Baseball rallies twice versus Augustana before falling, 5-4

Kyle Brenner '15 (photo by Sportspix/Jan Volk)

WINTER PARK, Fla. -- The Brandeis baseball team twice rallied from a two-run deficit, today, but Augustana (Ill.) scored an unearned run in the bottom of the ninth to take a 5-4 decision at the Russ Matt Invitational in Florida today. The Judges fall to 1-3 with the loss, while the Vikings move to 2-0. 

Brandeis got a strong starting effort from senior Mike Swerdloff (Scarsdale, N.Y./Ardsley), who tossed 7.2 innings of seven-hit ball, allowing four runs (three earned) and striking out four with one walk. After allowing a single to lead off the game, Swerdloff retired 10 straight AC batters. The Vikings broke through in the fourth inning, after 2B Kurt Schmidt singled and scored two batters later on an error at third base. They added a second run in the fifth on back-to-back singles by catcher Jim Sandberg and LF Danny Fifer. RF Justin Van Dyne beat out a double-play ball to short to pick up the RBI.

The Judges were unable to get a base runner past first base in the first six innings, but the bats woke up in the seventh. Senior LF Nick Cortese (Guaynabo, P.R./Baldwin School of Puerto Rico) walked to lead off the inning and classmate Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) followed with a single. After the two were bunted to second and third, sophomore 1B Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./St. Peter-Marian) knocked them both home with a single. A two-out error moved Brenner into scoring position, but AC's Joe Cecchi got a strikeout to keep the game tied at 2-2. 

Augustana reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the eighth behind a walk and three singles. Cecchi gave the Vikings the lead back with a sacrifice fly and 3B Kyle Lenihan had a single off Brandeis reliever Brian Ing (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) to make it a 4-2 game. 

Facing Augustana closer Rick Erickson, the Judges were able to rally again. Brenner singled again with one away and came out in place of rookie pinch runner Dennis Abellaira (Nashua, N.H. / Bishop Guertin). Erickson got a strikeout for the second out of the inning, sophomore Rob Trenk (W. Orange, N.J./W. Orange) extended the game with a walk. Junior 3B Kevin Barry (No. Andover, Mass. / St. Johns Prep) answered with a single to cut it to 4-3, while rookie David Tyre-Vigil (Santa Monica, Calif. / Santa Monica) delivered a pinch single in his collegiate debut to knot the game at 4-4. Erickson induced a grounder to third to escape further damage.

In the ninth, Ing got the first two outs, but was unable to close out the game, as Augustana scored the winning run on just one hit, a single by No. 2 hitter Jeremy Juhl. An error put runners on second and third, the Judges issued an intentional walk to set up the force. Unfortunately, a pitch with the bases loaded got away from Ing, who hit a batter to plate the winning run. 

Brandeis will get another shot at Augustana Saturday afternoon and try to take one of the three-game set.