WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University softball team split a pair of contrasting one-run games in their first home action of the season today, defeating visiting WPI in a 2-1 pitcher's duel in the opener before falling in a slugfest, 13-12, after the Engineers scored eight runs in the first inning and were ahead 12-4 in the fifth.
In the opener, Brandeis (4-6) scored twice in the first inning, and senior pitcher Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) made it stand up. Rookie RF Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) singled to center to open the game and senior SS Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) followed with a triple to the right-field corner. Senior 1B Marianne Specker (No. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) plated Grimm with what proved to be the game-winning run on a grounder to her opposite number at first base.
Miller did the rest for the Judges the team's best pitching performance of the season. She gave just five hits and one earned run, allowing only three runners past first base. Miller walked two and struck out 10, matching her career-high. She worked around a lead-off double by Engineer sophomore catcher Juliana Fekete (Belgrade, Maine/Messalonskee) by striking out the last two hitters of the first and stranded another runner at third in the second. After leaving a runner on first in the next two innings, WPI finally broke through in the fifth. With two away, Fekete doubled to the fence in left-center field, and rookie 3B Katie Bumila (Raynham, Mass./Coyle and Cassidy) brought her home with a single to center. Miller got a strikeout to end the inning and did not allow a hit in the sixth or seventh to earn her third complete game of the season and the 14th of her career.
In the nightcap, WPI broke out their hitting shoes early, sending 12 hitters to the plate and scoring eight times against Brandeis rookie Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St. Joseph's). After Cote retired the first two hitters, nine in a row reached safely on a combination of five singles, three walks and a hit batter. Rookie RF Amanda Pierce (Ware, Mass./Ware) and Bumila had the big blows of the inning with two-run singles.
Brandeis answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame, as Cote helped her own cause with a two-out, two-run single that cut the deficit to 8-3.
The Engineers look to end the game early when an RBI double by Bumila in the third and a two-run home run to straight-away center off the bat of sophomore CF Nicole McDonough (Abington, Mass./Cardinal Spellman) in the fifth made it a 12-4 lead for the visitors.
Brandeis kept the game alive in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double by Specker and a run-scoring single by senior CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) that cut the deficit to 12-6. WPI got one run back in the sixth, a run that would prove to be the game-winner. After sophomore SS Lauren DiFelice (Acushnet, Mass./Bishop Stang) led off with a double and sophomore 1B Ali LaRue (South Glens Falls, N.Y./South Glens Falls) walked, Pierce hit a ball to third base that was was booted, loading the bases. After Brandeis junior Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) got a strikeout for the first out, a grounder to short by senior 2B Allie Roche (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) resulted in a force at third base and the 13th run for the Engineers.
Brandeis made it a game in the bottom of the sixth when 10 hitters came to the plate. The Judges loaded the bases with one out on singles by Miller and sophomore 2B Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) and a walk to Genovese. Grimm plated the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to center field that advanced the other two runners. Specker followed with a two-run single off the fence in right-center field, and Porcaro doubled down the left-field line to cut the lead to 13-11. Cote returned to pinch hit for Ducinski, and her tapper back to the mound was fielded cleanly, but the toss to first was dropped, allowing a head's-up Porcaro to score from second. WPI senior Erin Flaherty (Stoughton, Mass./Stoughton) induced a foul pop to escape with a one-run lead.
After Miller retired the side easily in the seventh with the sun setting, Brandeis had one last chance to complete the comeback. Engineer junior Christa Coscia (Lakeville, Mass./Apponequet Regional) walked senior LF Megan DeNubila (Princeton, Mass./Wachusett Regional) on four pitches to start the inning. McWilliams bunted her into scoring position, but the Judges were unable to advance her any further, as McDonough was positioned perfectly in center field for the last two outs. She made a charging catch on Genovese's short fly ball for the second and made just a couple of steps in on Grimm's hard-hit ball to end the contest.
Offensive leaders for the game were Specker (3-4, 2B, 2 R, 4 RBI), Porcaro (2-4, 2B, R, SB 3 RBI) and Genovese (2-3, 2 BB, 3 R, SB) for Brandeis and Bumila (3-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI) and McDonough (1-3, 2 BB, HR (5), 2 R, 2 RBI). Cote suffered the loss to fall to 0-1, while Flaherty survived for the win to improve to 2-1. Coscia earned her first save of the season.
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