SANFORD, Fla.- Despite pounding out 12 hits and receiving eight innings of work from sophomore starter Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./ St. Peter-Marian), the Brandeis University baseball team fell 9-4 against the Emory Eagles in University Athletic Association (UAA) play at Historic Sanford Memorial Stadium. The Judges dropped their fourth consecutive game to move to 4-9 (2-5 UAA) while the Eagles improve to 9-9 (3-4 UAA).
In the first inning, both squads got out to a fast start. The Eagles jumped on Brenner early. After allowing a leadoff single to junior SS Jared Kahn (Atlanta, Ga./ Woodward Acad.), Brenner got two outs and appeared to be in position to escape the inning. Rookie DH Chris Slivka (Munster, Ind./ Munster) and junior 3B Ryan Toscano (Highlands Ranch, Colo./ Valor Christian) changed that when their back-to-back extra base hits brought in two runs. Emory tacked on one more run when a throw down to second allowed Toscano to score from third. Brandeis answered in the bottom half of the frame. With a runner on first and two away, sophomore 2B Tom McCarthy (Yonkers, N.Y./ Fieldston School) doubled to left to keep the inning alive. Junior 3B Kevin Barry (No. Andover, Mass./ St. Johns Prep) laced a single into center allowing both Judges to come home and cut the lead to 3-2.
After three straight scoreless frames, the Eagles were at it again in the fifth. In this inning, another lead-off base knock turned into a manufactured run. Kahn stole second on a strikeout, advanced to third on a throwing error, and scored when Slivka launched a sacrifice fly to right field to extend Emory's lead to 4-2. In the bottom of the frame, Brandeis answered again junior SS Dominic Schwartz (San Francisco, Calif./ Lowell) started the inning with a single to center. Following another hit by rookie CF Liam O'Connor (Avon, Conn./ Avon) and a sacrifice bunt from senior Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./ Walpole), senior LF Nick Cortese (Guaynabo, P.R./ Baldwin School of Puerto Rico) drove Schwartz in on an RBI groundout.
Unfortunately, the Judges would get no closer. Emory tacked on a run apiece in the sixth and seventh innings before breaking the game open with a three-run eighth that drove Brenner from the game. Although rookie RF Max Hart (Montville, Conn./ Montville) would drive in one more Brandeis run on an RBI groundout in the eighth, the Judges fell 9-4.
Brandeis was led offensively by O'Connor, who racked up a career-high four hits on the afternoon, and Barry who went 3-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. Brenner (0-3) walked one and struck out five in his eight innings of action but allowed 14 hits and nine runs (five earned) and took the loss.
The Eagles were led by rookie pitcher Paul Merolla (Wilton, Conn./ Wilton) who was fantastic in his first career complete game, improving to 2-1 while allowing 12 hits and four earned runs while walking none and fanning two. Slivka and Kahn were the top offensive performers, notching three hits each while Slivka racked up five RBIs and a run scored while Kahn added two more runs scored.
The Judges wrap up UAA play on Saturday March 16th against Rochester with the first pitch scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Emory finishes up their UAA slate against Case Western at 11:00 a.m.