Nicholson rallies Brandeis past Salve Regina, 7-6

WALTHAM, Mass. - Brandeis University sophomore Pat Nicholson (E. Walpole, Mass./Walpole) had a productive ninth inning, recording a strikeout to end the top of the frame and earning himself the win with a game-winning single in the bottom of the inning as the Brandeis baseball team rallied to defeat visiting Salve Regina University, 7-6, on Stein Diamond.

Brandeis (8-9) fell behind, 5-2, after four innings, but rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth on a two-out pinch single by sophomore Eric Rosenberg (Oakland, N.J./Indian Hills). It was Rosenberg's second-straight game with an RBI off the bench.

Salve (4-12) scored without a hit against three Judge pitchers to reclaim the lead in the top of the ninth. The Seahawks had runners on the corners with two outs thanks to a pair of walks issued by junior starter Kyle Ritchie (Brewster, Mass./Nauset Regional) and senior James Collins (So. Boston, Mass./BB&N), the latter of which included a steal of third by pinch runner Gabriel Constantino (Lincoln, R.I./LaSalle Acad.) on ball four. Brandeis coach Pete Varney then moved Nicholson to the mound from first base. He induced a grounder to shortstop, but the ball was booted, allowing Constantino to score and SRU to take a 6-5 lead. Nicholson then got the final out with a strikeout, setting up the Judges' dramatic rally.

Salve Regina rookie Charles Kwolek (Greenville, R.I./Smithfield) got the first two outs of the  ninth on a come-backer to the mound and a pop-out to first base that was called when the Brandeis batter interfered with the defenders. Kwolek then issued a walk to Judge rookie 3B Jon Chu (Hollis Hills, N.Y./Bronx Science), who was lifted for a pinch runner, classmate Zach Malis (Merrick, N.Y./Bellmore JFK).

Malis advanced to third on two wild pitches and scored the tying run on a hard-hit ball through the left side by junior 1B Drake Livada (Cape Elizabeth, Maine/Cape Elizabeth). After another wild pitch and a walk put runners on first and second, SRU coach Steve Cirella summoned rookie Lawrence Liggett (Manasquan, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) to face Nicholson, but the Judge sophomore won the battle with a hard-hit ball to left field.

Brandeis opened the scoring in the contest with a lead-off home run by senior Mike Alfego (Shrewsbury, Mass./St. Johns), but the Seahawks answered with the next five runs, two each in the second and third and one in the fourth. Big hits for the visitors included RBI singles from rookie Jesse Outhouse (Croton Falls, N.Y./Trinity Pawling), junior DH Riley Diaz (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep), junior 3B Tom Glynn (Woodbridge, Conn./Notre Dame) and sophomore SS Alexander Melcher (Poughkeepsie, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes). Senior CF Justin Collett (So. Portland, Maine/So. Portland) had Salve's only extra-base hit in that stretch, a triple.

SRU rookie starter Nick Politelli (Warwick, R.I./Toll Gate) kept the hosts hitless after Alfego's home run until the fourth inning. The Judges climbed back in the game thanks to a sacrifice fly by rookie C Zach Wooley (Argyle, Texas/Jesuit College Prep) following a Chu double, while a bases-loaded walk and a Chu RBI single in the fifth cut the lead to 5-4, setting the stage for the late-inning fireworks.

Brandeis had two multiple hitters in Chu, who was 3-4 with a double and an RBI, and Livada, who finished 2-5 with an RBI and a runs scored. Alfego's homer was the only other extra-base hit for the Judges. Ritchie earned a no-decision despite eight strong innings. He allowed eight hits and six runs (three earned), striking out five, walking two and hitting one batter. Nicholson earned the win in relief to improve to 3-1.

Melcher was Salve Regina's only multiple hitter, going 2-5 with an RBI and run scored. Politelli tossed 5.1 innings of five-hit ball, but he also walked five and hit one while allowing four earned runs. He fanned five. Kwolek, who walked two and threw three wild pitches in two-third of an inning to allow two earned runs, fell to 0-2 with the loss.

Brandeis is next in action Saturday at noon against Springfield College, while Salve Regina travels to Curry College in a Commonwealth Coast Conference game tomorrow at 2 p.m.

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