CORTLAND, N.Y. – After losing their winner's bracket game 10-5 against host Cortland State earlier in the day, the Tufts University baseball team stayed alive at the NCAA Regional with a 7-4 victory over Penn State Harrisburg on Saturday afternoon.
The Jumbos (31-10) move into the championship round tomorrow where they will need to defeat Cortland twice. The first game is scheduled for 10 am with an if-necessary Game 7 to follow.
In the elimination game against Harrisburg (33-15-1) on Saturday, Tufts scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to break a 1-1 tie. Senior LF Casey Santos-Ocampo walked and went to third on a single by freshman 1B Peter DeMaria. After sophomore DH Kyle Cortese was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Santos-Ocampo scored on a wild pitch. DeMaria then came home on a sacrifice line-out by junior 3B JP Knight giving Tufts a 3-1 lead.
Jumbo junior starter Brent Greeley allowed just one run and two hits through his first six innings of work. He got out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth with a foul out and a ground ball to short.
Tufts then added a pair of runs in the sixth to lead 5-1. After junior CF Justin Mills reached on an error, took second on a passed ball and was sacrificed to third, he scored on an infield hit by senior SS Will Shackelford. Senior 2B Elias Varinos was hit by a pitch and DeMaria delivered an rbi single.
The Lions would close the gap to 5-4 with three in the seventh. A Tufts error and a double down the right field line by sophomore CF Chase Smith put runners on second and third. Junior LF Bret Williams then singled up the middle scoring both runs. A wild pitch by reliever Steven Landry and a ground ball put Williams on third and he scored when sophomore RF Casey Winters singled to left-center.
The Jumbos answered immediately with two in the bottom of the seventh to open some breathing room as senior catcher Eric Schnepf homered to left-center scoring sophomore RF Brandon Bay, who had led off with a single. It was Schnepf's first home run since freshman season.
After a Tufts error started the Harrisburg eighth, freshman reliever Michael Volgende retired the next three batters to keep it a 7-4 Tufts lead. He then finished the game for his second save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
The teams had traded runs early with Tufts getting an rbi single from DeMaria scoring Shackelford, who had led off with a single, in the third. Harrisburg scored in the fourth when Smith walked, took third on a failed pick-off attempt and scored on a ground ball to the right side by Williams.
DeMaria went 3 for 5 with two rbis and a run while Shackelford finished 3 for 4 with two runs and an rbi. Schnepf was 2 for 3 with two rbis and a run. Greeley got the win (4-2) going 6.1 innings allowing five hits and just one earned run. Volgende pitched 2.1 innings of no-hit, no-run relief.
Junior 3B Travis Van Houten and Winters both had two hits for the Lions, while Smith scored twice and Williams finished with three rbis. Sophomore Zach Gettys (5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER) was the losing pitcher.
In the winner's bracket game against Cortland, who was playing as the visiting team, junior CF Scott Giordano led off the game with a home run and the Red Dragons (33-11-1) built a 10-0 lead through five innings.
Also in the first junior LF Colin BeVard walked, was sacrificed to second and scored on a two-out single to left by senior SS Dan Schweitzer making it 2-0 Cortland. Tufts (30-10) left the bases loaded in the bottom of the first after a single by Mills and a double by Santos-Ocampo.
In the second BeVard had an rbi single to right scoring junior DH Paul Franzese who had reached by error. Tufts then had the first two runners on with singles by Knight and senior catcher Harrison Frickman, but could not score in the second after the Red Dragons turned a 6-4-3 double play.
Cortland increased the margin to 7-0 by scoring four times in the third. Junior 3B Wyatt Myers led off with a double and Schweitzer had his second rbi single of the game. After a single by freshman RF Mat Bruno, both he and Schweitzer scored on back-to-back Jumbo errors. Giordano then singled home another run for the Red Dragons.
Giordano and BeVard stayed hot as Cortland scored three times in the fifth. After singles by Franzese and senior 2B Marcos Perivolaris, Giordano singled to score Franzese and BeVard tripled to right-center scoring the other two runners for a 10-0 margin.
Red Dragons junior starter Zach Durant had retired eight in a row before Jumbo Varinos walked with two outs in the fifth. Mills followed with an infeild single, but Durant got a foul fly ball out to keep Tufts scoreless.
Freshman reliever Brendan McFall entered for Tufts in the sixth and would shut out Cortland. He allowed just two hits and no runs with five strikeouts in his four innings.
The Jumbos would break through for two runs in the bottom of the sixth after loading the bases when Cortese was hit by a pitch, and DeMaria and Knight both walked. Frickman had an rbi single and then Shackelford hit a sac fly making it 10-2. With the bases loaded again later in the inning, senior Isiah Hudson relieved Durant and got a strikeout to end the frame.
Santos-Ocampo hit his second home run in as many games and seventh of the season, scoring three in the bottom of the ninth for the 10-5 final. Varinos (hit by pitch) and freshman pinch-hitter Miles Reid (walk) scored in front of him.
Giordano finished the game 4 for 6 with three rbis and two runs for Cortland. BeVard was 2 for 5 with three rbis and a run and Schweitzer went 3 for 4 with two rbis and a run. Franzese scored twice. Durant got the win (7-3) while Hudson and juniors Dan Hobbs and Steven Salisbury pitched scoreless relief.
Mills finished 2 for 4 for Tufts while Santos-Ocampo was 2 for 5 and Frickman 2 for 3. Freshman pitcher Aidan Tucker (5 IP, 11 H, 6 ER) suffered his first loss of the year.