With Trinity secure in first place and Bates and Colby trailing behind, Head Coach Mike Connolly knew Bowdoin's three games against Tufts would be incredibly important before the first pitch was even thrown. Unfortunately for the Polar Bears, the baseball team would go on to drop the series 2-1, significantly hurting its chances of making the playoffs.
In the first game, held at home on Friday evening, Tufts held a 4-2 advantage heading into the seventh inning, but the Bears would not be stopped.
Rallying back, Kevin Zikaras '10 hit a clutch double in the bottom of the inning to highlight a three-run inning. The Bears would finish the game with a 6-4 win.
"Carter [Butland] '10 pitched very well, we played very good defense that day, and we had big hits down the stretch," Connolly said. "It made for a classic back and forth college baseball game."
Butland gave up four earned runs over seven innings, and Pat Driscoll '08 came in to pitch a scoreless eighth and ninth.
"Our first game showed that we had some resilience inside of us," Adam Marquit '11 said.
On Saturday morning, the rollercoaster-ride series would continue. Tufts jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but the Bears recovered once again.
The team mounted a slow comeback, and scored three runs in the bottom of the last inning to tie the game and send it to extra innings.
Tufts would score two runs in the top of the eighth inning off of Eric Chenelle '10 and Steve Hall '10 to make the score 13-11, but again Bowdoin would not give up.
After a number of hits and errors, catcher Reid Auger came to the plate with a runner on second and two outs.
Auger made good contact and for a moment it seemed the game would be tied, but to no avail, as the liner found the left fielder's glove and in a flash the game was over for Bowdoin.
"We were one swing away from winning the game a couple of times," Connolly said.
The third game, shortened to seven innings because the first game of the doubleheader went to extra innings, was not indicative of the first two in the series.
Tufts hit Joe Pace '10 hard right from the beginning. Pace lasted only three innings after giving up seven runs, although only two were earned as the team made three errors over the course of the game.
Bowdoin was unable to mount much of an offensive and the game finished with a final score of 9-2.
Simon Fischweicher '11 said he felt the first game of the doubleheader had an effect on the team for the rest of the day.
"It really killed us that we didn't win our first game Saturday," he said.
Connolly, however, was quick to dismiss the idea that the team had a negative attitude from the first game.
"We just didn't play good defense all week long. We only fielded well once, and it's no coincidence that is the only game we won," he said.
On Tuesday the Polar Bears played a non-conference game against University of Southern Maine.
Again, Connolly said he felt the team hurt itself by not playing well in the field, and the Bears fell to the Huskies 12-1.
With Trinity having essentially secured one playoff spot in the NESCAC East, the Polar Bears need help in order to overtake Tufts and win the second spot.
Assuming the Bears can sweep their three-game series against Bates and then win their last game against Colby, they would need Trinity to sweep Tufts and then have Colby win at least one game against the Jumbos in order to make the playoffs.
"It's unlikely, but it's still there," Connolly said.
However, both Connolly and Fischweicher aren't thinking about playoff possibilities just yet.
"Even though these are not conference games, these next five games could really be a turning point in our season. We're at .500 now and these are five games we could definitely win," Fischweicher said.
Connolly said he sees the games as an opportunity to turn things around, particularly on defense, before the NESCAC games resume.
"Until we fix it ourselves things are very difficult," he said.