CORTLAND, N.Y. – Seniors Harrison Frickman and Casey Santos-Ocampo hit home runs that gave the Jumbos an early lead and the Tufts University baseball team went on to a 13-5 victory over Penn State Harrisburg in the opening round of the NCAA Regional at Cortland State Friday afternoon.
The Jumbos won their 30th game (30-9), finished with 19 hits, turned four double plays and got a solid start from senior righty RJ Hall (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER). Tufts will play Cortland in the winner's bracket tomorrow at noon. The host Red Dragons won 7-3 over Alvernia in Friday's other opening-round game. The double-elimination tournament continues through Sunday.
Penn State Harrisburg (32-14-1), led by two hits apiece from Miguel Torres and Casey Winters, will play Alvernia in an elimination game on Saturday at 9 am.
After stranding a pair of runners in the top of the first, the Jumbos took a 2-0 lead in the second when senior catcher Harrison Frickman launched his fifth home run of the year scoring JP Knight who had reached by error. Tufts would load the bases after the home run, but could not add to the lead. They would leave 16 runners on base in the game, though ultimately it did not affect them.
Hall retired the first eight batters before walking Lions junior catcher Tyler Aug with one gone in the third. After a Jumbo error put runners on first and second with one out, senior SS Will Shackelford turned Tufts' first DP of the day with the put-out at second before firing over to first to end the threat.
Into the fifth, Tufts junior DH Kyle Cortese tripled off the fence in right-center and scored on an rbi single up middle by freshman 1B Peter DeMaria making 3-0. Knight then singled to left and Frickman walked, but Tufts again left them loaded.
The Lions struck for four hits and two runs in the bottom of the fifth to pull to within 3-2. An infield single by Winters and single to center by junior 1B Zachary Koroneos got them started. After a nice play by Frickman catching a foul ball for the first out, an rbi single by senior 3B Jackson Struve put Harrisburg on the board. Following an infield single by Torres, a second run scored when Tufts couldn't get the out in the middle on a fielder's choice. However, they turned a 5-4-3 double play to limit the Lions' inning.
Santos-Ocampo's two-out home run in the sixth got a run back, putting Tufts in front 4-2. The Jumbos turned their third double play when junior DH Travis Van Houten walked to lead off the sixth, but was caught off first on a pop up caught by Varinos. A single by Winters and a wild pitch followed, but Knight ranged over and caught a foul pop by Koroneos to end the frame.
After turning their fourth double play, another 5-4-3 in the seventh, the Jumbos scored four times in the eighth to build an 8-2 advanage. Varinos singled and a bunt by junior CF Justin Mills was bobbled for an error. When Santos-Ocampo followed with another bunt, no one covered first for Harrisburg and the throw sailed into right field scoring Varinos. A balk then scored Mills, then a single by DeMaria and a bases-loaded walk from Shackelford scored two more runs.
After Hall walked and hit a batter to start the bottom of the eighth, the Jumbos went to junior reliever Spencer Langdon. Another Tufts error on a fielder's choice play led to Harrisburg's third run, but two fly-ball outs finished the frame.
Tufts turned it into a rout with five more in the ninth after two were out. Santos-Ocampo singled and scored on a double by DeMaria. Singles by sophomore Brandon Bay, Knight and Varinos (two rbis) help give Tufts six hits in the inning and a 13-3 lead.
The Lions finished with two runs on three hits and a Tufts error in the ninth. Aug was hit by a pitch and scored on a wild pitch. Torres had an rbi single scoring Matt Parks, who had an earlier infield single.
Tufts' Varinos finished 4 for 7 and DeMaria was 4 for 6 with three rbis and two runs. Santos-Ocampo went 3 for 6 with three runs, Frickman was 2 for 4 with two runs and two rbis, and Knight had a 2 for 5 game with two runs and an rbi.
Hall improved to 8-0 with the win. In three NCAA career starts, he's allowed 18 hits and four runs (1.44 era) in 25 innings.
Van Houten started and took the loss for Harrisburg, going 5.2 innings allowing 10 hits and four runs (three earned).
The Jumbos improved to 11-14 in their eighth NCAA Tournament appearance. The Lions, who earned their second NCAA berth, dropped to an 0-3 NCAA record.