WATERVILLE, Maine — The Tufts University baseball team won the New England Small College Athletic Conference title for the fifth time after a 10-6 win over Middlebury College in the championship game on Sunday at Colby College.
The Jumbos (30-8-1 overall) won back-to-back titles after beating Trinity College last year. Tufts also had championships in 2002, 2010, and 2011.
The Jumbos had to do it the hard way this year. Tufts needed to beat Middlebury twice on Sunday to take the championship. Game six of the double-elimination tourney started at 8:45 a.m. due to a possibility of heavy rain in the afternoon. The Jumbos won 11-2 to set up a winner-take-all title game. The teams had to play in rain all day, but the seventh game finally ended at 3:15 p.m. with a winner.
Tommy O’Hara, who had clutch hits all weekend for the Jumbos, had three hits, drove in five runs, and scored once in the championship game. Harry Brown added three runs, two RBI, one hit, and two walks for the champions. Harrison Frickman also scored three runs, while Oscar Kutch had two hits, two runs, and one RBI.
Sam Graf also played well this weekend for Middlebury and ended the final game with two hits and three RBI. Justin Han added two hits, one RBI, and one run. Kevin Woodring also had two hits for the Panthers.
Ian Kinney entered the game in the fifth inning and picked up the win by getting just two outs. Tufts ace Speros Varinos went the final 2.1 innings to earn the save, striking out three and allowing two hits.
The Panthers struck for the first run of the game in the first inning. Han had a two-out double to right field and scored on a double by Graf.
Frickman walked in the bottom of the third inning and took second on a single by Christian Zazzali. Brown followed with a triple to help the Jumbos go up 2-1. Tommy O’Hara had an RBI ground out to bring in Brown.
Middlebury (22-16) had lone runs in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game at 3-3. Andrew Hennings had the lone homer of the seven games in the tourney with a blast to left field to cut the lead to 3-2 after four innings.
Alan Guild walked to lead off the fifth inning for the Panthers. He took second on a sacrifice bunt by Gray Goolsby and came around to score when Ryan Rizzo singled to center field and an error allowed the run to score from third.
The Jumbos took control at 6-3 with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Frickman reached on an infield error, Brown walked, and Kutch singled to plate Frickman for a 4-3 margin. O’Hara’s RBI single brought in Brown with the second run of the inning, and Stephan White had an RBI when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Tufts added three more runs in the sixth inning on a two-run double by O’Hara, who scored on a single by Nick Falkson for the ninth run.
The Panthers made it interesting with three runs in the top of the seventh inning. Han had an RBI single to left field to score Woodring, while Graf drove in Rizzo and Brooks Carroll with a two-run single. With the bases loaded, Varinos was able to get a strikeout to end the inning.
Tufts added an insurance run in the eighth inning on O’Hara’s double to left field that brought in Kutch, who had a one-out single.