MANSFIELD, Conn. – Freshman Owen Marica (Haddam) and senior Dale Keller (Oxford) – batting 8-9 in the lineup -- each had two hits and combined for three runs but the Eastern Connecticut State University baseball team couldn't dig i out of an early six-run hole in an 8-4 non-conference loss to Tufts University Monday evening at the Eastern Baseball Stadium.
Peter DeMaria's two-run double highlighted a four-run Tufts (24-7) third inning to help carry the Jumbos to an early 6-0 advantage before Eastern (19-15) scratched back for three in the third and had the bases loaded with one out, but winning pitcher Spencer Langdon (1-0) induced an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play on a 2-0 pitch to escape further damage.
Trailing by that 6-3 score, Eastern got another (unearned) run back off new pitcher Steven Landry in the seventh on an leadoff single by Marica, a passed ball, walk and infield error, but the Jumbos added insurance runs in the eighth and ninth to post their second straight win over Eastern after losing five straight at the hands of the Warriors.
Ranked fifth in New England, Tufts has won nine of its last 11 and despite the loss, the Warriors are winners of seven of their last nine.
Making his seventh start of the season, Eastern junior righty John Parker (Brunswick, ME) was lifted in the third and was charged with five runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks in sustaining his sixth loss against three wins. He did not strike out a batter.
An infield error helped Tufts score three unearned runs in its four-run third inning, The Jumbos had four hits in the inning – scoring two runs on a double by Peter DeMaria. JP Knight and Harrison Frickman contributed run-scoring singles in the frame.
Eastern freshman catcher Matt Malcom (East Lyme) reached safely for the 16th straight game – the longest streak by a player this year – with a walk in the three-run third. His ground ball to third in the eighth also produced Eastern's final run when it was thrown away.
Junior righty Jack Risley (Willimantic), sophomore lefty Jordan Federer (Plainfield) and senior righty Cole Ogorzalek (Portland) combined for four scoreless innings in middle relief to keep the Warriors within striking distance. Risley gave up two hits and a walk with two strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings as the third of seven pitchers.
Frickman had three hits and drove in two runs and leadoff hitter Elias Varinos reached five times with three hits and two walks. He drove in a run with a ninth-inning double and scored one run.
Eastern visits Rhode Island College Tuesday in a Little East Conference game at 3:30 p.m.