Baseball drops 2-1 heartbreaker to Augustana in season opener

Sean O'Neill '18 (photo by Robert Shaw)
Sean O'Neill '18 (photo by Robert Shaw)

AUBURNDALE, Fla. – The Brandeis University baseball team dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 decision to Augustana (Ill.) in their 2017 season opener at the Russ Matt Invitational in Florida.

The game was scoreless through the first seven innings as Brandeis starter Sean O'Neill (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial) and Augustana's Kyle McGinley struck out eight and nine opponents, respectively. O'Neill went 4.2 innings in his first start since the team's 2016 Florida trip after missing the entire New England portion of the schedule, fanning eight and allowing just three hits. McGinley struck out nine and gave up one hit in six innings of work.

Judge rookie lefthander Greg Tobin (Medway, Mass./Catholic Memorial) tossed two innings of  one-hit ball in his collegiate debut, striking out two and walking one. Augustana finally got to sophomore Daniel Schupper (Villanova, Pa./Harriton) in the bottom of the eighth inning, when a leadoff walk was bunted to second and came home on a double by Carter Amundsen. After an intentional walk and a double steal put two more runners in scoring position, Schupper got a strikeout and grounder to short to escape further damage.

Brandeis responded in the top of the ninth against AU reliever Nick Refka. Senior CF Ryan Tettemer (Westfield, Mass./Suffield Acad.) reached on an error to lead off the inning and was bunted to second by rookie  2B Victor Oppenheimer (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade). After Refka hit a batter, rookie 1B Kyle Slevira (Manchester, N.H./Hopkinton) singled past the shortstop, plating Tettemer to knot the score at 1-1. The Vikings were able to strand a runner in scoring position after Slevira was thrown out trying to advance to second on the throw home.

In the top of the ninth, Judge junior Bradley Bousquet (Athol, Mass./Athol) came on in relief, and after getting the first out with a K, Augustana's Tyler Nunez doubled and John Moraski struck the walk-off hit.

The pitchers were generally ahead of the hitters in the season opener for both teams, as the Judges and Vikings hurlers combined to strike out 25 hitters while allowing just 10 hits.

Brandeis's hits came from Slevira, rookie catcher Brian Shaw (Conway, Mass./Northfield Mount Hermon) and senior shortstop Jay Schaff (Cheshire, Conn./Xavier). Amundsen and Cayton Wallace were double hitters for the Vikings, while Tommy Kirakopoulos doubled along with Nunez and Amundsen.

Bousquet suffered the loss (0-1), while Refka earned the win (1-0).

The two teams will meet again tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. in the second of a four-game set.