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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Baseball drops third straight 9-7

Published: April 3, 2009
Section: Sports

All the world’s a stage and we are merely players in it. Thursday afternoon presented a stage for a grand comeback. With no outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Judges dented Fitchburg State reliever Jake Barbarotta with Nick Gallagher ’09, leading off the inning with a walk and Jeff Dennis ’11 moving him over to third with a single to center bringing up lead off hitter Mike Alfego ’09. The good news was that Alfego brought home Gallagher cutting the deficit to 9-7.

The bad news was that the run came as result of a sharp grounder to first sparking a 3-6-3 double play. Now down to their last out, Deschler managed to work the count, fouling off a bunch of pitches until Barbarotta coaxed a fly out to right, ending the comeback and the game. An unfortunate curtain call that now extends Brandeis’s winless streak to three games.

Things started rough for Brandeis starter Pat Nicholson ’11 after getting the lead-off hitter to fly out, a double and single by the next two batters put Fitchburg State on the board. Errors once again hurt Brandeis as a dropped throw from second baseman John O’Brion ’10 put runners on first and second with one out as opposed to having one on with two outs.

Fitchburg State took advantage of the charity, a double from Richard Graham made the score 2-0, a sacrifice grounder and a single later, the Falcons had established a 4-0 lead.

Brandeis however was not ready to give. A sac fly in the first, an RBI double in the second and a sacrifice grounder in the third brought the score to a 4-3 nail-biter.

A Brandeis throwing error brought Fitchburg State back up by two but the bottom half of the inning saw the Judges break loose. After bringing one run across, the Judges had one man on and two outs, bringing up O’Brion who came through with a two run homer to give the Judges the 6-5 lead.

“That was huge, we were pumped.” Drew Brzozowski ’10 said. “That was big, first lead of the game, I think it really turned the momentum towards us and I think we fed off that a little bit.”

Unfortunately, the luck ran out in the seventh. Fitchburg jumped on a tiring Nicholson, tying the game up with their first two batters.

Nicholson managed to recover to get the next two batters out, but a walk and a single would follow, loading the bases and ending the day for Nicholson.

Charged with getting the final out was Justin Duncombe ’11; however, things did not break his way. A bloop single from John Phelan down the right field line brought across the go ahead and winning runs. An insurance run was added on a wild pitch later that inning.

“I think they were pitching well,” Brzozowski explained in defense of his team mates. “I think Patty (Nicholson) obviously might have just got a little tired since it was the seventh.

And they made good pitches, it was just that the hit that killed us was a little dink bloop, and obviously, there’s nothing you can do about that. Obviously as a pitcher, it’s the most frustrating hit, but there’s nothing you can do about that, they made good pitches.”

Nicholson was branded with his second loss of the season covering 6.2 innings, giving up 9 runs on 10 hits; five earned and also surrendered five doubles.

Duncombe pitched 1.2 innings of relief, giving up one hit, no runs earned or charged and rounding out the Brandeis hurlers was James Collins ’09 who had a scoreless 2/3 inning. Falcon reliever Tyler Kendrick earned the win, throwing two shutout innings of relief before handing the ball over to Barbarotta who gave up one run on one hit over two innings to get the save.

Leading the charge on offense was O’Brion, who finished 2-4 with the two run homer. Drake Livada went 0-3 but knocked in 2 RBI’s. Jon Chu ’12 had a solid day at the plate as the productive rookie finished 1-2 with a double. The Judges also finished with 3 errors, bringing the combined total up to 12 over the last three games.

Fitchburg State’s offense was paced by John Phelan; the leadoff hitter finished 3-4 with 2 RBI. Also with three hits and 2 RBI was outfielder Richard Graham. Graham also had two doubles.

The loss comes two days after Brandeis fell quietly to MIT 8-2 to close out the month of March.

Things looked good for Brandeis in their first at-bat, singles from Tony Deshler ’11 and Jon Chu ’12 placed runners on first and third with one out.

All was for naught, however, as the next batter, Drake Livada ’10 grounded back to the pitcher for a 1-4-3 double play to end the inning. The game would go downhill from there.

Errors once again proved costly for Brandeis in the top of the second as Engineer’s leadoff batter Kenneth Lin reached safely on an error from shortstop Sean O’Hare ’12 and would score two batters later on a throwing error from centerfielder Deshler.

The winning runs were brought home two batters later as MIT shortstop Bryan Macomber made the score 3-0 with a run single.

Three singles in the fourth inning made the score 5-0 when Brandeis finally entered the board with a single from Pat Nicholson, which brought home Chu.

MIT, however, broke through again in the sixth, as two singles and a wild pitch made it 8-1. A sacrifice ground out by Livada brought home Mike Alfego ’09 to make it 8-2 after six. That would be all she wrote for the Judges’ offense; they were held hitless in the final three innings by MIT reliever Ryan Munoz who picked up his third save of the season.

Kyle Ritchie ’10 was saddled with the loss, going 5.1 innings, giving up 7 runs on eight hits, 5 of them earned. Alex Tynan ’12 had a rough outing in relief, giving up a run on two hits in the third of an inning pitched. James Collins, Justin Duncombe and Nick Pollack ’11 covered the remaining two and two-thirds innings, not allowing another run across.

Torre Swanson got the win for MIT, scattering 5 hits and 2 runs over six innings. Munoz picked up the save, holding Brandeis without a hit, the only allowances being two walks. Both hurlers also had three strikeouts.

Jon Chu had a good day at the plate, reaching base at every appearance with two hits and two walks. Livada and Nicholson each had an RBI. Five MIT players finished with multi-hit performances.

Leading the Engineers was left fielder David Nole who went 3-4 with 3 runs scored. Lead-off hitter Brian Doyle went 2-5 with 2 RBI’s, also driving in 2 runs across was Macomber who went 2-4.

With their third straight loss, Brandeis is now 10-12 and will look to break out of their slump as they take on Clark for a Saturday April 4 afternoon double header followed with a Sunday matinee against Keene State. Then it’s nearby rival Tufts coming to Stein Diamond on April 7 at 3 pm.