Sports

Brown opens season with series losses to Nicholls State, No. 12 Texas A&M

Bruno edged by Nicholls State in season opener, swept by Texas A&M in opening three-game series

By
Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, March 12, 2017

The baseball team has opened its season with six consecutive losses, falling to Nicholls State University March 3 to March 5 and No. 12 Texas A&M University this weekend in a pair of three-game series.

“We played extremely well,” said Head Coach Grant Achilles. “Short of getting a number in the win column, it’s been a very, very good first six games for us against two very quality opponents.”

The Bears (0-6) fell to Nicholls State (9-6) in their season opener by a tally of 4-1. Catcher Mark Sluys ’18 evened the score at one in the top of the ninth with a single to the left, but Kyle Knauth responded in the bottom of the inning with a walk-off three-run home run to secure the victory for the Colonels.

The following day, Sluys narrowed the deficit to one in the ninth inning with a single, but the Colonels slighted Bruno 4-3. Sluys went 2-for-4 to lead the Bears while designated hitter Josh Huntley ’17 and third baseman Willy Homza ’19 both knocked in runs in the top of the fourth. Starter Reid Anderson ’18 threw six innings, allowing four runs and striking out six before giving way to JJ Sliepka ’19 and Calvin Farris ’20, who each posted scoreless innings.

Bruno closed out the series with a 3-1 loss. Sluys went 3-for-3 with a double and scored once. Joey Morales responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth to retake the lead before Chet Niehaus batted in an additional run for Nicholls State in the seventh.

“Our older guys have been doing what’s expected of them, they’ve been competing, but it really just hasn’t clicked at the end of the game yet — things haven’t really gone our way, we’ve had some tough luck,” said outfielder Rob Henry ’17. “At Nicholls State, we had some pretty bad luck with umpire calls and just the conditions, the weather conditions, the wind was blowing in one day, and a few balls didn’t go our way.”

The Bears opened their series against No. 12 Texas A&M (14-3) with a 6-4 loss. Outfielder Garett Delano ’20 led Bruno with three hits, batting in a pair of runs on his first career home run in the top of the fourth that narrowed the deficit to three.

Outfielder Rob Henry ’17 opened the first inning with a leadoff double to the left center before outfielder Sam Grigo ’18 brought him home with a single. The Aggies answered in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run from Logan Foster before adding five runs off starter Christian Taugner ’17 in the second.

After Sluys walked in the top of the fourth, Delano’s home run brought the score to 6-3. Homza contributed a two-out RBI single in the sixth to trim the lead to two. Taugner allowed five earned runs in six stanzas with three strikeouts before Will Tomlinson ’20 and Samuel Hauser ’17 provided relief with consecutive scoreless innings.

“We were either just even with Texas A&M or right ahead in terms of total hits,” Achilles said. “We really played very solid defense.”

Saturday’s contest was postponed after eight innings due to heavy rain and was resumed Sunday. The teams entered the final frame tied at two before the Aggies walked off in the bottom of the ninth on a bases-loaded walk.

Joel Davis and Braden Shewmake notched a pair of runs in the first inning to give the Aggies an early lead. Huntley opened scoring for the Bears with a solo home run to left field in the top of the fourth.

In the following stanza, Henry roped a single and later scored on a two-out double from Grigo to even the tally. Henry and first baseman Marc Sredojevic ’17 picked up two hits each in the loss.

Anderson threw 6.1 innings, allowing two earned runs with seven strikeouts before being relieved by Sliepka, who surrendered one run in the final two frames.

“Our pitchers faced one of the best offenses in the country this weekend and matched them pitch for pitch,” Achilles said.

The Bears closed out the series with a 5-1 loss Sunday. Brown took an early lead on a single by Huntley in the third inning, but the Aggies responded with five unanswered runs to put the game out of reach. Homza paced the Bears with three hits, and Delano notched two hits for a series average of .500.

So far, Bruno has posted a .249 team batting average, with a 4.22 earned run average.

“Our pitchers have been doing amazing. I don’t know what their ERA is, but they have been throwing strikes,” Henry said. “They haven’t been walking guys, our starters have gone deep into games, our relievers have come in and gotten the job done, and they’ve been getting outs.”

Both Nicholls State and Texas A&M are two weeks deeper into their seasons than Bruno, which puts the team at a slight disadvantage against non-conference opponents early in the season, Achilles said.

“There’s a certain comfort level that you have the more games you play,” Achilles said. “You’re able to get a better feel for your pitching staff and just get more experience throughout the season.”

“All and all, we’ve shown that we’re an extremely competitive baseball team, and we can play with some of the best teams in the country,” Achilles added.

The Bears will open their home slate Wednesday against the College of the Holy Cross. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. at the newly renovated Murray Stadium.