Judges fall to Anna Maria, 8-5, in ECAC quarterfinals

Judges fall to Anna Maria, 8-5, in ECAC quarterfinals

WALTHAM, Mass. –  The seventh-seeded Anna Maria College AMCATs upset second-seeded Brandeis University, 8-5, in the quarterfinals of the ECAC Division III New England baseball tournament today on Stein Diamond. With the win, Anna Maria improves to 25-19 and advances to play sixth-seeded Coast Guard in the semifinals Saturday at Endicott College, while the Judges end their season at 24-19.

After the first three half-innings of the game ended in double plays, Brandeis opened the scoring in the bottom of the second. Senior 1B Eric Rosenberg (Oakland, N.J./Indian Hills) led off the inning with his 17th double of the season, moved to third on a bunt by junior catcher Kenny Destremps (Mashpee, Mass./Mashpee) and scored on sophomore RF Chris Ferro's (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) sacrifice fly.

Anna Maria responded with three runs in the top of the third, taking advantage of two Brandeis errors. With one away, sophomore leadoff hitter, 3B Justin Hyland (Spencer, Mass./David Prouty) singled to center field. After a catcher's interference put senior 2B Andy Fallon (Worcester, Mass./Doherty) on, junior RF Jeff Scafidi (Worcester, Mass./Burncoat) singled to tie the game at 1-1. Up next, sophomore CF Mike Guarnieri (Wallingford, Conn./Sheehan) hit a ball to shortstop that was booted, allowing two more runs to score. Brandeis senior John McGrath (New York, N.Y./Trevor Day) struck out the next two batters to escape further trouble in the frame.

The Judges tied the game in the bottom of the third with two more runs on four straight singles, with Rosenberg plating senior CF Tony Deshler (Pepperell, Mass./Lawrence Acad.) and sophomore LF Nick Cortese (Guaynabo, P.R./Baldwin School of Puerto Rico). Brandeis was unable to scratch out another run against senior Jim McNamara (Worcester, Mass./Worcester Acad.), leaving the game tied at 3-3.

The AMCATs took the lead for good in the fifth with three hits and a walk, all coming with two out. Senior catcher Jeff Kodys (Holden, Mass./Wachusett) broke the tie with a single up the middle, and McNamara helped his own cause with another ball back through the box to give the visitors a 5-3 edge.

Brandeis got one of those runs back in the fifth when Deshler doubled on the first pitch of the inning. After a bunt single by Cortese, McNamara got a strikeout to record the first out. Rosenberg followed by chopping the ball in front of the plate.  McNamara dove to tag a charging Deshler, who avoided the tag to score. Destremps followed with a hard liner to left with a hit-and-run play on, and the AMCATs were able to convert it into a double play and avoid further damage.

AMC added three key insurance runs in the top of the eighth on just one hit. They loaded the bases on a walk, and error and a hit batter against senior reliever Pat Nicholson (E. Walpole, Mass./Walpole). Nicholson got the first out with a K, but Hyland followed with a two-run double to center, and a wild pitch made the score 8-4, Anna Maria.

The Judges got one run back in the eighth against senior Zach Rafferty (Worcester, Mass./Holy Name), who walked two of the first three batters he faced. That set up junior 2B Sean O'Hare (Southampton, Mass./Hampshire Regional) for an RBI single. After Rafferty got a strikeout for the second out, he walked junior Zach Malis (Merrick, N.Y./Bellmore J.F.K.) to load the bases, but got another whiff to leave the bases loaded. Brandeis hit a couple of balls on the nose in the ninth, but couldn't get anyone on base.

Brandeis had four players with multiple hits. Rosenberg led the way with a 2-for-4 performance. He accounted for all five Brandeis runs with three RBI and two runs scored. Deshler went 2-for-5 and crossed the plate twice, while Cortese and O'Hare were each 2-for-4. Cortese had a run scored, while O'Hare drove in one. McGrath suffered his first loss of the season on the hill, falling to 7-1 after going six innings and allowing nine hits and five runs (two earned). He struck out five and walked three.

For Anna Maria, Scafidi had a game-high three hits and scored two runs while driving in one. Hyland went 2-for-4 with two RBI and the AMCATs' only extra-base hit, his double. McNamara also helped his own cause at the plate with two hits, an RBI and a run scored. On the mound, he evened his record at 5-5 with six innings of eight-hit ball. He gave up four runs, all earned, and struck out two and walked one. Junior Dean Diamontopoulos tossed a perfect ninth inning for his second save of the campaign.