March 15, 2012

Baseball rallies for first UAA win, 4-3, over Case

SANFORD, Fla. -- The Brandeis baseball team got a strong pitching performance from junior Mike Swerdloff (Scarsdale, N.Y./Ardsley) and a clutch two-out, two-run double from rookie LF Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./St. Peter-Marian) to defeat Case Western Reserve University, 4-3, on the fourth day of action at the 2012 University Athletic Association (UAA) tournament. The Judges snap a five-game losing streak to improve to 5-8, 1-5 in the UAA, while the Spartans fall to 8-5, 2-3 UAA.

Swerdloff, pitching on two days rest after lasting just two innings in his previous start, scattered eight hits over 8.1 of work. He fanned three and did not issue a walk in evening his record at 1-1 on the season. At one point, he retired 15-straight batters.

Swerdloff retired the first two hitters of the game, but Case responded with back-to-back singles. Spartan 1B Brett Ossola followed with a grounder to short that was booted, allowing the game's first to score and putting runners on the corners. Swerdloff then committed a balk with 2B Kerrigan Cain at the plate that made it a 2-0 game, but he battled back to get a strikeout to end the inning.

The Judges got the runs back in the bottom of the inning. Senior 2B Sean O'Hare (Southampton, Mass./Hampshire Regional) opened with a single to center and moved to second on a wild pitch two batters later. Junior CF Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) double to cut the lead in half, while grad student 1B Pat Nicholson (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) plate Ferro with another single. Case starter Jarrett Gish induced a double play to escape the inning with the score knotted at 2-2.

After the Spartans' Jordan Daig led off the second inning with a single, the pitchers settled down, with only one runner making it past second base through the sixth inning.

In the seventh, Case put runners on the corners with no one out, as RF Sam Alexander singled and moved to second on a wild pitch, followed by Ossola's second hit of the game. Swerdloff helped his own case defensively by cutting down a run at the plate on a bunt back to the mound. He followed by getting a fly out to center and a grounder to third to escape any damage.

The Spartans managed to snap the tie in the eighth. After Swerdloff got the first two outs, Case got back-to-back doubles from shortstop Matt Keen and Paul Pakan to snap the tie. Swerdloff got a grounder to second to keep the deficit at one.

The Judges responded in the bottom of the frame thanks to Brenner's heroics. With one away, Ferro coaxed a walk. He stole second and moved to third on an errant throw. The Spartans then went to the bullpen. Reliever A.J. Boshinski struck out Nicholson looking for the second out, but he hit Judge rookie DH Dan Gad (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield) with a pitch to put runners on the corners. That brought up Brenner, who shot a ball down the left field line, allowing Ferro to score easily while pinch-runner Zach Bardwell (No. Andover, Mass./Central Catholic) raced home all the way from first, pinning the loss on Boshinski.

In the top of the ninth, Ossola singled to lead off the inning, but Swerdloff again made a nice defensive play, throwing out a pinch runner at second on a bunt. Nicholson then took over on the hill from first base to get the final two outs for his first save of the season and the fifth of his career.

Brandeis returns to action tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. against Rochester.