Nine-run inning not enough as Judges fall to Wheaton, 12-9

WALTHAM, Mass. - The visiting Wheaton College baseball team rallied with four runs in the eighth inning, overcoming host Brandeis's nine-run fourth as the Lyons defeated the Judges, 12-9, under the lights on Stein Diamond.

      Wheaton (30-11) opened the scoring quickly, two batters into the game. Rookie RF Hal Landers (Salem, N.H./Salem) led off the game with a single up the middle. He scored all the way from first on a double to the wall in left-center field by senior SS Nick Pecora (Highland Park, N.J./Immaculata).

      After leaving the bases loaded in the second, the Lyons looked to blow the game open with four more runs in the third. The first five hitters of the inning reached base, including two on errors. The big blow in the frame was a two-run double by rookie 1B Dan Demeo (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury).

      Brandeis (16-23), which had just two base-runners against Wheaton starter Nick Kostaras (No. Attleboro, Mass./No. Attleboro) in the first three innings solved the junior righty in the fourth. The first six Judge batters reached. Rookie LF Jon Chu (Hollis Hills, N.Y./Bronx Science) scored on a wild pitch to open the scoring, while sophomore Eric Rosenberg (Oakland, N.J/Indian Hills) improved to 5-for-9 as a pinch hitter with a two-run, bases-loaded double that cut the lead to 5-3. Senior RF Mike Alfego (Shrewsbury, Mass./St. Johns) followed with a bloop double to left, trimming the margin to one, 5-4.

      Kostaras retired the next two Brandeis hitters, but loaded the bases with a walk. That brought up Chu for the second time in the inning, and he belted Brandeis's first grand slam of the season to left-center field, giving Brandeis an 8-5 lead. It was Chu's second homer of the season. Junior 1B Drake Livada (Cape Elizabeth, Maine/Cape Elizabeth) followed with a mammoth home run blast to left field, his fourth of the season, tying him for the team lead. That capped the nine-run frame, Brandeis's  biggest of the season.

      Wheaton would not go away, getting one run back against Judge senior James Collins (So. Boston, Mass./BB&N) in the next half-inning on a Brandeis error at third base. A line-drive double play kept the Judges out of more trouble. The Lyons cut their deficit to one in the seventh on a long home run to centerfield by rookie 3B Dan Haugh (Andover, Mass./St. Johns).

      After Collins came out of the game to start the eighth inning, Wheaton attacked the Brandeis bullpen. They loaded the bases with one out against sophomore Nick Pollack (Brooklyn, N.Y./Berkeley Carroll School), and sophomore 1B Sean Munley (Trenton, N.J./Hun School) unloaded them with a three-run double to right-center field. Munley came home on Haugh's second extra-base hit of the game, another double to right-center. Rookie lefty Alex Tynan (Barnegat, N.J./Barnegat) came on to get the last out of the inning. He also wriggled out of trouble in the ninth, loading the bases with none out in the ninth, but induced a pop-up and another line-drive double play.

      Meanwhile, the Wheaton pen held Brandeis at bay. The trio of junior Jon Shepard (Salisbury, Mass./Triton Reg.), senior Jared Barnes (No. Attleboro, Mass./Bishop Feehan) and senior Josh Simmons (Cranston, R.I./Cranston West) allowed base-runners in every inning, but held the Judges off the board for the final 5.1 innings. Shepard earned the win with 3.1 innings of four-hit relief, striking out two, while Simmons struck out the side with two on in the ninth for his ninth save.

      For Brandeis, the offensive stars were Chu, who finished 2-5 with four RBI and two runs scored, while Livada, Alfego, junior catcher Artie Posch (Hopedale, Mass./Hopedale) and rookie SS Julian Cavin (Brooklyn, N.Y./Beacon School) all had two hits as well. Collins went seven innings, giving up eight runs (five earned). He allowed nine hits, walked four and struck out four. Pollack suffered the loss, falling to 2-2 on the season.

Haugh and Munley were the big bats for Wheaton, combining to go 6-for-10 with six RBI and five runs scored. Landers and sophomore 2B Eric Laliberte (Nashua, N.H./Bishop Guertin) also had two hits.

Brandeis rounds out their season with a doubleheader tomorrow at noon against Suffolk, while Wheaton travels to Division I Bryant University tomorrow at 1 p.m.

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