Date: Wednesday, May 3, 2000


MEDFORD – With a 5-2 win on Tuesday night at Eastern Connecticut State University, the 18th ranked team in the nation and third-ranked in New England, the 2000 Tufts University baseball team set a new team record with 22 victories. They surpassed the 21 wins accumulated by the 1990 and 1994 teams at Tufts.

Head coach John Casey's Jumbos still have a double-header against Bowdoin remaining on Sunday (May 7). They reached the record mark with the help of a strong start, winning their first six games and eight of 10 overall on their spring trip. Included amongst those victories was 8-2 over defending National Champion North Carolina Wesleyan, 7-6 over Division 2 Pembroke State and 5-1 over then #4 in the nation Virginia Wesleyan. A six-game winning streak early in their New England schedule brought the Jumbos to 14-3, but they lost eight of their next 11 to fall to 17-10. Recently they pulled out of a four-game losing streak to win five of their last six games and stand at 22-11.

As a result, the team is in contention for the New England Small College Athletic Conference's (NESCAC) automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Jumbos, who are 7-3 in league games, should receive an ECAC New England Playoff berth at least.

The Jumbos have received great pitching all season, evident in their 3.10 team earned run average. Senior ace Zack Brown (Melrose, MA/Melrose) leads the staff with a 5-2 record and 1.53 era. Sophomore Steve Lapham (Newburyport, MA/Newburyport) is 3-3 with a 2.53 era and set a new team record with his third shutout of the season versus Babson on Monday (May 1), a 19-0 Tufts win. Senior Mike Saucier (Dracut, MA/Central Catholic) has excelled in his role as a spot starter and relief ace (2-0, three saves, 3.10 era), and needs one more appearance to set a new team record. Freshmen starters Jon Lee (Manhasset Hills, NY/Herricks) and Dave Martin (Arlington, MA/Arlington) have four and three wins, respectively. Senior Nick Svencer (Mystic, CT/Fitch) and freshmen Brian Shapiro (Swampscott, MA/Swampscott) and Chris Lovejoy (Madison, WI/Edgewood) have also provided important outings.

The offense slumped in the middle of the year, but the team is averaging nearly seven runs a game. Brown is the top hitter at .400, followed by junior LF Todd Boutwell (Woburn, MA/Woburn) at .371 with a team-high 31 runs scored. Sophomore C Joe Surprenant (Tewksbury, MA/Tewksbury) has been a steady hitter all season (.340) along with throwing out an amazing 22 of 35 would-be base stealers (62.9 percent). Senior SS Mike Gray (Teaneck, NJ/Teaneck) has also produced an improved offensive season with a .333 average.

Sophomore 1B Tim Ayres (Irvine, CA/Santa Margarita) is hitting .327 with 25 runs batted in. Shapiro, who is the regular at 3B, is hitting .325 and leads the team with four home runs and 35 RBIs (four shy of the single-season record). Freshman CF Evan Zupancic (Lake Oswego, OR/Lakeridge) is coming off a 5 for 5 with seven RBIs game versus Babson on May 1 and is hitting .302 with 27 RBIs overall. Sophomore RF Dan Callahan (Medfield, MA/Medfield) has 15 doubles, one shy of setting a new single-season record, and has scored 30 runs.

Junior 2B Cory Dolich (Alameda, CA/College Prep), freshman 2B John Herbert (Davidsonville, MD/South River), Martin in LF, junior C/1B Nick Scola (Worcester, MA/St. Peter Marian), senior CF Josh Marks (Tucson, AZ/University School), junior 3B Kevin Marotta (Rockfall, CT/Xavier) and senior IF Jon Cole (Sudbury, MA/Lincoln-Sudbury) have made key contributions with their bats and/or gloves.

"Baseball has been played at Tufts every year since 1912, and the first Tufts team played in the 1860s," head coach John Casey said. "Of course, we're playing more games now than we did even 10 years ago, but to stand out within that kind of historical background is special. These guys are fighters. We were down and we've come back. I'm hoping we're going to add to our wins over the next few weeks."