Swerdloff, Fernandez pitch Judges past UR, 5-3, in UAA action

Mike Swerdloff (#9) and Elio Fernandez (#33) pitched the Judges to victory over Rochester (Photo by Sportspix/Jan Volk)
Mike Swerdloff (#9) and Elio Fernandez (#33) pitched the Judges to victory over Rochester (Photo by Sportspix/Jan Volk)

SANFORD, Fla. – The Brandeis University baseball team got a combined six-hitter from senior lefty Mike Swerdloff (Scarsdale, N.Y./Ardsley) and sophomore righty Elio Fernandez (Bronx, N.Y./Fordham Prep) and the Judges used a four-run fourth inning to defeat the University of Rochester Yellowjackets, 5-3, in a University Athletic Association (UAA) contest at Historic Sanford Stadium today. With the win, Brandeis improves to 3-5, 1-1 in the UAA, while UR falls to 1-2 overall and in conference.

The Judges jumped on Rochester starter Jeremy Diller for a run in the first inning. Rookie CF Liam O'Connor (Avon, Conn./Avon) singled to left to lead off the game. Diller retired the next two batters, but sophomore 1B Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./St. Peter Marian) bounced one through the right side and classmate 2B Tom McCarthy (Yonkers, N.Y./Fieldston School) went to left to drive in O'Connor from second.

Rochester got the run back in the fourth inning without benefit of a hit. Swerdloff plunked Rochester RF Josh Ludwig with a 1-1 pitch to start the frame. Ludwig was bunted to second, and one out later, LF Matt Todd drew a four-pitch walk. The two then went for a double-steal, and when Brandeis threw down to third to try to catch Ludwig, the ball went into left field. That allowed Ludwick to score an unearned run, but junior LF Brian Ing (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich) cut down Todd as he tried to reach third, ending the inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Judges blew things open with four runs on five hits. Rookie RF Max Hart (Montville, Conn./Montville) and sophomore SS Rob Trenk (W. Orange, N.J./W. Orange) each singled through the right side early in the count. Ing bunted the pair into scoring position, and O'Connor followed with a two-run single up the middle for his eighth hit in a span of 11 at-bats. Senior catcher Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) singled to third base, with a throwing error advancing both runners into scoring position. Junior DH Dan Gad (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield)  knocked in what proved to be the game-winning run with a grounder to short, while Brenner capped the scoring with another single up the middle. He went on to steal second, the first theft of his career, but Diller finally got out of the inning with a grounder to first, as the Judges owned a 5-1 lead.

Rochester would add another unearned run in the fifth, when 1B Nick Carlson reached on a lead-off error. He was bunted to second and scored two batters later on a single from 2B Ethan Sander. Swerdloff avoided any further trouble by inducing a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning.  The Yellowjackets' third run came in the seventh and also came home without a hit, as a walk, a hit batter, a bunt and a grounder to second cut the lead to 5-3, but Swerdloff struck out the last batter he faced to end the inning.

Fernandez came on in the eighth and tossed an effective two innings. UR catcher Nolan Schultz doubled on Fernandez's first offering of the game, but the sophomore got his revenge by picking Schultz off second. Fernandez then retired the final five batters on 17 pitches for his first collegiate save.

Swerdloff earned his first win of the season with seven innings of five-hit ball, allowing three runs, but only one earned. He struck out four and walked two, but did hit three batters. Fernandez allowed just the one hit in two innings of work.

Offensively, Brandeis knocked 13 hits, with five players getting multiple hits. Trenk had a team-high three hits (3-4, R). O'Connor (2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, HBP) continued his hot hitting, raising his batting average to .367. Over the last three games he is 8-13 with six runs scored, four RBI, and two doubles. In today's game, McCarthy had Brandeis's only extra-base hit, a double to lead off the seventh inning.

For Rochester, Sander and Ritchie each had two hits, accounting for two-third of the 'Jackets offense.  Diller suffered the loss with 11 hits and five runs (four earned) allowed in six innings of work. Stephen Cool allowed two hits in two scoreless innings of relief.

The Judges continue UAA play tomorrow at 11 a.m. against Case Western Reserve.