Baseball: Loses Tough Weekend Series to Tufts University
Last week was a seesaw affair for Mules baseball, asthe team went 2-3 over a five game stretch. On a high note, Colby has already surpassed its win total (eight) from last year with 15 games remaining on the season. Unfortunately, neither of the two wins was against a conference foe. Over the weekend, the Mules lost another New England Small College Athletic Conference series (NESCAC) to Tufts University and are still winless (9-8, 0-6 NESCAC) in league play.<br /><br /> The week started out strong with back-to-back non-conference victories on April 6 at Husson College and then at home vs. University of Maine-Farmington (UMF) on April 7. Colby continued its trend of offensive brilliance, plating a total of 25 runs over the two games and, at the time, 67 runs in its last five games. Against Husson, the Mules received a game-winning single from senior co-captain Ryan Conlon, scoring Chris Murdock '10 in the top of the ninth. Wil Hartigan '11 closed out the bottom of the frame to lock up an 11-10 win. <br /><br /> The game Wednesday, April 7 against the lowly UMF (0-10) was another lopsided Colby slugfest. The Mules made it six wins in a row behind 14 hits, 14 runs and strong pitching from Connor Sullivan '12 (3 innings, 1 hit). A seven-run second inning was the story of the game, as Colby knocked in seven runs off five hits, a walk and two errors. <br /><br /> Due to inclement weather, the weekend series against Tufts in Massachusetts was moved a day back. The Mules played the first game of the series on Saturday and participated in a double-header on Sunday. The three-game stretch was filled with frustration for the Mules. Colby came very close to winning in two of the games, losing by two or fewer runs in both cases. In the first game Colby lost a lead late in the game, and in the second Colby squandered a terrific pitching performance by Dominick Morrill '11. <br /><br />
"There were plenty of missed opportunities for both Tufts and Colby during the series. That's baseball," Conlon said. "Once you start capitalizing on opportunities, that's when you win the tough games."
The Mules had an 8-4 lead in game one after a six-run fifth inning. Conlon, third baseman Mike Mastrocola '12 and second baseman John LaMantia all had an RBI and scored a run in the frame. Tufts battled back to 8-7, and in the bottom of the eight the Colby bullpen suffered from a meltdown. Mule pitchers hit four Jumbo batters and walked two more. The tying run and winning runs came in on a hit batter and a walk with the bases loaded.
On Saturday, the first game of the double-header featured a complete game, two-run, eight-strikeout performance from Morrill. The Maine-native fireballer has had a fantastic year so far. NESCAC scouts say that Morrill has more confidence in his slider this year, and has been featuring it more consistently. Morrill has an ERA of 2.82 in 22.1 innings with 19 hits allowed and 20 strikeouts. Unfortunately, on Saturday, the two runs Tufts squeaked out of Morrill were enough to result in a loss. They scored just one run in the fifth on a Conlon RBI single and ultimately fell 2-1.
After losing two close contests, Colby might have been pressing a bit in the third. Tufts scored three times in the first inning to assert control and eventually pulled away to win the contest 11-1.Apart from game three, the Mules proved to be strong competition for Tufts. In fact, Colby outhit the Jumbos 16-10 and 9-6 in games one and two.
"We have to realize that we were right there with Tufts. If we play the consistent baseball that we normally do, those tight games will turn into wins," Conlon said.
This weekend Colby will host Bowdoin College (19-5, 2-1 NESCAC) on Friday, April 16 and then will travel to Brunswick, ME for two more games against the Polar Bears on Saturday. Even after a tough series, the Mules move on with renewed vigor.
"We don't fear anybody, no matter the opponent," Conlon said. "We will not change our approach."