GREENSBORO, N.C. – Nationally ranked Tufts University scored four ninth-inning runs to rally past host Guilford College, 11-9, Monday in a nonconference baseball game.
The Jumbos (4-0) are ranked 16th in this week's American Baseball Coaches' Association NCAA Division III and 11th in the latest D3baseball.com/National College Baseball Writers Association rankings.
Tufts took advantage of early control problems by Guilford pitchers to open a 6-1 advantage, but the Quakers battled back with runs in four straight frames, including a three-run sixth that put Guilford ahead, 7-6. Casey Santos-Ocampo's eighth-inning double down the left-field line tied the score at 7-7, but the Quakers answered in the home eighth on a two-run double by Andrew Brann.
Holding a 9-7 lead, Guilford closer Trevor Denton entered for the ninth inning and quickly recorded the first out. The Jumbos loaded the bases and pulled to within 8-7 on a one-out, RBI walk by Nick Falkson. Denton then struck out Hayden Gruber looking and had the Jumbos down to their final strike when Santos-Ocampo hit a long fly ball into right field. Guilford's right-fielder was playing deep and tracked it down, but could not hang onto the ball. The bases cleared and Santos-Ocampo reached third.
Tufts' closer Ian Kenny got two quick outs in the Guilford ninth, but then hit Josh Shepherd. Rocco Wilcox followed with a single through the right side, which brought Denton to the plate. The junior hit a grounder up the middle, which glanced off the mound to shortstop Will Shackelford. His throw just beat Denton's headfirst slide into first base to end the game.
The late heroics made a winner out of Elias Varinos (1-0) in the rookie's first college appearance. He fanned two over two innings. Starter R.J. Hall worked five innings in his season debut and yielded three earned runs. Tom Petry had three of Tufts' 10 hits and scored three runs. Falkson was 2-for-3 with two RBI and Oscar Kutch added two doubles and three runs scored. Tufts had 12 baserunners via walks (10) or hit batsmen (2) and stranded 14 runners.
Wilcox and Stewart Laws paced Guilford's offense with three hits apiece. Denton added two hits and three RBI, including a two-out, run-scoring single in the sixth that gave the Quakers a 7-6 lead. Brody Holloman worked three innings in relief of starter Chase Mitchell and yielded one earned run. Laws threw 3.1 solid innings of relief. He scattered three hits, fanned three and yielded one earned run in the longest stint of his brief career.
Coach Nick Black's '02 Quakers host Roanoke College Wednesday (3/22) at 3:00 p.m. The Maroons were ranked 22nd in the latest D3baseball.com poll.