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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Tufts baseball goes 2–1 in series to defeat Bates

Jumbos rebound after game one loss to take the series.

Jesse Mccullough 6.JPG

Jesse McCullough is pictured against University of Massachusetts Boston on March 27.

Tufts baseball took on a triple header at home against the Bates College Bobcats this past weekend, playing two games at midday on April 6 and one at midday on April 7.

In the first game, the Jumbos started out strong, taking a 3–1 lead after the first inning, with runs scored by junior outfielder Ben Leonard, junior outfielder Henry Fleckner and sophomore infielder Jesse McCullough. The game swung back in the direction of Bates in the later innings, with the Bobcats taking control of the game for the middle portion, scoring six unanswered runs to take a 6–3 lead going into the fifth inning. It was a game for Tufts that was plagued by an unusual amount of errors: five of the 10 Bates runs on the day were unearned.

Senior captain Ozzie Fleischer found the loss frustrating, but not surprising.

“I can’t really say we deserved to win that game, and I guess the baseball gods had their way,” he said.

Thankfully for the Jumbos, a single into left field from first-year outfielder Malachi Pena brought Leonard and Fleischer home. Sophomore outfielder Owen McKiernan brought McCullough home with an RBI single to tie the score at six.

Two unearned runs from the Bobcats put the score back at 8–6, putting the pressure on Fleischer to come up big for the Jumbos and tie it back up. He put the ball over the fence for a two-run home run for the first time in his Tufts baseball career, after over 300 at bats. Fleischer called it “one of the coolest things that has happened to me personally on a baseball field.”

A scoreless seventh inning sent the game to an extra eighth inning, where a solo homer from graduate student first baseman Connor Flavin put the Jumbos up by a run. Bates responded by putting up a quick run to tie the game, and Bates sophomore Liam Yardley walked it off with an RBI single that scored junior Brennan Kelley and gave Bates the win, snapping Tufts’ eight game winning streak against them.

Fleischer credited the loss to the fact that “We played a very messy game, which is very unlike us, and we still had plenty of opportunities to win that game,” Fleischer said.

Game two against the Bobcats was a game led by the Jumbos by senior pitcher Silas Reed, who pitched a complete game shutout with 17 strikeouts, the most in a single game by a Jumbo pitcher in the last 25 seasons. The Jumbos came out with bats swinging, with five separate players scoring runs and playing a much stronger defensive game, not allowing the Bobcats to put anything on the scoreboard. Sophomore catcher Malcolm Whitfield, Fleischer and Flavin led the offense for the Jumbos, all putting up a hit, a run and an RBI. Fleischer had another home run on the day, a crazy series of events given he had never hit a home run in his Jumbo career before Saturday.

Game three against Bates was again one controlled by Tufts in nearly every aspect. The Jumbos started out strong defensively and offensively, led by graduate student pitcher Gavin Brown. Senior catcher Connor Brala started the scoring with a solo shot in the third. In the fourth, Tufts put up a four-spot, kickstarted by a solo homer by McCullough. The Bobcats were unable to get on the board until the sixth inning when the score sat 9–0 in favor of the Jumbos. Bates senior Chris Cimino was brought home by a single from teammate junior Brandon Biggane to make the score 9–1. Bates was able to add additional runs in the seventh on a sac fly from Cimino and in the eighth on an RBI single by Yardley. 

The Jumbos have spent time under the direction of Coach Svagdis this season not getting too worked up by a loss in the earlier season, knowing that playing the harder games now will help them in May. They also proved this weekend that a loss early in a series won’t rattle them, as shown in a few different instances this season.

On Tuesday, Tufts suffered a close loss to Endicott College, losing 3–1. They bounced back on Wednesday, though, handing a 9–1 loss to MIT. They play a tough three game NESCAC series at home this weekend against Colby College, one of the stronger opponents in the conference. They will play the series opener on Friday, and the final two games on Saturday.

Fleischer spoke about the games this weekend. “They have come to be probably our toughest NESCAC east for the last three years since I’ve been here. They always play us super well. I know a lot of those guys, they have a pretty talented group. I’ve played with some of them in the summers,” he said. “I think if we play the brown and blue style of baseball, I think we’re going to be fine and should hopefully go out there and take three and then go up to Bowdoin on Sunday and grab that third game also.”