Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information
WATERVILLE, Maine – After Middlebury College forced a decisive Game 7 of the NESCAC Championship earlier in the day, the Tufts University baseball team earned an 8-3 victory over the Panthers to secure their sixth conference title on Sunday afternoon at Colby College.
Spencer Langdon pitched six solid innings and a two-run home run by Ryan Day powered a four-run second inning for the Jumbos as they won their third conference crown in the last four years. Tufts (29-9) receives NESCAC's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Division III Championship announcement is scheduled for Monday at noon. The berth will be the eighth overall for the Jumbos.
Middlebury (26-13), who won Game 6 of the tournament earlier on Sunday 12-8, will await a potential at-large NCAA berth.
Jumbo Peter DeMaria got the second inning started with a double to right-center and then Day followed with his first home run of the season, a two-run bomb to right for a 2-0 lead. After a walk to Eric Schnepf, Will Shackelford doubled down the left-field line making it 3-0. Shackelford then scored the fourth and final run of the frame on a fielder's choice by Casey Santos-Ocampo.
Langdon threw a double-play ball (4-6-3) in the first and worked out of a jam in the second. Panther Sam Graf led off the second with a walk and stole second. Gray Goolsby singled him to third, but Langdon got a pop-up out on a nice play by Elias Varinos and a ground ball to end the threat.
Middlebury would cut the lead in half (4-2) with a pair in the bottom of the third. Brooks Carroll singled to center and then Andrew Hennings reached by error. After a Justin Han single loaded the bases, a fielder's choice from Alan Guild scored Carroll and then Hennings scored on another Jumbo error while Guild stole second.
The Jumbos were able to restore their two-run lead (6-2) in the top of the fourth. Shackelford (3 for 5, two runs) doubled to left-center leading off and scored on a single to center by Justin Mills. Red-hot Kyle Cortese then hit a two-out triple to right-center scoring Mills.
Middlebury put two on after two were out in the bottom of the fourth with a catcher's interference and a walk. However, Langdon rolled a fielder's choice to stymie the threat.
In the top of the sixth, the Jumbos added another run as Cortese walked and DeMaria hit a ball into the left-center gap for a two-out rbi double putting the Tufts margin at 7-2. Langdon finished his outing with a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth. He allowed five hits and one earned run.
Reliever Steven Landry entered the game in the seventh and was greeted by a double from Carroll. Hennings followed with an infield single sending Carroll to third and then a sac fly by Han scored the run. Landry got a ground out and a fly ball to limit the damage and Tufts went to the eighth leading 7-3.
A lead-off double by Varinos, a sacrifice from Mills and an RBI single by Santos-Ocampo gave Tufts more insurance in the top of the eighth as they took an 8-3 advantage.
Jumbo reliever Michael Volgende came on in the eighth and retired the side in order on three groundballs. In the Middlebury ninth, a double by Hennings and a single by Han put two runners on, but Volgende clinched the championship with a strikeout.
Varinos, Mills, and DeMaria each had two hits as Tufts out-hit the Panthers 12-9 in the final. Han was 3-for-4 for Middlebury while Hennings and Carroll both had two hits. Carroll scored twice.
Middlebury used five pitchers in the game with starter Bobby Sullivan (1.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R) taking the loss.