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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Tufts baseball ends California campaign with 2 wins, 1 loss against Whittier College

The team finished 4–4 in California, enjoying the warm weather before coming back to Medford.

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Owen McKiernan is pictured in the March 13 game against MIT.

Tufts baseball headed to California last week, playing eight games in the warm California weather, including a tripleheader against Whittier College this past weekend. Senior captain and shortstop Ozzie Fleischer commented on the team’s morale over the course of the California trip.

“[California] was awesome. Really good to get out there again, the weather was beautiful — much better than being in Medford. Overall, it was a great trip. I think all the guys had a great time,” Fleischer said.

The team headed into the Whittier games with an even 5–5 record, having won two games previously in their California campaign. Game 1 took place on Friday, an afternoon game to start off their series against Whittier. However, this game did not start in the Jumbos’ favor, as the Poets started with substantial momentum, putting up two runs in the first inning and two runs in the third inning. A triple from center fielder Lew Rice batted in left fielder and pitcher Teige Barrett, before Rice himself scored later in the inning. In the third inning, Barrett added to his total for the day, scoring another run, along with right fielder James Stirton. The Jumbos had issues converting runners into runs as 16 were stranded on base, and the team went only 2–13 with runners in scoring position. Junior Connor Podeswa otherwise pitched a stellar game, throwing 121 pitches and only allowing five hits. Tufts managed to rally in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings with junior designated hitter Ben Leonard adding two runs to his season total, and senior third baseman Patrick Solomon adding one. The Jumbos fell 4–3 to the Poets.

Fleischer mentioned the game was a bit of a wake-up call, and the team realized they needed to make a change heading into the next day with two more games against the Poets.

“As a unit, [we] flipped the switch a little bit and just decided to go out there and let it hang on the field and let everything go from the past and just go be baseball players,” Fleischer said. “I think we played really loose. I think a big thing that we’ve been trying to work towards as a team is playing fearless. And I think we kind of did that a little bit on Saturday.”

Game 2 against the Poets opened up the opportunity for the Jumbos to write the script. Tufts put up a 14–0 mercy-rule win in just five innings. Senior pitcher Silas Reed led the team with nine strikeouts, five shutout innings and only allowed six total hits, all in 102 pitches in five innings. Fleischer was thrilled with Reed’s performance.

“[Reed] pitched beautifully in a really tough weather situation. It was raining pretty steadily and pretty wet for that first Saturday game. And [he] gritted that out and pitched beautifully for those five innings that we played, not giving up a run,” he said.

Additionally, the momentum started on the Jumbos side of the ball with a Leonard leadoff home run. Seven different players scored against the Poets: Leonard, four runs; junior center fielder Henry Fleckner, three runs; sophomore left fielder Owen McKiernan, three runs; first-year right fielder Malachi Pena, one run; senior first baseman Jackson Reydel, one run; Solomon, one run run; Fleischer, one run. While it was Reed on the mound for the entirety of the five innings for the Jumbos, the Poets shuffled through their pitching deck, putting five different pitchers up on the mound against Jumbo batters. 

Yet again, the Jumbos wrote the script in game 3 against the Poets, with graduate student pitcher Gavin Brown leading the team. Brown threw 104 pitches, which included seven strikeouts and seven shutout innings while only walking one batter. The Poets only had three hits on the day, with Stirton managing to get two hits, along with infielder Ty Aldridge who got one hit. Solomon, senior catcher Connor Brala and Fleischer led the offense for the Jumbos, all of whom had two runs on the day. An additional four Jumbos scored as well. The Poets shuffled through four pitchers in this matchup. Game 3 ended 10–0 in favor of the Jumbos.

The three games put the Jumbos at 7–6 on the season so far. They will take on University of Massachusetts Boston on Wednesday before opening their conference season against the Bowdoin Polar Bears in Brunswick, Maine this weekend. Fleischer is looking forward to the challenge and is confident in the abilities of his squad.

“Every team is pretty darn competitive these days. … None of these conference series can be taken lightly,” Fleischer said. “But I think if we just go out and play our brand of baseball and do our best to just try and play fearlessly and learn from this last week in California, I think we should be able to go out and grab our first conference series.”