WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Brandeis University baseball team got terrific contributions from their freshman class this afternoon as the Judges picked up a 7-4 win over St. Joseph's College of Brooklyn as part of the Russ Matt tournament. The win was the Judges' first of the season, as they improve to 1-1, while this was the season-opener for the Bears.
Brandeis got a terrific start on the mound from rookie Sean O'Neill (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial). In his collegiate debut, O'Neill went eight strong innings, scattering seven hits and allowing two earned runs. He struck out five and walked three while hitting a batter. He allowed just one hit from the fourth to the seventh innings to earn his first win.
Offensively, rookie DH Ryan Pocock (Westford, Mass./Westford) swung a big bat for the second game in a row. He went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, two RBI and two runs scored. The two-bagger was his second extra-base hit in as many games. Rookie shortstop Nick Falkson (Dedham, Mass./Thayer Acad.) went 3-for-5 with a double and a stolen base in his second game of the season.
Senior RF Zach Bardwell (No. Andover, Mass./Central Catholic School) also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base.
The Judges had the first big inning of the game in the second. Pocock drew a lead-off walk, and was on second base two batters later. Bardwell followed with an RBI single, and scored on an error following senior 2B Brian Allen's (Salem, N.H./Central Catholic School) single. Allen came home on Falkson's hit two batters later, giving Brandeis a 3-0 lead.
Brandeis added a fourth run in the third, when senior 1B Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./St Peter Marian) reached on a wild throw to first by the pitcher on a comebacker and scored on Pocock's single that followed.
SJC got on the board in the top of the fourth. O'Neill hit the first batter of the inning, and 1B Vinny Rossi followed with a single. After a bunt moved the runners into scoring position, the Bears Francis Rapp grounded to third. Sophomore Greg Heineman (Wilbraham, Mass./Minnechauf Regional) got the out at first, then was able to apply the tag when Brenner fired back across the diamond to end the inning.
Brandeis scored what proved to be the winning run in the bottom of the sixth, when junior CF Liam O'Connor (Avon, Conn./Avon) singled to center to plate Bardwell. The Judges tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh when senior LF Tom McCarthy (Yonkers, N.Y./Fieldston School) doubled and came home when Pocock did the same two batters later. With runners on the corners after a groundout and a walk, Pocock scored when as SJC threw to second on a double-steal and sophomore catcher Connor Doyle (Avon, Conn./Avon Old Farms) was caught in the pickle.
St. Joseph's got a run on Nicholas Loprinzi's double in the eighth, O'Neill's last inning of work. The Bears added two more in the ninth on a triple by Bobby Peretti, but they left the tying run on deck when Brandeis junior Ryan Healy (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) induced a tapper to first.
The Judges and Bears will meet again tomorrow at 12 noon for a doubleheader.