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Brandeis baseball opens up season with hot start

It had been a while since the Brandeis baseball team played a home game at Stein Diamond. In their return home for the first time in nearly two years, the Judges opened their season strong, going 4-1 in this past week’s games from Friday, April 2 to Wednesday, April 7.

Friday, April 2: Johnson and Wales: 8, Judges: 7

Down 8-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Judges mounted a fierce comeback, but it was not enough as Johnson and Wales held on to spoil the Judges’ opening day.

After senior infielder Isaac Fossas ’21 reached on an error to lead off the bottom half of the eighth, graduate students Victor Oppenheimer (GRAD) and Tommy Sand (GRAD) walked to load the bases with no outs. Head Coach Derek Carlson pinch-hit sophomore Steven Simon ’23, who lined a double into the left-center field gap, clearing the bases, and cutting the deficit to 8-6. Freshman Peter Fullerton ’24, who entered the game as a defensive replacement, singled past the left side of the infield, moving Simon to third. After a pop-up, Fullerton stole second on a pitch in the dirt. A wild pitch made the Wildcats’ lead 8-7. However, the Judges stranded Fullerton at third heading into the top of the ninth.

Senior Mason Newman ’21 pitched a scoreless ninth, despite the Wildcats having a runner on third with no outs. Newman tossed three innings, retiring seven of the last eight hitters he faced.

The Judges went down quietly in the bottom half of the ninth. With one out, Fossas was robbed of extra bases as his deep fly ball was caught after a fantastic diving effort by the Wildcats’ centerfielder. An infield pop-up ended the game.

Though outhit 14-7, the Judges drew eight walks. Seniors Mike Khoury ’21 and Luke Hall ’21 each hit solo home runs. Sophomore Asher Kaplan ’23 took the loss in relief, pitching three innings while striking out five.

Saturday, April 3rd: Game 1: Judges: 9, Johnson and Wales: 1 Final (7)

Graduate student Josh Garber (GRAD) pitched five innings of one-run ball. The Judges got their revenge against the Wildcats, taking the opening game of the double-header.

Up 1-0 in the bottom of the second, the Judges put up five runs, highlighted by Hall and Fossas RBI-singles. Hall, Khoury and Fossas each had two hits. After the Wildcats responded with a run in the top of the third, the Judges added three more runs in the bottom half of the inning, extending the lead to 9-1.

Garber picked up the win, allowing just two hits and striking out four. Junior Cam Roberts ’22 pitched two scoreless innings in relief, allowing just one hit.

Saturday, April 3rd: Game 2: Judges: 10, Johnson and Wales: 0 Final (7)

Graduate student Tim Lopez (GRAD) tossed five scoreless innings and Fossas hit a three-run homer as the Judges swept the double-header against the Wildcats.

The Judges used the big inning once again, scoring four runs in the third. After an RBI-single by Dan Frey ‘21, Fossas belted a homer to the left-center, extending the lead to 5-0. Fossas later had an RBI-double and ended the day with three hits and four runs batted in.

Lopez threw 73 pitches in his season debut, allowing four hits and striking out five. Graduate student Brandon Musto (GRAD) followed in relief with two scoreless innings.

Wednesday, April 7th, Game 1: Judges: 7, Lasell: 2 Final (7)

Greg Tobin (GRAD) tossed six innings of one-run ball and the Judges’ offense took advantage of the Lasers’ defensive miscues in the first-ever matchup between the schools.

Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Oppenheimer was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. A wild pitch scored a run and a single by sophomore Brian King ’23 added another. The Judges added the third and final run of the inning after Simon grounded into a double. The Judges scored again in the third and three more times in the fourth, extending their lead to 7-1.

After a rocky first outing on April 2 against Johnson and Wales, Tobin rebounded by striking out nine and issuing no walks. Junior Gavin Dauer ’22 replaced Tobin in the seventh and allowed an unearned run.

Wednesday, April 7th: Game 2: Judges: 2, Lasell: 0 Final (7)

Kaplan threw a complete-game shutout and King had an RBI-single as the Judges won the nightcap of the double-header.

Simon led off the bottom of the third, reaching on an error. Sophomore Drew Michaud ’23 singled to right, and Simon advanced to third. A balk by Lasell brought in the Judges first run. The following inning, Frey led off with a single. He stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. After Oppenheimer walked, King singled to left field, giving the Judges an insurance run.

Kaplan allowed just three hits on an efficient 83 pitches, retiring the final 10 hitters he faced. No Laser runner advanced past second base. Kaplan struck out five in the game and fielded his position, starting a double play in the second (pitcher to shortstop to first). This was Kaplan’s first career win in a Brandeis jersey from the mound.

For his performance, Kaplan was awarded the University Athletic Association’s baseball pitcher of the week honors. This was his first career award.

The Judges faced Johnson and Wales in a double-header again on Saturday, April 10. Read more about it in next week’s Hoot. You can find more information regarding the Judges’ schedule online at brandeisjudges.com.

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