NASHUA, NH - The Tufts University baseball team had 15 hits and scored in six of eight innings to win the 2016 NESCAC Championship with an 18-6 victory over Trinity College on Sunday at historic Holman Stadium.
The Jumbos (32-6) won the conference title for the fourth time, adding it to their NESCAC crowns from 2011, 2010, and 2002. They receive the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Division III Baseball Championship announcement is due tonight at midnight.
Head coach John Casey's Jumbos put themselves in the driver's seat at NESCAC's with wins on Friday and Saturday. Tufts took its opener over Amherst 5-4 on Friday and then pulled away from Wesleyan for a 6-1 winner's bracket victory on Saturday. The Jumbos needed only one win on Sunday to earn the conference title.
Trinity, which entered the tournament with a 15-19 overall record, played three times on Saturday and won twice to make it to Sunday's Championship round. The Bantams had wins over Amherst (13-6) and Wesleyan (10-4) in elimination games. They finish their season with a 17-21 record.
The top of the order was immense for the Jumbos in the final game. The first four batters combined to go 11 for 20 with 10 rbis and 11 runs scored. Lead-off man Harry Brown was 3 for 4 with four runs and an rbi, Christian Zazzali went 2 for 4 with four rbis and two runs in the two-hole, third-hitter Tommy O'Hara finished 3 for 6 with three rbis and two runs, and clean-up man Matt Moser was 3 for 6 with three runs and two rbis.
Trinity got off to another quick start as senior CF Nick Pezzella led off the game with a single to right field and later scored on a ground ball off the bat of senior 3B Dan Pidgeon to give the Bantams an early 1-0 lead.
In the home half of the first, Zazzali and Brown scored runs for the Jumbos on a Trinity error to take a 2-1 lead after one inning of play. Tufts then loaded the bases with two outs in the second inning, but a great diving play by Trinity 2B Ben Reinisch got the Bantams out of the jam unscathed.
Moser led off the bottom of the third with a double to left-center field and later scored on a hard hit ball by sophomore LF Stephan White to give Tufts a 3-1 lead. O'Hara came through with a clutch, two-out, rbi single in the fourth that brought home Brown and opened up a three-run lead for the Jumbos (4-1).
In the fifth, Jumbo sophomore Mike McLaughlin hit a high fly ball down the right-field line that bounced off the wall and stayed in the park. However, Trinity RF Brendan Pierce collided with the wall and was injured on the play which allowed McLaughlin to round the bases for an inside the park home run to give Tufts a 5-1 advantage.
Tufts scored seven in the sixth inning to break the game open. O'Hara singled and scored in the inning, while both McLaughlin and White had bases-loaded walks for rbis and also scored. Zazzali capped it with a two-run single.
Trinity got four runs back in the top of the seventh on an rbi fielder's choice by Pezzella that scored junior DH Ricky Spencer. That was followed by runs from sophomore LF Matthew Toth, Cullinane, and Reinisch on a pair of Tufts errors.
In the eighth, the Bantams scored an unearned run on a Tufts blunder in the infield to cut the deficit to six at 12-6. However, rbi doubles from Zazzali and O'Hara in the bottom half of the inning put the Tufts lead back at nine (15-6). A two-run home run off the bat of Moser and an rbi single by sophomore Nick Falkson capped the Jumbos' day at the plate and accounted for the final score of 18-6.
Tufts starter Andrew David went 6.2 innings allowing six hits and five runs (one earned) to improve to 5-1. Ian Kinney pitched the final 2.1 innings giving up one hit and one unearned run.
The Bantams used six pitchers in the game with starter Richie Cardillo taking the loss. All four runs he gave up were unearned. Scott Cullin led Trinity offensively with three hits.
In addition to the fireworks produced by the top of Tufts' batting order, McLaughlin, Dan Kelly, and Harrison Frickman all scored twice for the Jumbos.