Brown Takes Series in Dramatic Fashion

Sorry for the lack of a weekend preview, I had a lot going on last week. Figured I’d make up for it by catching a few games while I’m traveling. The weather ruined my plans to see Post and UConn in New Jersey, so next up was Brown’s series finale down at Georgetown, and I certainly chose well. It was the type of game that made you forget about all the snow, cold, and cancellations we’ve put up with this season.

For Brown, it was a weekend of resilience. They got shelled in Saturday’s opener, but came right back to win the back end of the doubleheader. It was more of the same in Sunday’s finale. The Hoyas had a couple of big innings that left the Bears reeling, but they responded well on both occasions to come away with the win.

Coming In

The two teams took very different paths into this one. Georgetown, despite being picked last in the Big East, had started off 7-8 and entered the series on a four-game winning streak. The Bears, on the other hand, were 1-10, their only win coming against Northeastern on March 8. Pitching had been a big issue: they’d given up at least 9 runs in 8 of 11, and had yet to hold a team under 5.

After game one of the series, it looked like the trends would continue. Georgetown walloped the visitors 12-0. Brown responded excellently in the nightcap, however, and grabbed a 4-1 win. No player had more than one hit, but freshman Reid Anderson went six strong to pick up his second win, and Dante Bosnic and Dave St. Lawrence were lights-out in relief. The two teams were set up for a decisive third game on Sunday.

The Field

Sunny and 51 at the 1:00 PM first pitch. Obviously, I was glad I wasn’t trying to catch games back in New England. There was a decent breeze from first pitch to last, so it was jacket weather, for sure, but after this winter, it felt like I was catching a game at Pepperdine.

The venue wasn’t quite the Waves’ Eddy D. Field Stadium, but the Hoyas have a great set-up at Shirley Povich Field. Georgetown plays in Bethesda, Maryland, about 20 minutes north of their DC campus. The field’s got a nice brick press box/concessions/team store/restroom building that opens into a small concourse. Three fully chairbacked grandstands, one behind the plate and another extending down each baseline. Also some handicap-accessible seats right behind the backstop. Add a metal bleacher down each foul line, and the place seats about 500. Spacious, in-ground dugouts and a grass field, plus a nine-inning scoreboard and some logo windscreens in the outfield, and you’ve got a very nice facility. The Hoyas share it with the Bethesda Big Train, a Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League team that boasts major-league alumni like John Maine and Charlton Jimerson.

The Game

The Bears sent Kevin Guthrie to the mound against Georgetown’s Kevin Superko (the brother of Tufts’ Tim). In the first three innings, both teams had plenty of baserunners, but the game rolled along pretty well. Guthrie had to leave after one with what looked like an injury worry, and 6’8″ Max Ritchie came on in relief. The Bears’ offense opened the scoring in the third, when Will Marcal came up with two in scoring position and hit a hard two-out grounder to the left side. Hoya shortstop Ryan Busch cut it off to keep the man on second from coming around. Brown ended up getting that second run the next inning, when Robert Henry brought in Tim McKeithan on a sharply hit “error” down the left field line (very Georgetown-friendly scoring on that and a few other plays).

The game slowed to glacial, Sunday-finale pace in the bottom of the fourth, when a sloppy inning from the Bears let in three Georgetown runs. It featured, among other things, a hit batsman, throwing error, three Hoya steals, and a wild pitch, and Ritchie was lifted in favor of Taylor Wright, who got the third out.

Brown tied things back up immediately, and Wright came up huge, preserving a depleted pitching staff by holding the Hoyas scoreless in the fifth, sixth, and seventh. Meanwhile, the offense retook the lead. They chased Superko in the fifth without pushing anything across. Then nine-hole hitter Jake Levine came up in the sixth with a point to prove (with first and third in the second, an intentional rundown ended the inning with him at the plate). He sure proved it, launching his third home run of the year over the right field fence. At the top of the order, Henry reached base for the third time, and junior Noah Shulman put one out to left center. Shulman homered to left center again in the 8th, and it was 7-3 Bears.

Wright worked into the bottom of the 8th, when a leadoff bunt single saw him lifted for freshman Dante Bosnic, who’d thrown 17 pitches on Saturday. Bosnic walked the first man he faced, then settled in to retire three in a row and get out of the inning.

On came closer Dave St. Lawrence for the 9th after working a 15-pitch save the day before. The four-run lead quickly evaporated. St. Lawrence recorded two outs before giving up a run, but with the bases loaded, a sequence of passed ball-walk-hit batter saw the lead cut to 7-5. Chase Bushor then came up huge, lining a single to center that tied the game at 7. St. Lawrence, to his credit, locked things down and got a grounder with the winning run on third. At second, Shulman bobbled it slightly, but recovered to throw the guy out and send the game to extras.

In the Brown 10th, Levine grounded out, and Henry came to the plate for what turned out to be a pivotal at-bat. Hoya reliever Will Brown plunked him in the leg, and Henry went to take his base, but the plate ump called him back. Henry wasn’t pleased (understandably– the Hoyas’ hit batsman in the 9th hadn’t moved a muscle), but Grant Achilles came out quickly to chat with the ump and calm his player, and Henry returned to the plate to work a walk. Guess who that brought up in the pressure situation? For the third straight at-bat, Noah Shulman drove a ball to the left-center field gap, a double that brought Henry around from first.

Jake Spezial came on to work a 10th inning that would’ve seemed uneventful in most other games, but had tensions running high in this one. He got two quick outs, but when Georgetown’s eccentric first baseman A.C. Carter singled, hearts definitely started to beat a little louder with the previous inning in mind. The Hoyas’ Joseph Bialkowski came up and hit a sharp grounder to the right side, but first baseman Dan Kerr made a nice dive to his backhand and tagged the bag to end a crazy game and give Brown the series win.

The Bears

After a tough start to the season, this one’s gotta feel good for the Bears, who run to 3-11 on the year. Road doubleheaders with Princeton and Cornell await, and it’ll be a lot easier to start Ivy League play without the sour taste of a blown lead and a series loss in their mouths. The pitching’s struggled at times, but they’ve got six regulars hitting north of .300.

Overall for this season, it’s still too early to tell. After making the program’s first (and only) NCAA Tournament in 2007, the Bears have fallen on hard times. Since that year, they’ve had only one above-.500 year in the Rolfe Division (a 15-5 showing in 2009 that wasn’t enough to best 16-4 Dartmouth). The past three years have seen six, three, and six wins in Ivy League play. This year’s Rolfe Division, with Harvard playing well, Yale coming off a banner year, and Dartmouth always strong, won’t be easy for them to muscle their way into. But the team I saw today, if they figure things out on the mound, is a lot better than six wins.

Looking Ahead

Brown heads across the state line to face George Mason for two in the midweek, (I’ll hopefully make it to one of those). I’ll also have a weekend roundup on here tomorrow evening. And towards Thursday and Friday, weekend previews for a big slate of upcoming conference games. Thanks to everybody who’s been sending along updates, photos, and thoughts, I love hearing from you all. Till next time.

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