O'Neill hurls baseball to first UAA win of season, 8-6, over NYU

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

SANFORD, Fla. – The Brandeis University baseball team got another fantastic effort on the mound from rookie Sean O'Neill (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial) and the Judges were able to provide him with the offense he needed in an 8-6 victory over New York University at the University Athletic Association tournament in Sanford Memorial Stadium today.

O'Neill, who tossed a complete-game in losing effort against NYU earlier in the tournament, went eight innings and gave up five runs (four earned) on six hits. He struck out six and walked three as he threw 112 pitches, 74 for strikes. It marked the third-straight start that O'Neill threw eight innings as he improve to 2-1 on the season.

Offensively, Brandeis pounded out a season-high 17 hits, with all nine starters getting at least one and seven of the nine collecting two or more safeties. Junior CF Liam O'Connor (Avon, Conn./Avon) provided the biggest spark out of the lead-off position, going 3-for-5 with three runs scored – tying a career-high - and a triple. Rookie DH Ryan Pocock (Westford, Mass./Westford) added to the offensive production with a team-high three RBI in a 2-fo-3 performance. Pocock now leads the team with 13 runs driven in this season.

The Judges, who were held to just one run on five hits in an earlier 2-1 loss to NYU's Cameron Serapillo-Frank, reached him for four hits and two runs in the first inning alone today. Junior Ryan Healy (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) drove in O'Connor for the first run of the game, while Pocock made it a 2-0 lead by knocking in classmate Nick Falkson (Dedham, Mass./Thayer Acad.).

NYU got four of their five hits off O'Neill in the top of the second, scoring three runs to take the lead. DH Scott Hilbrandt drove in the Violets' first two runs with a one-out single and scored three batters later when CF Michael Vokulich doubled to left-center .

Brandeis reclaimed the lead in the fourth. With one out, senior 2B Brian Allen (Salem, N.H./Central Catholic School) and O'Connor singled and Falkson was hit by a pitch. Serapillo-Frank induced a pop-up to short for the second for the second out, but Pocock dropped a single down the left-field line to drive in two runs and put the Judges ahead, 4-3.

NYU scored an unearned run without a hit in the fifth to tie the game, as SS Jonathan Iaione walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a booted ball.

Brandeis put up their third crooked number of the game in the bottom of the inning. After a pair of singles and a bunt put runners in scoring position with one away, Allen put the Judges ahead for good with sacrifice fly to right field. O'Connor followed with his second career triple, and he came home on a Falkson single up the middle that made it 7-4. The Judges added an insurance run in the eighth when Healy scored on an NYU error.

The Violets threatened to come back in their final at-bat of the game, when 1B Sam Raskin led off with a double, chasing O'Neill from the game. Sophomore Liam Coughlin (Townsend, Mass./Lowell Catholic) hit the first batter he faced to put two men on. Coughlin got the first out of the inning on a fly ball to left, but catcher CJ Picerni drove them both on with a double. Sophomore Justin Freeman (Chelmsford, Mass./Brooks School) came in from the bullpen and earned the save, but made things interesting. A passed ball moved Picerni to third, and Freeman issued a walk to Iaione to put the tying run on base. Freeman struck out the next batter, but a wild pitch on the third strike move Iaione into scoring position. Freeman got a called third strike on pinch hitter Christian Pellegrino to end the game.

Brandeis (3-10, 1-6 UAA) and NYU (3-7, 2-5 UAA) are scheduled to meet for a three-game series on March 28 and 29 at MCU Park in Brooklyn, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones, in what will be the Violets' first home games since 1974. The Judges wrap up UAA action tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. against Case Western Reserve University.