Courtesy of Colby Sports Information | Photo Courtesy of Dean Denis
WATERVILLE, Maine – Making the first start of his collegiate career in a crucial game, first-year Elias Varinos threw eight-plus strong innings and the Tufts University baseball team forced a game seven at the 2017 NESCAC Championship with an 11-2 victory over Middlebury College on Sunday morning.
Another Jumbo first-year, Ryan Day, had five RBI in the game.
Varinos, the younger brother of Tufts ace Speros Varinos, allowed six hits and two runs (one earned) with four walks and seven strikeouts in 8.1 innings. He was consistently around the plate despite pitching the entire game in the rain. Varinos lost a shutout bid in the bottom of the ninth and was relieved by junior Ian Kinney.
After the Jumbos loaded the bases with one out and didn't score in the second due to a double play, they scored four times in the third. Senior Harry Brown walked and stole second with one out. After Tommy O'Hara singled with Brown moving to third, junior Nick Falkson plated Tufts' first run with a single to right. O'Hara scored when Day doubled to right field for a 2-0 margin. With Falkson on third, Casey Santos-Ocampo brought him in with a sacrifice fly which also moved Day to third. Day scored on a wild pitch for a 4-0 Jumbo lead.
Robert Erickson relieved Middlebury starter Spencer Shores in the third. The Jumbos loaded the bases on him with two outs in the fifth, but a line drive by Brown was caught by Panther center fielder Ryan Rizzo for the final out. The Jumbos did not score in the sixth despite two walks and a hit as O'Hara was caught stealing third for the second out and Erickson got the third out on a pop-up.
Tufts broke the game open with five runs in the top of the seventh. Tom Petry had an infield single and took second when Will Shackelford reached on a throwing error. Brown followed with a single to left to load the bases with one out. Oscar Kutch drove in a run after hit by a pitch. O'Hara reached on a fielder's choice to bring in the sixth run. After a walk to Falkson and a pitching change, Day cleared the bases with his double to right field.
With just two hits through six innings off Varinos, Middlebury doubled that total with seventh-inning singles by Alan Guild and Gray Goolsby. However, Varinos recorded an infield fly and a ground out to end the inning.
The Jumbos added two in the top of the ninth. Brown led off with a single and eventually scored on a passed ball. Kutch also singled and scored on a ground out by Day, his fifth RBI of the game.
For Middlebury, first-year Justin Han doubled to lead off the bottom of the ninth. After a walk and an out, Goolsby singled home Han to break up the shutout. Following a Tufts error, Rizzo's fielder's choice scored the second run.
Day finished 3-for-6 to lead Tufts' 11-hit attack. Brown was 2-for-4 and scored three times out of the top spot of the Jumbo order. Frickman was also 2-for-4, while O'Hara and Falkson both scored a pair of runs.
Middlebury's Guild was 2-for-3 with a run, while Goolsby had two hits and one RBI.
Petry had two defensive gems in the game at his second base position. He got a great jump on the ball and made a diving catch in short left center field. Petry also had a terrific play in what turned out to be a ground out by Kutch.