WALTHAM, Mass. – On a cold, rainy and windswept Stein Diamond, the Brandeis University baseball team produced an improbable comeback over visiting Bowdoin College, falling behind by seven runs in the top of the eighth inning, only to score nine in the bottom of the frame for a 17-15 victory. The win improves the Judges to 11-21 on the season, while the Polar Bears, ranked seventh in the region, fall to 21-11.
The contest featured the teams batting around in three different innings, with Brandeis putting up a five spot in the bottom of the third and Bowdoin scoring six in the top of the eighth before the Judges had their decisive nine-run frame in which 12 batters stepped to the plate.
The Polar Bears also had a four-run sixth inning thanks to two of their three extra-base hits on the day, a pair of two-run home runs from senior SS Reid Auger (Billerica, Mass./St. John's Prep) and junior 3B Brett Gorman (Bedford, N.Y./Fox Lane). The first blast turned a 6-5 Bowdoin deficit into a 7-6 lead, while the second gave them some breathing room at 9-6.
It looked as if the visitors would need the protection after Brandeis scored two in the seventh. One of two Artie Posch (Hopedale, Mass./Hopedale) sacrifice flies on the day got one run back, while a pinch single up the middle by senior John O'Brion (Portland, Maine/Portland) cut the Brandeis deficit back to one, 9-8.
Bowdoin looked as if it was ready to pull away in the top of the eighth, when the first six hitters reached base on five singles – four of which were hit through the hole on the left side – and a walk and all six scored. Sophomore 2B Jordan Edgett (Barrington, R.I./Barrington) drove another single through the hole on the left with one away to push the lead to 15-8, but Brandeis rookie Andrew Weissenberg (Demarest, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) induced a double-play ball to finally get out of the inning.
In the decisive bottom of the eighth, Brandeis junior CF Tony Deshler (Pepperell, Mass./Lawrence Acad.) led off with a double to right-center, his second extra-base hit of the game after homering in the Judges' five-run third. After a walk to sophomore SS Sean O'Hare (Southampton, Mass./Hampshire Regional), classmate 3B Jon Chu (Hollis Hills, N.Y./Bronx H.S. of Science) singled through the left side to score Deshler and start the Brandeis onslaught. Rookie C/LF Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Posch followed with a sac fly to left that put runners on the corners with one away and made the score 15-10.
Senior 1B Drake Livada (Cape Elizabeth, Maine/Cape Elizabeth) followed with a slow grounder to short, and thanks to the wet ball, Ferro was able to beat the throw to second, allowing the Judges' 11th run to score and putting runners on first and second. At that point, Bowdoin head coach Mike Connolly summoned senior Eric Chenelle (Dunstable, Mass./Tyngsboro). Chenelle uncorked a wild pitch that move both runners into scoring position, and O'Brion followed with a grounder to short that was thrown away, allowing both runners to score and cutting the lead to 15-13.
Brandeis senior 2B James Likis (Cambridge, Mass./Cambridge Rindge and Latin) followed by driving a ball to left field. The outfielder had trouble tracking high fly, allowing it to drop in for an error and scoring O'Brion - who'd moved to third on another wild pitch - to make the score 15-14, Bowdoin . Rookie LF Nick Cortese (Guaynabo, P.R./Baldwin School of Puerto Rico) then walked, with a passed ball moving him and Likis into scoring position and a wild pitch scoring Likis to tie the game at 15-15.
After Deshler flew out to right for the second out of the inning, O'Hare grounded to third, but the speedy sophomore hustled down the line, and when the throw was unable to be handled by the first baseman, Cortese came home with what proved to be the winning run. O'Hare went on to steal second and scored on a solid single by Chu, his second of the inning, making the score 17-15. After Bowdoin rookie Drew LoRusso (Medfield, Mass./Noble & Greenough) finally came on to get the last out, the inning featured nine Brandeis runs on just four hits, two Bowdoin errors, two walks, a hit batter, three wild pitches and a passed ball.
The Polar Bears threatened to extend the game in the top of the ninth when the first three batters reached base, but a heads-up play avoided further trouble. After Bowdoin junior Matt Ruane (Belmont, Mass./Belmont) singled to center to start the inning, junior CF Brett Garner (Swampscott, Mass./Swampscott) popped a ball to shallow right field. The rain and wind played havoc with the ball, and it fell in, but Likis immediately picked up the ball and fired to second to just beat Ruane, who had to wait to see if it would be caught. After Gorman doubled to right-center field to put two runners in scoring position, Brandeis sophomore lefty Alex Tynan (Barnegat, N.J./Barnegat), got a pop to second and grounder to first to close out the game with his first career save.
In all, the game lasted three hours and four minutes, featuring 37 hits – 23 by Bowdoin and 14 by Brandeis - four walks, two hit batters and seven wild pitches. Eight of the Polar Bears nine starters had at least two hits, while four Judges had more than one hit.
For Brandeis, Chu led the way by going a career-best 5-for-6 with two doubles, three RBI and four runs scored. Deshler was 3-for-6 with two RBI, two runs scored and his third home run of the season. Weissenberg earned the with one inning of work, improving to 2-1 on the season, while Tynan's inning of work gave him just the Judges' second save of the season.
For Bowdoin, the top hitters were Gorman, who finished 4-for-6 with a game-high five RBI, two runs scored, a home and a double, and Edgett, who was 4-for-5 with three RBI. Chenelle suffered the loss on the hill, falling to 1-1 on the season.
Brandeis is back in action tomorrow at Keene State College at 3:30 p.m., while Bowdoin hosts CBB rival Bates Friday at 3 p.m. to kick off a key three-game NESCAC East series.