Baseball wins two over Tufts
Early-week games brought trouble for Colby baseball this past week, as the Mules fell in games to the University of Maine at Orono, the University of Southern Maine (USM) and Tufts University. Colby turned it around on Saturday, however, with a pair of huge wins against Tufts that helped reboot their season.
Tuesday, April 10 saw the Mules head north to Orono for an out-of-conference matchup with the Division-I Black Bears. Colby starter Connor Sullivan ’12 pitched six strong innings for the Mules, allowing four earned runs, walking one and striking out one. Luke Geoghegan ’14, Abhi Chandel ’12 and Brady Hesslein ’13 finished off the game for the Mules, combining to allow a run over two innings. The Black Bear pitching staff limited Colby to just one run on six singles as Maine emerged on top, 5-1.
Colby returned home on Wednesday, April 11 to face USM, with Mark Collins ’12 taking the hill for the Mules. Collins was liberal in allowing baserunners, giving up 10 (four hits, six walks) in 4.2 innings. He escaped several jams, however, and only allowed one earned run before giving way to Scott Goldberg ’15, who also gave up one run in 3.1 innings.
The Mule offense, buoyed by first-year standout Jason Buco’s two-run homer, kept pace with the Huskies through nine innings of play, and the two teams entered extra innings tied at five runs apiece. Mark Nelson ’13, the team ERA leader, had pitched 1.2 strong innings entering the 10th, but gave up a three-run home run to Maine outfielder David Ricker in the top of the inning. The Mules could not recover, eventually losing 8-5.
Colby travelled to Boston, Mass. on Friday, April 13 for a three-game set against the Tufts Jumbos, a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) rival. Nate Sugarbaker ’13 started Friday evening’s contest, giving up ten runs in 4.1 innings. Seven of those runs were unearned, however, coming as a result of Colby defensive miscues. The offense only produced four runs, and the Mules fell to the Jumbos 14-4.
After a week of errors and lackluster offense, Saturday brought a doubleheader to remember for Colby. Hesslein and Buco were the headliners in the noon fixture, dominating Tufts hitters and pitchers, respectively. Hesslein tossed a gem of a game, going seven innings and allowing just four hits and two runs and walking zero batters. Leadoff hitter Buco scored two runs with four hits, including another home run. Collins also homered for the Mules, who took home the 5-2 victory. Colin Cummings ’14 started game two of the doubleheader and was given a quick hook after allowing four runs on five hits in 1.1 innings.
However, his replacement, Sullivan, was brilliant. The senior went 7.2 innings, shutting out the Jumbos by allowing just four hits and one walk to go along with two strikeouts. An outpouring of Colby offense in the first two innings backed up his performance—the Mules produced four runs in the first and six in the second, and by the end of the game, every Colby starter had at least one hit. After Sullivan mowed through 23 outs with little issue, the Mules came away with the 10-4 victory and a sweep of the doubleheader.
Most remarkable about the victory, however, was the history of the matchup. Colby had lost to Tufts 30 out of 31 times before Saturday’s games as they attempted to reverse the one-sidedness of the rivalry. The wins brought Colby’s NESCAC record to 2-4 and their overall record to 11-12.
The Mules will play the University of Maine at Farmington on Wednesday, April 20 at home. Colby then opens a three-game set against Bowdoin College at home on Friday, April 20 before traveling to Brunswick for a doubleheader on Saturday, April 21.