Baseball comeback bid falls just short against NYU, 9-8

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University baseball team trailed 9-2 headed into the bottom of the seventh inning and the Judges scored six times in their final three at-bats, but a pair of fine defensive plays by visiting NYU allowed the Violets to hang on for a 9-8 University Athletic Association win. The loss drops Brandeis to 3-21, 1-11 UAA, on the season while NYU improves 25-8, 5-7.

NYU scored five of their nine runs in the first inning. Right fielder Coltrane Tait drove in a pair with a double, followed by an RBI single from left fielder Isaac Martinez. Shortstop Francis Prior plated two more with a single to make it 5-0 after half an inning.

Brandeis got two back in the second on RBI singles by rookie second baseman Tommy Sand (South Windor, Conn./South Windsor) and sophomore shortstop Victor Oppenheimer (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade).

In the fourth, NYU increased their lead to 8-2 on a two-run single by third baseman Chris Cassandra and a hit down the left field line by second baseman Ryan McLaughlin. McLaughlin capped the Violets' scoring with a solo home run in the top of the seventh.

The Judges started their rally after the seventh-inning stretch. With one out, Oppenheimer and rookie center fielder Dan Frey (Ipswich, Mass./St. Johns Prep) hit back-to-back doubles to open the scoring. Rookie third baseman Mike Khoury (East  Bridgewater, Mass./East Bridgewater) singled home Frey, and sophomore right fielder Dan O'Leary (Lynnfield, Mass./Lynnfield) followed with a long home run to left field. It was O'Leary's second blast of the weekend and cut the deficit to 9-6.

After a scoreless eighth inning thanks to a line-drive double play snared at the mound by grad student Mike Musto (Milton, Mass./Milton) and a 1-2-3 top of the ninth by junior Daniel Schupper (Villanova, Pa./Harriton), came a dramatic bottom of the ninth.

Oppenheimer led off with a bunt single and moved to second on a wild pitch with one out. After rookie first baseman Isaac Fossas (Dudley, Mass./Milton Academy) drew a walk, NYU went to the bullpen for ace reliever Matthew Millus. Khoury greeted Millus with a single to left that loaded the bases. O'Leary followed as the winning run and blasted another ball to right field that Martinez tracked down at the fence. Oppenheimer scored and Fossas moved to third on the play, making it 9-7. Rookie catcher Luke Hall (Georgetown, Mass./Georgetown) dropped a single to right field, cutting the deficit to one run an putting the tying run in scoring position. Rookie DH Scott Ziegler (Avon, Conn./Avon Old Farms) followed, putting a charge into a ball to right field. NYU's Coltrane Tait made a terrific over-the-shoulder diving catch to end the game on a shot that would have at least tied things up.

Offensively, Brandeis was led by Oppenheimer, who went a career-best 4-4 with a walk, a double, an RBI and two runs scored. Khoury was 3-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while O'Leary drove in a career-high three RBI.

McLaughlin was the offensive start for NYU, going 3-4 with two RBI, a run scored and his home run. Martinez and first baseman Colman Hendershot also had two hits for the visitors.

On the mound, NYU's Sal Cammisulli earned the win to go to 5-1 on the season. He threw five innings of five-hit ball, giving up two earned runs, walking five and striking out six. Brandeis's Brandon Musto (Milton, Mass./Milton) suffered the loss, giving up four hits and four walks in two-thirds of an inning. Senior Bradley Bousquet (Athol, Mass./Athol) had a fine outing in his final regular-season game, giving up two earned runs in 4.1 innings of work, giving up five hits and striking out three without walking a batter.

Brandeis will wrap up their 2018 season next Thursday through Saturday with their first-ever UAA trip to St. Louis to meet Washington University. NYU hosts Yeshiva on Wednesday afternoon and Emory in a UAA series next weekend.