SANFORD, Fla. – The Brandeis baseball team wrapped up the 2010 University Athletic Association championships at Historic Sanford Baseball Stadium with a 1-4 record. The Judges picked up a 13-11 victory over Washington University for their lone conference win, but were unable to gain any further momentum from the slugfest, dropping their final three games to Case (12-5), Rochester (11-1) and Emory (12-5) before a second scheduled game with WashU was rained out.
In their lone win against Washington University, the Bears got to rookie Mike Swerdloff (Scarsdale, N.Y./Ardsley) early, touching the righty for nine runs on nine hits, two walks and a hit batter in 2.2 innings. WashU scored five in the bottom of the first and four in the third. Fortunately, the Judges offense found their stroke as well, striking for three runs in the top of the second and a season-high six runs in the top of the third, taking a 9-5 lead in the process. The big blows in the second were an RBI single from senior 2B John O'Brion (So. Portland, Maine/So. Portland) and a two-run home run from rookie LF Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole). It was Ferro's first collegiate extra-base hit. In the third, O'Brion struck again with a two-run double and Ferro added and RBI single. Rookie CF Nick Cortese (Guaynabo, P.R./Baldwin School of Puerto Rico) plated the team's fourth run of the frame with a successful sacrifice squeeze, while the final two came home on a throwing error with sophomore DH Jon Chu (Hollis Hills, N.Y./Bronx Science).
The Bears struck for four more against Swerdloff in the bottom of the third before classmate Andrew Weissenberg (Demarest, N.J./Northern Valley Regional) was summoned from the bullpen to strand two runners in the third on a grounder to third. The Judges responded in the fourth when senior 1B Drake Livada (Cape Elizabeth, Maine/Cape Elizabeth) launched his 10th career home run a three-run shot that gave the Judges a 12-9 lead. Weissenberg came back in the fourth and fifth to retired the side, stranding one base runner in each frame. In the sixth, after Ferro drove in his fourth run of the game in the top of the inning, the Bears loaded the bases with one out, but Weissenberg was able to induce a ground ball double play to third to escape any damage.
After a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh, senior Kyle Ritchie (Brewster, Mass./Nauset Regional) gave up a single and a walk to load the bases, but he struck out the side and preserved the four-run lead. The Bears plated two more runs in the eighth, getting back-to-back RBI doubles with none out, and an error put runners on the corners. Ritchie limited the damage with a fly ball to right field and a 6-4-3 double play, and worked around two ninth-inning walks to earn his first career save.
Ferro finished the game with a 3-for-5 performance with four RBI, while O'Brion finished at 4-for-5 with three RBI and four runs scored. Weissenberg earned his first career win with 3.1 innings of four-hit ball, striking out one and walking two.
Unfortunately for the Judges, they were unable to get quite enough offense to overcome the hot bats of their opponents. After the WashU win, the Judges fell to Case Western Reserve, 12-5. Cortese went 3-for-5 out of the leadoff hole with two RBI on a second-inning single that tied the game at 2-2. The Spartans reclaimed the lead in the second on some wildness by rookie Dylan Britton (Poughquag, N.Y./Arlington), who walked one and hit two more in the frame. Brandeis got two back in the top of the third, when Chu led off with a triple and scored on a Tony Deshler (Pepperell, Mass./Lawrence Acad.) single. Deshler stole second and eventually came home on a Ferro single, giving the Judges a 4-3 lead.
More wildness cost the Judges in the fourth, with four more HBPs tying the game, and a two-run single giving the Spartans the lead for good, 6-4. Case also scored in three of their last four trips to the plate to emerge with the 12-5 win. The last Brandeis run came home in the seventh on a Deshler triple followed by an O'Brion sacrifice fly.
After two days of rainouts, Brandeis was unable to shake off the rust in an 11-1 loss to eventual conference champion Rochester on Saturday. The Judges mustered just three hits against the Yellowjackets, including two in the third when senior catcher Artie Posch (Hopedale, Mass./Hopedale) singled to lead off the frame and came home three batters later on a single up the middle by sophomore SS Sean O'Hare (Southampton, Mass./Hampshire Regional), who finished the day going 2-for-3. Unfortunately, the Judges already trailed 10-0 at that point, as UR scored two in the first, six in the second and two more in the third against junior John McGrath (New York, N.Y./Trevor Day) and senior Nick Pollack (Brooklyn, N.Y./Berkeley Carroll School).
In their UAA finale on Sunday, the Judges dropped a 12-5 decision to Emory, their second loss of the tournament to the Eagles. EU got to Brandeis senior Drew Brzozowski (Concord, Mass./Concord-Carlisle) for 10 runs on 12 hits in 4.2 innings despite the righty getting seven of his 14 outs by way of strikeout. Ritchie had his third successful relief appearance of the season striking out six of the 12 batters he faced and allowing three hits in 2.2 innings of work. Offensively, the Judges were paced by Chu and Ferro, who each went 2-for-4 with a run scored, with Ferro adding an RBI double. Junior Zach Wooley (Argyle, Texas/Jesuit College Prep) also had a two-bagger in the pinch, while Posch and senior James Likis (Cambridge, Mass./Cambridge Rindge and Latin) each had two RBI.
For the tournament, Ferro was the Judges' offensive leader, hitting .375 (6-for-16) with three runs scored, six RBI, a double and a home run. Cortese finished at .353 (6-17) with three RBI, while Deshler topped the squad with six runs scored. On the hill, Brzozowski led the league with 11 strikeouts, while Ritchie finished tied for second with 10 Ks.
The Judges return north with a 2-7 record after swings through Texas and Florida. Brandeis opens the New England portion of their schedule on Thursday, March 18, at 3:30 p.m. against Bridgewater State. LiveStats will be available at http://people.brandeis.edu/~aslevin/livestats/xlive.htm
(image courtesy Joe Burns)