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Baseball wraps up UAA tournament play, returns home with win

By Kara Karter

Section: Sports

March 19, 2010

With Opening Day just around the corner, Major League teams are warming up for the upcoming season under the glow of Florida sun. For a few days, the Brandeis baseball team joined their major league idols in the Sunshine State.

While Grapefruit Leaguers were fighting for roster spots, the Judges were fighting for bragging rights. From March 9 to 14, Sanford, an Orlando suburb, played host to the University Athletic Association’s annual tournament. The UAA title went to the Rochester University Yellowjackets, who played their way to a 4-1 record. The Judges flipped the numbers, finishing at 1-4. They most recently claimed a share of the UAA championship (with Emory) in the 2008 season.

After kicking off the session with a disappointing loss to Emory last Tuesday, the Judges rebounded in a positive way, defeating rival Washington University by a 13-11 margin. The Judges then dropped a heartbreaker, relinquishing a 4-3 lead before ultimately falling 12-5 to the Case Western Reserve Spartans.

After a pair of rainouts, the Judges returned to the diamond last Saturday. Their opponent, high powered Rochester. Immediately after losing their only game of the tournament (a 16-14 slugfest to Wash U.), the Yellowjackets poured on the offense in a  seven inning affair. Rochester got on the board right away, totaling two runs on a couple of run-scoring singles in the top of the first. Unable to escape a bases-loaded jam in the second, the Judges saw Rochester put up six more scores, including a two-run homer from Yellowjacket catcher Casey Storme ’12. Brandeis responded with its lone tally, an RBI single from shortstop Sean O’Hare ’12 in the bottom of the third. Thereafter, Rochester pitcher Nate Kowal ’13 shut the door. He allowed only one more base runner on route to a complete game three-hitter and an 11-1 win.

The following day, Brandeis would have a chance to avenge its earlier loss to Emory. Pitcher Drew Brzozowski ’10 looked solid in the top of the first, striking out the side. The Judges again were victimized by the longball. A two-run-blast from Dan Molnar ’10 put Emory up a pair in the second. It was a lead the Eagles would never relinquish.  Brandeis would get on the board in the top of the fourth. After Tony Deshler ’11 picked up a one-out single, Chris Ferro ’13 drove a pitch to center, scoring the junior third baseman. Ferro would come home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Artie Posch ’10.

Emory reclaimed the two runs in the bottom of the frame. They would go on to score six more times in the next two innings, as the Eagles soared to a 12-5 victory. Jonathan Reilly ’12 and Kevin O’Connor ’12 joined Molnar in the home run club, launching solo and two-run shots respectively.

Posch would pick up one more RBI with a single down the line in the top of the sixth. Senior James Likis drove in a pair of his own, smacking a pinch-hit single to center in the Brandeis seventh. Zach Wooley ’11 also took advantage of a spot plate appearance, doubling to lead off the ninth in his one at-bat.  Another bright spot for the Judges was the play of pitcher Kyle Ritchie ’10. Coming on in relief in the sixth inning, Ritchie struck out six of the twelve hitters he faced in 2.2 scoreless innings of work.

Over their five games, Ferro piloted the Judges with a .375 (6-for-16) average and 6 RBIs while Nick Cortese ’13 finished the tournament hitting .353 (6-17) with three runs batted in. Brzozowski led all UAA pitchers with 11 strikeouts, while Ritchie whiffed 10 of his own.

The Judges returned home on Thursday, March 18 to take on the Bridgewater State Bears (5-2). Though they ultimately arrived at a 10-9 victory, if the Judges were jetlagged at the start, it showed. Homers from Ian Williams ’11 and Tom Couet ’10 helped Bridgewater State jump out to an early 4-0 advantage. The lead would be erased just as quickly. A sacrifice fly and RBI fielder’s choice cut the lead in half before Ferro delivered a bomb of his own, evening the score at 4-all.

The teams traded three-spots in the fifth before Ferro–coming up big in another key situation–slapped a sixth inning single to second to give Brandeis an 8-7 edge.

Despite finding himself in a jam in each of the subsequent innings, reliever Brzozowski was able to escape without damage by way of the strikeout. With the bases loaded in the seventh, the senior pitcher fanned Couet; with two on in the eighth, he punched out the Bears’ Matt Greenberg ’10. Brzozowski could only escape trouble for so long. With the Judges up 9-7 and two outs away from victory, the Concord, Mass. native again showed his susceptibility to the long ball, allowing a game-tying home-run to Bridgewater rookie Tyler Dennis ’13.

Luckily for Brandeis and Brzozowski, the Judges would walk-off to a win. After being hit-by-a-pitch, stealing a base, and advancing to third on an error, right-fielder Zach Malis ’12 scored the winner on a Deshler groundout.

With the 10-9 win, the Judges now sit at 3-7 overall (1-4 in conference play). They travel to Salem State on Monday to take on the 3-3 Vikings at 3:00 P.M.

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