PEORIA, Ariz. - The Brandeis baseball team opened its season earlier than ever, and the Judges bats were on fire in a pair of wins on their February break trip to Arizona, where they are playing five games at the Peoria Sports Complex, spring training home of the San Diego Padres. The Judges rallied for three runs in the ninth inning to defeat Whitworth University out of Washington, 11-8, in their first game of the season, then outslugged NAIA Hastings College of Nebraska, 19-15, in the nightcap.
Against Whitworth, the top of the line-up was remarkably productive, going 7-for-16 with nine of the squad's 10 RBI. Junior 1B Drake Livada (Cape Elizabeth, Maine/Cape Elizabeth) had a big early blow in the game, with a two-run triple in the first inning, finishing with a team-high three RBI. Seniors Nick Gallagher (Southboro, Mass./St. John's) and Mike Alfego (Shrewsbury, Mass./St. Johns) scored six of the team's 11 runs despite not getting a hit, thanks to two walks, three hit-by-pitches and a Pirate error. The duo scored the game-winning runs in the ninth inning, as both were hit by a pitch to start the inning. They were bunted to second and third by rookie RF Kenny Destremps (Mashpee, Mass./Mashpee) and scored on a single to right field by rookie SS Sean O'Hare (Southampton, Mass./Hampshire Reg.). The men's soccer standout then circled the bases on an error by the Whitworth outfielder for the game's final run. Sophomore Nick Pollack (Brooklyn, N.Y./Berkeley Carroll) earned his first collegiate win by retiring three of the four batters he faced in the eighth inning, while senior James Collins (South Boston, Mass./BB&N) earned the save by pitching the ninth, working around a single and a couple of walks to leave the bases loaded.
Against Hastings, seven of nine starters had at least two hits and one RBI as the Judges exploded for the 19-15 win. Sophomore 2B Tony Deshler (Pepperell, Mass/Lawrence Acad.) was the big bopper for the Judges, going 2-for-6 with a team-high four RBI and the squad's first home run of the season, a three-run shot in the team's five-run fourth inning. O'Hare had a fine performance in the leadoff role again, reaching base in five of his six plate appearances. He was 3-for-4 with two walks, two runs scored, three RBI and a double. Brandeis also got two doubles each from rookies Destremps - who finished with four RBI - and DH Jon Chu (Hollis Hills, N.Y./Bronx Science) - who was 4-for-5 with two runs scored. Sophomore righty Pat Nicholson (E. Walpole, Mass./Walpole) went 5.1 innings for the victory, striking out seven and walking just one. He allowed 13 hits and seven runs (four earned), but was the beneficiary of nine runs of offense. The Judges owned a 19-9 lead headed into the ninth inning before the Broncos struck for six late runs to make the final score closer than the rest of the game,
The Judges face Washington and Lee University in the final round-robin game of the tournament before two play-off games for the title.