Judges on wrong side of 3-2 pitcher's duel with Augustana (Ill.)

Rob Trenk '15 (photo by Sportspix.biz/Jan Volk)
Rob Trenk '15 (photo by Sportspix.biz/Jan Volk)

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Brandeis baseball team dropped its second-straight pitchers' duel today as the Judges fell to Augustana (Ill.) College, 3-2, at Chain-o-Lakes Park in Winter Haven, Fla., as part of the Russ Matt Invitational. Brandeis falls to 1-2 on the seasonk, while AC moves to 1-0.

The Vikings struck first against Brandeis sophomore Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./St. Peter Marian) in the opening frame. Leadoff hitter Jacob van Duyne doubled and stole third a batter later. After Brenner got a strikeout for the second out, 1B Grant Stewart struck an RBI single. Augustana added another hit in the inning, but Brenner escaped further damage with a grounder to second. 

Double plays hurt the Judges again, as they grounded into twin-killings in the first and fourth inning, but they scratched home a run in the second. With two away, sophomore 3B Rob Trenk (West Orange, N.J./West Orange) ripped a double, the second of his career. Rookie CF Liam O'Connor (Avon, Conn./Avon) followed with an RBI single off of AC's Jared McIntosh. It was the first run batted in of O'Connor's collegiate career. 

Both teams had base-runners in their third and fourth innings, but it was Augustana who broke through in the fifth thanks to van Duyne and Stewart. van Duyne singled to lead off and stole second this time. Once again, Brenner retired the next two batters, only to see Stewart make him pay with the RBI base knock. 

Brandeis had a wonderful opportunity to even the game in the bottom of the sixth, when senior LF Nick Cortese (Guaynabo, P.R./Baldwin School of Puerto Rico) singled to lead off the inning. He stole second and advanced to third on an errant throw by the catcher, but AC pitcher Jared McIntosh induced two shallow fly balls and a grounder to second to escape with the lead in tact. 

Judge sophomore Elio Fernandez (Bronx, N.Y./Fordham Prep) came on in relief of Brenner in the sixth, and stranded a leadoff walk on second after three-straight fly balls. He got two more pop-ups from the Vikings before senior LF Tyler Bernal smacked a home run to provide Augustana with a key insurance run. 

The Judges manufactured a run in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, sophomore RF Zach Bardwell (No. Andover, Mass./Central Catholic) drew a walk. Bardwell moved to second on an infield grounder by Cortese and then stole third. Senior catcher Chris Ferro (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) struck for an RBI single to get the Judges back within one. The Judges avoided giving the run back in the ninth when Ferro gunned down Stewart as he was trying to steal third following a double. Brandeis had one last chance in the ninth when Trenk had a two-out single, but AC senior Rick Erickson picked off a pinch runner to end the game.

Trenk led the Judges by going 2-for-4 with a run scored and a double. Cortese also had two of the Judges's seven hits. Augustana finished with 14 hits and four multiple hitters, led by Van Duyne's four hits and three by Stewart. On the hill, McIntosh allowed just six hits in eight innings, striking out three and walking three to earn the win. Brenner scattered 10 Augustana hits and suffered the loss. 

Brandeis plays two more games against Augustana in Florida, including tomorrow at 1 p.m.