SANFORD, Fla. – The Brandeis University baseball team dropped heartbreaker tonight in their University Athletic Association tournament opener at Historic Sanford Stadium today, falling to Washington University, 5-4, on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Judges fell to 2-5, 0-1 UAA, while the Bears improved to 5-3, 1-0 UAA.
Brandeis sophomore Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./St. Peter Marian) threw his fourth career complete game, allowing 11 hits and five runs (four earned). He struck out two and walked two, but suffered the loss, falling to 0-2 on the season.
Offensively, five of Brandeis's six hits on the day came from the top two spots in the batting order. Rookie centerfielder Liam O'Connor (Avon, Conn./Avon) had his second-straight three-hit game, going 3-5 with two runs scored, a double and an RBI out of the leadoff spot. Senior catcher Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) was 2-3 with an RBI, a run scored and a triple. Sophomore Zach Bardwell (No. Andover, Mass./Central Catholic) had the Judges sixth hit and scored a run.
Washington had three hits apiece from 3B Chris Lowery and 1B Zach Kessinger, while five different players drove in the Bears' runs. Three WashU pitchers each allowed just two hits apiece. Dom Quaranta picked up the win with two innings of scoreless action, picking up half of the outs he recorded on strikeouts.
Brandeis trailed, 3-0, after Washington scored an unearned run in the second and strung together three singles and RBI groundout in the third. The Judges trimmed the deficit to 3-2 in the top of the fifth, when Bardwell reached on a two-out error. He scored all the way from first on O'Connor's second double of the season. After Ferro coaxed a walk, junior 1B Dan Gad (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield) hit grounder to third that resulted in another error and another Brandeis run.
Washington pushed the lead back to two in the bottom of the sixth without a hit. With one out, Brenner issued a walk, hit a batter and uncorked a wild pitch, putting two runners in scoring position. Brenner surrendered one run on an infield grounder to short, but got the final out to minimize the damage.
The Judges answered in the next half-inning. Bardwell led off with a single to third base. He was erased on O'Connor's grounder to short, but Ferro followed with his three-bagger – the third of his career – to cut into the lead. Gad followed with a drive to left field that allowed Ferro to tag and score, knotting the game at 4-4.
Brenner worked around a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh and he retired the order in the eighth. Brandeis put runners on the corners in the top of the ninth when O'Connor and Ferro each bounced a ball through the left side, but Quaranta fanned Gad to give the Bears their chance to win the game. WashU was able to do just that after Brenner got the first out, but Max Golembo, Lowery and Kessinger each singled to give Washington the victory.
Brandeis returns to UAA action tomorrow at 1 p.m. against Rochester.