In 2022, the Tufts baseball team cruised to an 8–1 record during their spring break trip to North Carolina and Virginia. Following a 3–0 start to the 2023 campaign, which was achieved at home against non-conference opponents, Tufts spent their spring break in Southern California where they attained a 3–5 record against Pomona-Pitzer, Whittier College, University of La Verne and Chapman University.
The Jumbos began the road trip in Claremont, Calif. on March 18, where they claimed a 6–3 victory over the Pomona-Pitzer Sagehens. After a scoreless first inning, senior catcher Connor Bowman drew a leadoff walk in the top of the second inning, and a single by senior first baseman Connor Davidson advanced Bowman to second base. A wild pitch in the next at-bat advanced the runners to second and third base, which allowed Bowman to score on a one-out sacrifice fly hit by senior center fielder Jackson Duffy to left field, putting the Jumbos up 1–0.
With one out in the top of the third inning, sophomore left fielder Ben Leonard tripled. He scored in the following at-bat on an RBI single by junior third baseman Patrick Solomon. Solomon scored before the end of the following at-bat, which ended in a walk for senior right fielder Jimmy Evans, by stealing second base, stealing third base and scoring on the errant attempt by the Sagehens’ catcher to throw out Solomon stealing third. Evans hustled to third base on a single by Bowman to left field. Bowman then recorded his first stolen base of the season by stealing second base, which erased the Sagehens’ opportunity for an inning-ending double play.
Both displays of effort on the basepaths were rewarded; Evans scored the third run of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Davidson to center field, and Bowman scored from second base when a throwing error by the Sagehens’ third baseman allowed senior designated hitter Clay Sowell to reach first base safely and extended the inning. At the end of the third inning, the Jumbos led the Sagehens 5–0.
A walk by Leonard and an RBI triple by Solomon, each with two outs, extended the Jumbos’ lead to 6–0 in the top of the seventh inning. Senior starting pitcher Connor Kinney had a strong outing, pitching six innings of scoreless two-hit ball before conceding a leadoff home run to Pomona’s Nate Jakobs in the bottom of the seventh inning. Kinney exited the game in favor of senior pitcher Jack Schwartz with a final line of 6 ⅓ innings pitched, four hits, one walk, one earned run and five strikeouts. Schwartz was able to escape the one-out bases loaded jam with only two more runs allowed, which counted as earned runs against neither him nor Kinney. Graduate pitcher Brendan McFall recorded his first save of the season with a line of two innings pitched, three hits, one walk, no earned runs and three strikeouts to seal the Jumbos’ 6–3 victory.
After being swept in the March 19 double-header against Pomona-Pitzer, the Jumbos traveled to Whittier, Calif. to take on the Whittier College Poets in a single game. The Jumbos quickly fell down 0–3 in the bottom of the first inning but responded with 10 consecutive runs over the course of the next four innings.
With two outs in the top of the second inning, Duffy singled to center field and advanced to second base after Bowman drew a walk. Bowman advanced to third base and Duffy scored on an RBI single to left field by Sowell to cut the deficit to 1–3. Junior shortstop Ozzie Fleischer then drove in Bowman with an RBI infield single, which made the score 2–3. With two outs in the top of the third inning, senior left fielder Connor Flavin hit a game-tying solo home run to center field.
Bowman and Sowell each began the top of the fourth inning with singles to the outfield. They each scored on infield singles by sophomore second baseman Henry Fleckner and Solomon, respectively, to take a 5–3 lead. Solomon scored on a single by Davidson to left field and Davidson scored on a double by Flavin to center field. First-year right fielder Owen McKiernan reached base on an error by the Poets’ shortstop, which allowed Flavin to score. McKiernan scored on Bowman’s second hit of the inning, which was a double to left field and capped off a six-run inning in which the Jumbos jumped to a 9–3 lead.
In the top of the fifth inning, Fleckner singled to center field, advanced to second base on a balk and scored on an RBI single to center field by Solomon, which extended the Jumbos’ lead to 10–3.
After falling behind 0–3 in the first inning, first-year starting pitcher Jack McLaughlin bounced back and finished with a line of 3 ⅓ innings pitched, seven hits, one walk, one hit-by-pitch, three earned runs and one strikeout. Senior pitcher Matt Donato turned in a strong relief appearance, recording the win and allowing only one hit across 1 ⅔ scoreless innings. McFall once again pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Bowman ― 3-for-4 with a walk, RBI and three runs scored ― and Flavin ― 3-for-6 with two RBIs and three runs scored ― led the way for the Jumbos offensively in the big 14–6 win over the Poets.
The Jumbos’ final win of their road trip came via an impressive complete game shutout thrown in the series opener against Chapman University by Kinney, who improved to 2–0 on the season. He was given run support in the top of the third inning from a 2-RBI double by Leonard to right center field. An RBI double by Evans to left center field and an RBI single up the middle by Bowman doubled the Jumbos’ lead in the fifth inning. Kinney’s complete game shutout featured nine hits and six strikeouts and he was named NESCAC Pitcher of the Week for his performance. The fact that Kinney issued no walks and only allowed one extra-base hit over the course of nine scoreless innings is a testament to the outstanding stamina that he had to maintain his pitch command throughout the game.
“I think it’s kind of just a matter of knowing when I have to be perfect versus knowing when I can kind of go around where I need the pitch to be, trusting that the guys behind me are going to pick me up, which they did throughout all nine innings against Chapman,” Kinney said.
Currently holding a 6–5 season record, the Jumbos resume play at home on Wednesday at 3 p.m. against UMass Boston. They then begin their 2023 NESCAC campaign at home against Bates on Friday at 3 p.m.