NESCAC Tournament
Wesleyan 5    Tufts 4

At Springfield, MA
Saturday, May 14, 2005

Game Box Score

SPRINGFIELD -- The 2005 Tufts University Baseball season came to a crushing halt on Saturday when Wesleyan University scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to earn a 5-4 victory that eliminated the Jumbos from the NESCAC Tournament at Western New England College.

Wesleyan advances to play Trinity College in an elimination game at Amherst College on Saturday at 2:30. Trinity lost 6-0 to Amherst on Saturday. The winner of the Wesleyan-Trinity game will face host Amherst for the conference championship on Sunday. Tufts drops to 23-11 and is likely finished for the year with their chances for an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament all but extinguished by their two losses in the NESCAC Tournament.

Tufts led Wesleyan 4-0 through six innings behind excellent starting pitching from sophomore Derek Rice (Braintree, MA). Rice and Wesleyan's Will Gordon were involved in a pitcher's duel through the first five innings. The Jumbos scored a run early and then added three more in the sixth on three walks, a two-run single by sophomore 3B Kyle Backstrom (Worcester, MA) and a run-scoring single by senior captain Bob Kenny (Milford, MA).

Rice, who had retired 10 in a row and allowed only one hit entering the seventh, gave up the first Cardinal run in the seventh. Jeff Maier led off with a double and moved to third on a fly ball. He was then balked home on a pickoff attempt.

The game unraveled for the Jumbos in the eighth. Rice walked Rob Coughlin and allowed an RBI double by Adam Kopiec. Rice (6 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs) was replaced by sophomore Aaron Narva (Albuquerque, NM). He walked Jesse Leavitt, Dan Poniatowski followed with a but single, then an RBI base hit by Anthony Gray cut the margin to 4-3 Tufts. Still with no outs, junior pitcher Erik Johanson (Wynnewood, PA) came on for the Jumbos and Maier hit a two-run single to center pushing the Cardinals ahead 5-4.

Wesleyan reliever Andre Sternberg retired Tufts 1-2-3 in the ninth and the Cardinals – just 12-23-1 overall - earned a stunning victory that kept them alive in the tournament.

Maier finished 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles, a run scored and two RBIs to lead Wesleyan. Gordon relinquished three earned runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out seven. Sternberg tossed two scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win, improving to 2-4 on the season. Backstrom paced the Tufts bats, going 2 for 4 with a run scored and a pair of RBIs, while Narva suffered his first loss of the season, falling to 2-1.