Swerdloff dominates Salve Regina as baseball picks up 2-1 win

Mike Swerdloff '13 (Photo by Sportspix/Mike Tureski)

WALTHAM, Mass. – Brandeis University senior Mike Swerdloff (Scarsdale, N.Y./Ardsley) tossed a complete-game five-hitter today to lead the Judges to a 2-1 upset of Salve Regina University, the No. 8 team in New England. With the win, the Judges improve to 12-20, while the Seahawks see their 10-game winning streak halted as they fall to 26-8.

Swerdloff, who saw Brandeis score just one run in his previous three outings, held a team to a season-low five hits for the third time this season. He tossed his third complete game in a row and the eighth of his career, throwing 103 pitches, 74 for strikes. Swerdloff struck out six for the third-straight game and did not walk a batter as he improved to 5-3 on the season.

Swerdloff outdueled SRU sophomore Kyle Pheland (No. Scituate, R.I./Scituate), who suffered just his second loss in eight decisions this season. Pheland tossed 7.1 innings of eight-hit ball. He allowed two earned runs, striking out one and walking just one.

It looked like it might be a high-scoring affair after both teams scored a run in the first inning. Salve Regina rookie centerfielder Ryan Kelly (Waldwick, N.J./Bergen Catholic) led off the game with a triple over the rightfielder's head. Two batters later, rookie leftfielder Ryan Sweenor (South Kingstown, R.I./South Kingstown) pulled a sacrifice fly to left to open the scoring.

The Judges answered right back in the bottom of the frame. Senior catcher Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) drew a five-pitch walk to lead off the inning. After a foul pop for the first out, senior LF Nick Cortese (Guaynabo, P.R./Baldwin School of Puerto Rico) moved Ferro up with a grounder. Sophomore 1B Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./St. Peter Marian) followed with a single to right-center field, plating Ferro without a throw to tie the game at 1-1.

The game was a pitcher's duel from there, with both teams flashing some leather to keep the other at bay. Swerdloff, who did not allow a runner past second base after the first, retired the Seahawks in order in four different innings after getting out of two early potential jams.

In the second, he stranded a one-out double by sophomore 3B Joe Haley (North Kingstown, R.I./North Kingstown) at second. In the third, the first two Salve Regina hitters reached on singles. Swerdloff got the first out on a called third strike, then Ferro came through by gunning down the back end of a double-steal attempt at third base. A grounder to short ended the inning, and Swerdloff allowed just two base-runners the rest of the way on an error in the fifth and a single in the seventh, when he struck out the side.

SRU's fancy glovework showed in the bottom of the fifth. Junior Anthony Conte (Georgetown, Mass./Georgetown) booted a ball with one on and one out to put runners on first and second, but he atoned by making a terrific diving stab up the middle on Ferro to get a force out and save a potential unearned run. The Seahawks then sniffed out a potential double-steal of home as Dominic DiSano (Central Falls, R.I./St. Raphael Acad.) picked a runner off of third.

In the sixth, it was Kelly in center who snuffed out a two-on, one-out, Brandeis rally, when he snared a line drive by junior DH Dan Gad (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield) and threw out the runner who was too far off the bag at second. Nice catches by sophomore Sean Becker (Richmond, Va./Mills Godwin) and Kelly in the seventh negated a lead-off single by Brandeis sophomore Tom McCarthy (Yonkers, N.Y./Fieldston School) after he was bunted to second.

The Judges finally broke through in the bottom of the eighth. Ferro led off with a single up the middle on a 3-2 count. Rookie CF Liam O'Connor (Avon, Conn./Avon) failed to bunt him along, but he came up with a hit-and-run single through the vacated hole at short. Cortese bunted the runners into scoring position, leading SRU skipper Steve Cirella to call on sophomore Gabe Cretella (Seymour, Conn./Seymour) to face Brenner. On the third pitch he saw, Brenner laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt as Ferro charged home with the winning run. Swerdloff then finished the job in the top of the ninth, including battling back from a 3-0 count to strike out the leadoff hitter in the inning.

Brandeis returns to action on Sunday afternoon with a doubleheader against Trinity College at noon. Salve Regina hosts Endicott in a Commonwealth Coast Conference twinbill Saturday at noon.