Baseball loses tight contest to Johnson & Wales, 6-5

WALTHAM, Mass. – Sophomore Eric Rapuano (Clinton, Conn.) launched a pinch single to center field in the top of the ninth inning to break a 5-5 deadlock and lead the visiting Johnson and Wales University baseball team past host Brandeis, 6-5, on Stein Diamond today.

Brandeis (10-10) opened the scoring in the third inning when junior CF Chuck Sheehan (Lexington, Mass.) reached on a bunt single – a common thread in the game – stole second and went to third on an error. He came home on senior RF Ben Dashefsky's (Massapequa, N.Y.) single up the middle. Three batters later, Brandeis had the bases loaded with no out and senior LF Jon Winston (Nanuet, N.Y.) was hit by a pitch to give the Judges a 2-0 lead. JWU starter Greg Byron (West Kingston, R.I.) got out of the inning without further damage by inducing a 3-2-3 double play and getting a strike out.

JWU (17-12) answered in the top of the fourth with a two-out RBI single by junior RF Mike Ziman (Bridgeport, Conn.). Senior 2B Alex Hurley (East Hartford, Conn.) came home after leading off with a single.

Brandeis got that run back in the sixth by manufacturing a run. Rookie 3B James Likis (Cambridge, Mass.) singled to second base and stole second. He moved to third on a ground out and came home on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Sheehan.

The Wildcats scored four runs off of Brandeis junior lefty Tyler Robinson (Manotick, Ont.) in the top of the seventh to take their first lead of the game. After loading the bases on a single, an error and a walk, Hurley crushed a double off the top of the left field fence that put the visitors ahead, 4-3. After rookie Kyle Ritchie (Brewster, Mass.) came on to relieve Robinson, Hurley stole third and came home on a wild pitch to give Johnson and Wales a 5-3 lead.

Brandeis evened the contest in the bottom of the eighth off of reliever Bobby Gilbert (Florham Park, N.J.). After Likis and sophomore DH Mike Alfego (Shrewsbury, Mass.) singled, Sheehan laid down another perfect bunt and was safe on an error. Likis scored on the play to cut the lead to 5-4. After rookie Jeff Jordan (Woodbridge, N.J.) came on to relieve, Alfego stole home on a pick-off play, sliding just under the tag. Sheehan moved to second on the play. After he was bunted to third, senior 2B Jeff Bourdon (No. Adams, Mass.) hit a smash to shortstop, and Sheehan was cut down at the plate, despite appearing to beat the tag. A pair of walks to the next two batters loaded the bases, but Jordan fanned rookie pinch hitter Drake Livada (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) to escape further damage.

In the ninth, Johnson and Wales put runners on first and third thanks to bunt singles by sophomore CF Rich Fonseca (Riverside, R.I.) and junior SS Brad Jackson (Setauket, N.Y.), setting up Rapuano's heroics.