Sports

Bats resurrect baseball team in one-for-three weekend at GMU

Despite losses, Bruno picks up first win of season against Patriots this weekend

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, March 17, 2014

The baseball team won its first game of the season Friday against George Mason University, but dropped the next two games to lose the weekend series. 

A strong offensive showing helped Bruno (1-5) pull out its first win, 6-3, after suffering a shutout last weekend. But the Patriots (11-7) claimed Saturday and Sunday’s games when the Bears’ offense could not replicate its earlier output.

For the second straight weekend, the Bears lacked power, hitting no extra base hits against the Patriots after posting just two in three games against No. 1 South Carolina last weekend. But Head Coach Marek Drabinski was unconcerned with this aspect of the Bears’ play.

“Would I like to get some (extra base hits)? Yeah,” he said. “Am I concerned about not hitting a ton of extra base hits so far this season? No.”

Infielder Nate Kukowski ’14 was similarly unfazed, saying he had not realized the team had only hit singles. “A couple of balls that could have been doubles, some of their outfielders made good plays on.”

Despite their power outage, the Bruno bats were up to the task of facing the George Mason pitching staff.

 

Friday: Brown 6, George Mason 3

The Bears captured their first win of the season in dominating fashion, knocking 13 hits and scoring their first six runs of the year.

George Mason starter Anthony Montefusco had yet to allow a run this season, but Bruno jumped all over him right out of the gate. The Bears scored three runs on four hits and a bases-loaded walk in the first inning, and though they would not score off him for the rest of his six innings, they did manage six more hits for a total of 10 off the starter.

Though Montefusco had looked dominant entering the game, it was Brown starter Lucas Whitehill ’14 (W, 1-0) who pitched like one of the best in the country. He subdued the Patriot offense with ease, tossing seven innings and allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out seven.

“I thought Whitehill was dominant,” Drabinski said. “He made it look easy for seven innings.”

Bruno’s relievers struggled, as Kevin Guthrie ’16 and Nathan Mann ’15 combined to allow five hits and three runs in their two innings. The two runs Guthrie allowed in the bottom of the eighth nearly let the Patriots back in the game, but the Bears scored three more runs in the top of the ninth to lock the game down.

Most of Bruno’s offensive power came from the top six hitters in the lineup. Second baseman J.J. Franco ’14 led the way with three hits and two runs scored, marking his third straight game with a hit. Center fielder Robert Henry ’17, first baseman Dan Kerr ’15, designated hitter Josh Huntley ’17 and left fielder Daniel Massey ’14 each had two hits Friday, after no Brown player had a two-hit game in last weekend’s series against the Gamecocks.

Massey had three runs batted in, while Will Marcal ’15 had two more despite getting no hits — he drove in runs via a bases-loaded walk and a bases-loaded hit by pitch.

“We had a really good offensive game,” Kukowski said. “That was important for us from a confidence standpoint.”

 

Saturday: George Mason 5, Brown 2

The Patriots struck back in the second game of the series, as their starter Jared Gaynor held the Bears hitless for the game’s first four innings.

Gaynor started out strong, stymieing Bruno’s hitters, but they started catching up as the game went on. The Bears had no hits in the first four innings but at least one in every inning from the fifth through the ninth.

Still, Bruno did not score until the eighth, and even that one run came with the help of an error. As Gaynor continued to deteriorate, the Bears notched another run off him in the ninth, and he was pulled just one out short of the complete game.

Brown starter Dave St. Lawrence ’15 (L, 0-2) was matching up well with Gaynor early, keeping the Bears even. But a triple and two homers for George Mason in the fifth did him in, giving the Patriots a 4-0 lead they would not relinquish. St. Lawrence’s final line was five innings, seven hits, four earned runs, two walks and seven strikeouts.

Drabinski was happy with St. Lawrence’s performance, noting that he “just had that one bad inning… overall he was good.”

The Bears’ offense again posted a better showing than last weekend’s shutout, scraping together eight hits and two runs, but it was not enough. Marcal pitched in two hits — his first since the season opener — and Guthrie knocked three, a day after giving up two runs on the mound.

Though his team scored just twice, Drabinski felt the Bears hit the ball better than the scoreboard indicated on Saturday.

“We had five lineouts that went right at guys,” he said.

“The little things went their way and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the weekend,” said Christian Taugner ’17.

 

Sunday: George Mason 2, Brown 1

The Patriots won the third game after grabbing a late lead, and the Bears squandered a great effort from the starter Taugner, who masterful in keeping the game tied before yielding the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.

Sunday “was not a hitter’s day,” Drabinski said, citing the cold weather and heavy clouds. “You knew there weren’t going to be a lot of runs scored.”

Taugner (L, 0-2) was the hard-luck loser for the second straight weekend. He gave up just one earned run, but two total runs, on six hits and no walks while striking out eight. Three of those hits and the lone earned run came in the eighth inning, when the George Mason bats finally caught up to Taugner’s pitches.

The first-year had little margin for error, as the Patriot pitching staff mowed Bruno down. Starter Tyler Zombro pitched five innings and gave up one unearned run on three hits, and reliever Evan Porcella allowed just one hit in four innings, retiring the last 10 Bears straight.

“It’s a little frustrating,” Taugner said, referring to the lack of offensive support. But he was sure to mention that the blame lies with him for allowing the runs, and said he wished he could have back the “just one pitch I missed.”

Franco and Kerr each had a hit, with Kerr pitching in the only RBI, while the other two base knocks came from third baseman Marc Sredojevic ’17 and catcher Wes Van Boom ’14.

The coach and players agreed that the offense is not yet where it needs to be, but that it will certainly get there.

“We took a step forward… execution-wise,” Drabinski said. “I think (the offense) will come. I don’t think we’re far away.”

“It takes a while for hitters to catch up” at the beginning of the season, Franco said. “When we get settled, we should be performing the way we know we’re capable of.”

“The hitting will come,” Taugner added.

The team will take the field again March 22 against University of Massachusetts-Lowell in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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