McGrath moves to 7-0 as Judges top Suffolk, 8-6

John McGrath '11 (photo by Joe Burns)
John McGrath '11 (photo by Joe Burns)

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Brandeis University senior righty John McGrath (New York, N.Y./Trevor Day School) went six strong innings to improve to 7-0 on the season today as the Judges defeated Suffolk University, 8-6, on a cool and drizzling day on Stein Diamond. Brandeis, winners of six of their last eight, improves to 21-13 on the season, while Suffolk falls to 17-17.

McGrath kept Suffolk scoreless over his first five innings of work thanks to a combination of efficiency and terrific defense. The Judges turned a 5-4-3 in the first inning to get around two Ram hits. In the second and third frames, McGrath threw a total of eight pitches, including three in the third.

In the third, McGrath hit the leadoff batter with his first pitch. The second was driven to the fence in center field by Suffolk senior Nick Travelyn (Bedford, N.H./Manchester West), but Brandeis senior Tony Deshler (Pepperell, Mass./Lawrence Acad.) leapt at the wall to make the catch and fired a strike to his cutoff man, doubling the runner off first. McGrath got a flyout to right to end the inning. Deshler made another fine diving catch to help get out of the fourth inning unscathed.

Meanwhile, Brandeis plated three unearned runs in the bottom of fourth on just one hit, and three more in the fifth on two hits, taking advantage of two SU errors and five walks over that stretch. Rookie 3B Brian Ing (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) unloaded the bases with a double in the fourth to give the Judges a 3-0 lead, and drove in one more in the fifth on a bases-loaded walk. Deshler scored a run in the fifth with a dash home from third on a pop to second by sophomore Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole), while sophomore catcher Kenny Destremps (Mashpee, Mass./Mashpee) also knocked in a run as the Judges took a 6-0 lead into the sixth.

The Rams finally got to McGrath in the sixth, stringing together four straight hits to open the inning. The Rams got a run-scoring single by senior Andrew Babb (Ashland, Mass./Ashland) to open the scoring. An RBI double by senior catcher Mark Annese (Winchester, Mass./Winchester) added another run, as did a throwing error by Brandeis on the play. Another error on an infield grounder plated Annese and cut the lead to 6-4, but McGrath struck out the last two hitters of the inning, the last two he would face, to extinguish the threat.

Brandeis added two key insurances in the sixth and eight innings. In the sixth, they scored their only earned run of the game on a Ferro double with two outs that plated sophomore LF Nick Cortese (Guaynabo, P.R./Baldwin School of Puerto Rico). In the eighth, senior DH Pat Nicholson (E. Walpole, Mass./Walpole) laid down a squeeze bunt that brought home Deshler, who had reached on an error.

Brandeis needed those runs after Suffolk got to Nicholson in the ninth. He had come in to relieve McGrath to start the seventh. In that inning, two runners got into scoring position, but the Judges escaped after a strikeout and an unusual caught-stealing. When a wild pitch bounced high in front of the plate, Nicholson caught it and tagged out the runner charging from home. In the ninth, however, he was not as lucky, as sophomore 2B Chris Stanley (Orange County, Calif./El Dorado) hit a deep two-run home run to left-center field, his first of the season. That made the game 8-6, but Nicholson held on to get the last two outs and close out the game.

McGrath became the 10th Division III pitcher to improve to 7-0 this season by scattering eight hits over his six innings of work. He struck out one and hit a batter but did not walk any. He threw 69 pitches, 49 for strikes. Nicholson earned his fourth save of the season with three innings of four-hit ball, fanning three with one HBP.

Offensively, Brandeis scored their eight runs on just five hits, but they drew eight walks and took advantage of three costly Suffolk errors. Ing finished with a career-high four RBI and a double, while Ferro plated two and also had a two-bagger. Deshler, Cortese and senior 1B Eric Rosenberg (Oakland, N.J./Indian Valley) each scored two runs.

For Suffolk, rookie Jonathan Richard (No. Reading, Mass./Austin Prep) suffered the loss, giving up six runs, all unearned, in 4.2 innings of work. He walked five and struck out two, but allowed just two hits. The Rams had three multiple hitters, with rookie 3B Jake Cintolo (Wrentham, Mass./King Phillip) going 3-for-5 with a run scored, while rookie SS Devan Jones (Roslindale, Mass./Catholic Memorial) and Babb were each 2-for-5 with a run scored. Stanley's home run came in his only at-bat after entering as a defensive replacement.

Brandeis is right back in action tomorrow at 3 p.m. against Endicott College, coached by Bryan Haley '99, while Suffolk is off for more than a week before taking on Wheaton College on May 7 at 1 p.m.

- 30 -