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

Tufts baseball splits doubleheader against Eastern Connecticut State

Jumbos bounce back with a game 2 win against ECSU to earn a split.

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Liam Wilson is pictured on March 9 against Eastern Connecticut State.

Tufts baseball took on Eastern Connecticut State University on Saturday in a doubleheader. The first game started at noon, and the weather, while not rainy, was certainly cold. Junior Connor Podeszwa was given the start on the mound for the Jumbos, while Matthew Wootton took the ball for the Warriors.

It was a consequential game for both the Warriors and the Jumbos, with the Warriors having lost three straight games, two of which were to Shenandoah University. In contrast, the Jumbos were looking to keep their undefeated season hope alive after a 26–5 home win against Brandeis University on March 6. In that matchup, notable performances came from senior infielder/third baseman Patrick Solomon and first-year first baseman/outfielder AJ Lysko, both of whom hit the team’s first home runs of the season. Senior pitcher Silas Reed started on the mound, pitching four and one-third innings of one-run ball.

Spectators were unsure of how Tufts would play against Brandeis after losing a large portion of its pitching staff from last season.

Senior captain and infielder Ozzie Fleischer was really happy with the offense against Brandeis, saying, “I think the offense is definitely coming together more so than it did last year. There have been some young pitchers that have really filled in some roles that I think people definitely had some questions about. So the young guys have definitely stepped up and filled a huge role for us this year.”

On Saturday, Wootton pitched a stellar first game against the Jumbos, throwing 85 pitches over six scoreless innings. In contrast, Podeswa recorded a strikeout for the third out in the first inning, but gave up a double in the second inning and then missed a pickoff attempt, leading senior infielder Ryan Parent to advance to third. After senior outfielder Alejandro Soriano was hit with a pitch, infielder Jared Clark singled, pushing Soriano to second and Parent home. From there the door was open for the Warriors to step on the gas, which they did in the third and the fifth innings, scoring two runs in each. Outfielder Ray Leonzi homered in both innings for the Warriors. Leonzi this season is hitting .304, just shy of his .358 mark from last year. In a somewhat coincidental turn of events, it was outfielder Jason Claiborn who scored on both Leonzi homers. 

For the Jumbos it was sophomore infielder Jesse McCullough who scored first after a double down the left field line hit by Fleischer. Then, on a sac fly from junior infielder Henry Fleckner, Fleischer himself crossed home plate to bring the score to 5–2.

Podeszwa threw 91 pitches over five innings, giving up four earned runs and striking out five batters. Sophomore reliever Cole Donato threw 54 pitches, striking out three batters over four innings of work. The Warriors batted .200 on the day, while the Jumbos hit .194.

Game 2 had graduate student Gavin Brown starting on the mound for the Jumbos, while Dan Driscoll started on the mound for the Warriors. It was a game largely controlled by the Jumbos. A sac fly in the first inning by first-year outfielder Malachi Pena scored Fleckner, then in the second, first-year infielder Tyler Wong scored on a fielder’s choice and Fleckner doubled, scoring graduate student infielder/outfielder Connor Flavin to make the score 2–0. Senior catcher/first baseman Connor Brala homered in the fourth inning, putting the Jumbos up 3–0. Brown pitched four and two-thirds innings, throwing 88 pitches with four strikeouts. The Jumbos worked in seniors Liam Wilson and Robert Gray before finally bringing in junior Jacob Lapp to record the final seven outs on the mound. Infield Zach Donahue managed to score in the fifth inning for the Warriors, but momentum swung back into the hands of the Jumbos as sophomore outfielder Owen McKiernan singled to drive in Fleischer in the seventh for Tufts’ fifth and final run of the day. The Jumbos batted .258 on the day, while the Warriors in the second game batted just .156.

“After losing game 1, I thought our response in game two was phenomenal. We got on them early and never really let up after that,” Fleischer said. “Outside of winning two games of a doubleheader, winning game two after losing game one is one of the hardest things to do in baseball, and I was super proud of the guys [for] how we responded. [We had] just a great competitive attitude all day [and] great energy to bounce back like that. Just a great team effort.” 

The Jumbos have back to back home games this week, beating Johnson & Wales University 12–8 on Tuesday and facing MIT at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.