Hartford, Conn. – Down to its last strike in the ninth inning of game two, J.P. Knight (Boston, Mass.) hit a grand slam over the right field fence to give Tufts University a 9-6 lead which stood as the final to help complete a doubleheader sweep over the Trinity College Bantams on Saturday afternoon at Murren Family Field at DiBenedetto Stadium. The Jumbos, who won game one, 8-2, improve to 23-6 overall and 8-1 in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) East. Trinity falls to 24-7 on the year and 7-4 in divisional play. The two sides complete the three-game series tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.
Trinity jumped ahead with a run in the bottom of the first to take a 1-0 lead. Senior tri-captain 1B Johnny Stamatis (Ridgfield, Conn.) scored classmate SS Ben Reinisch (Troy, N.Y.) on an RBI-groundout with one out.
After a scoreless second, the Jumbos put up a crooked number with three runs in the top of the third to go ahead, 3-1. Will Shackelford (Orleans, Mass.) scored on a ground ball out off the bat of Elias Varinos (Middleton, Mass.). Tufts plated two more on a single to centerfield by Peter DeMaria (Chatham, N.J.) before Trinity junior starter Andrew DeRoche (North Reading, Mass.) got the third out of the inning.
The Bantams got one back the following half inning when junior RF Matt Koperniak (Adams, Mass.) scored on a single from junior LF Brett Stevenson (Southport, Conn.). Koperniak reached on a single with two outs before scoring all the way from first on Stevenson's single that landed between the centerfielder and the leftfielder in no man's land.
Knight crushed a solo home run in the fourth to give the Jumbos a 4-2 advantage before the visitors scored at least once in each inning following to come away with the 8-2 win. Tufts scored via sacrifice flies in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, while Shackelford singled home Knight in the sixth to account for the eight runs. Jumbo starter R.J. Hall (Marietta, Ga.) went the distance to improve to 5-0 on the year. Hall struck out seven and scattered five hits in the complete game victory.
Tufts struck first in game two, scratching across a run in the third on a sacrifice fly from Casey Santos-Ocampo (Naples, Fla.) that scored Shackelford. Trinity responded however, scoring five runs in the home half to open up a 5-1 lead. The Bantams tied things when sophomore 2B Robbie Cronin (Wellesley Hills, Mass.) scored on a bases-loaded walk before senior CF Geoff Stillman (Scituate, Mass.) scored on a ground ball out. Then came a three-run blast onto Broad Street off the bat of junior tri-captain C Alex Rodriguez (South Windsor, Conn.) that put Trinity ahead 5-1.
Trinity added a run in the bottom of the fourth when Koperniak skied a pop up in the infield that somehow managed to fall between every Tuft infielder, allowing Cronin to waltz home with two outs.
The Jumbos made things interesting in the eighth inning, scoring a pair of runs and bringing the tying run to the plate, but senior tri-captain southpaw Erik Mohl (Milton, Mass.) limited the damage to just the two runs.
Tufts saved the dramatics for the ninth inning, scoring six runs, highlighted by Knight's grand slam, to come away with the 9-6 win and complete the sweep. Sheckelford singled to lead things off before the Jumbos put two on with two out. After a walk to load the bases, DeMaria singled to score Shackelford and make it a two-run game. Still with the bases loaded, Brandon Bay (Encinitas, Calif.) came through with an RBI-single to cut the deficit to 6-5, setting up Knight with the bases loaded. Knight found himself down, 2-2, before sending his second home run of the afternoon over the right field wall to give Tufts the lead and eventual victory.
Trinity first-year Jimmy Fahey (Danbury, Conn.) lasted into the sixth inning in game two, earning a no decision after striking out four and allowing just one earned on four hits. Tufts junior Spencer Langdon (Westlake, Texas) earned his fourth save of the season, keeping the Bantams off the scoreboard in the bottom of the ninth. Koperniak finished with three hits in game two while Rodriguez drove in three and Cronin scored twice.