junior Matt Curry pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for TCNJ and ended up with the victory.

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