WILLIMANTIC, CT - Keystone College scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning and gained the upper hand at the NCAA New England Baseball Regional with an 11-3 victory over Tufts on Friday at Eastern Connecticut State University.
With the victory over the Jumbos in the winner's bracket final of the Regional, the Giants (36-9) advance to the championship round. Tufts (34-7) will play the winner of Friday night's Oswego State versus Salem State game on Saturday at noon. The winner of that contest will move on to face Keystone in the championship round.
The Giants, who had advanced with wins over Suffolk and Salem State earlier in the bracket, improved to 3-0 in the tournament with a 12-hit attack against the Jumbos. Alex Herceg was 3 for 5 with three runs and an rbi, while Brandon Eady went 2 for 4 with three rbis and a run.
Eady's two-run single was the centerpiece of Keystone's six-run second inning. The Giants had scored on a Tufts error prior to that for the first run of the game. Chris Triano, Billy Nelson, and Austin Chaszar all had rbi singles in the inning as well.
Tufts had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. Mike McLaughlin led off with an infield single and went to second on an error. Tom Petry was hit by a pitch, and then both Jumbos scored on a double to center field by Eric Schnepf.
Nelson, the Keystone starting pitcher, would hold the Jumbos to three runs through six innings. Tufts scored off him in the fifth witout a hit. Schnepf walked and went to second when Harry Brown was hit by a pitch. Christian Zazzali sacrificed both runners and Tommy O'Hara brought in the run with a groundball to shortstop.
With the game at 6-3 Giants heading into the bottom of the fifth, Keystone capitalized on three Tufts errors to score three more runs and build a 9-3 advantage. Herceg and Eady both hit run-scoring doubles in the frame.
Danny O'Neill pitched two innings of one-hit, no-run relief for the Giants. The Jumbos loaded the bases on him with one out in the seventh on a single and two walks, but a double play ended the threat.
Keystone added single runs in the seventh and eighth. Herceg and Triano led off each inning with a single and scored. Dan Maguire struck out the three batters he faced in the ninth to finish off the victory.
Triano was 2 for 5 with two runs and an rbi for the Giants, Nelson went 2 for 4 with an rbi, and Chaszar had a 2 for 3 game with two runs and two rbis. Nelson improved to 5-1 with the win.
Schnepf walked three times to go with his rbi and run scored for Tufts. The Jumbos earned seven walks in total. Andrew David took the pitching loss going 1.1 innings allowing four hits and six runs (five earned). Joe Thomas relieved for 6.2 innings giving up eight hist and five runs (three earned). Tufts was charged with five errors in the game. They left nine men on base.
The championship round starts with a game on Saturday at 3:30. The Giants will need only one win to capture the title. An if necessary second game will be played on Sunday at a start time to be announced.
The Jumbos tied the school record for victories in a season with their 34th in a 2-0 win over Oswego on Thursday. Tufts had opened Regional play with an 8-1 victory against Mitchell on Wednesday.