NESCAC Baseball Championship Heads to Colby

NESCAC Baseball Championship Preview
HADLEY, Mass. – The 2019 NESCAC Baseball Championship, a three-day, double-elimination tournament, begins on Friday, May 10 and runs through Sunday, May 12 at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Tufts has earned the top seed in the East Division, while Williams is the top seed in the West Division. Bates and Middlebury are the No. 2 seeds in the East and West, respectively. 
 
 
All games of the NESCAC Baseball Championship will be streamed online via the Northeast Sports Network (NSN), links can be found at NESCAC.com. Broadcasts are also available through Roku, AppleTV, and Amazon Fire. Search for and download the NESCAC Network channel. Results will be posted at NESCAC.com at the end of each day.
 
In the West Division, Williams and Middlebury finished with identical divisional records of 7-5. In head-to-head competition, Williams won two of three games against Middlebury to earn the No. 1 seed in the West. 
 
Williams (23-9, 7-5 NESCAC West) qualified for the NESCAC Championship for the first time since 2012 with a NESCAC West series win over Wesleyan and is the top seed in the West for the first time since 2010. The Ephs won the NESCAC crown in 2001 and 2007. Williams is hitting .308 while scoring 6.8 runs per game. Senior Doug Schaffer (New Haven, Conn.) leads NESCAC with a .433 batting average, is slugging .633, and has a league-best 46 RBIs. Eric Pappas (Providence, R.I.), a sophomore, gives Williams a 1-2 punch at the plate, hitting .416 and scoring 36 runs. Senior Jack Bohen (Wallingford, Conn.) leads the pitching staff, ranking second in the conference with a 2.22 ERA in 44.2 innings pitched. Junior Kyle Dean (Freemont, Calif.) has five saves and 23 strikeouts and Eph pitchers have combined for the second-best ERA in the conference (3.56).
 
Williams will face Bates in the opening game of the NESCAC Championship. Bates (19-14, 9-3 NESCAC East) swept Bowdoin in the final NESCAC East series of the regular season to earn a spot in the tournament field. The Bobcats posted their best NESCAC East record in program history at 9-3 and are making their third straight NESCAC Tournament appearance and fifth overall, all since 2014. Sophomore Christian Beal (Flossmoor, Ill.) (.371) and junior Jack Arend (Newfields, N.H.) (.370) are two of the top five hitters in the league. Junior Nolan Collins (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.) has 52 strikeouts to pace conference pitchers and carries a 2.44 ERA with seven wins. Senior Justin Foley (Lynnfield, Mass.) has worked 50.2 innings and owns the third-best ERA in the conference at 3.55 to go with 45 strikeouts. Williams and Bates did not face each other in the regular season, and will meet for the first time in the NESCAC Championship,
 
Tufts (26-8, 10-2 NESCAC East) is the top seed in the East for the sixth straight year and 10th time overall. The Jumbos have played in the last three championship series, winning their fifth NESCAC title in 2017. Tufts is the top offensive team in the league, hitting .312 and scoring 8.7 runs per game. The Jumbos also lead the conference in slugging (.443) and have hit 18 home runs to lead the NESCAC. Tufts senior R.J. Hall (Marietta, Ga.) has been one of the league’s top pitchers this spring, leading NESCAC with a 1.57 ERA. First-year pitcher Aidan Tucker (Oradell, N.J.) has contributed six wins and his 39 strikeouts are among the league leaders. Rookie Peter DeMaria (Chatham, N.J.) ranks second in NESCAC with 32 RBIs, while junior Elias Varinos (Middleton, Mass.) leads Tufts with a .363 batting average and senior Casey Santos-Ocampo (Naples, Fla.) has scored a league-leading 42 runs.
 
The Jumbos will play Middlebury (23-11, 7-5 NESCAC West) in the second game on Friday. Middlebury is in the NESCAC Championship field for the fourth time in program history and the second time in three seasons after winning its NESCAC West series against Amherst (2-1). The Panthers have reached the championship series twice (2006, 2017) and won their only NESCAC title in 2006. Middlebury junior Andrew Hennings (Oak Park, Ill.) leads the Panthers at the plate with a .347 average. Sophomore Henry Strmecki (Wilton, Conn.) is tied for the conference lead in home runs (5) and is hitting .330 this season with 24 RBIs, while junior Brooks Carroll (Davidson, N.C.) is hitting .315 with 23 RBIs and has 20 stolen bases this season. The Panthers boast the top three leaders in stolen bases, led by junior Justin Han’s (Vienna, Va.) 22 steals. As a team, Middlebury has swiped a league-best and school-record 142 bases. Senior Colby Morris’ (Del Mar, Calif.) 50 strikeouts are second-most in the league. He has a 2.80 ERA over 61 innings on the mound to lead the Panther pitching staff.
 
Tufts and Middlebury split a doubleheader on April 6. Tufts won the first game, 4-3, and Middlebury took the nightcap, 9-6. The NESCAC Championship series between the two teams is tied at 3-3. In 2017, the most recent meeting, the Jumbos defeated Middlebury twice on Sunday (11-2 and 10-6) to win their fifth and most recent NESCAC title.