Sports

Brown slams season-opening series against Florida A&M, swept by Berkeley

Bears dominate games against Rattlers, strike out on critical opportunities against Golden Bears

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, March 15, 2018

The men’s baseball team swung into their regular season schedule with away series against Florida A&M and the University of California at Berkeley. Will Tomlinson ’20 silenced the Rattlers, pitching five scoreless innings to close the series with a 7-0 shutout win. Despite close contests in California, Bruno fell to the Golden Bears’ powerful offense four games to none.

The baseball team opened its season with a series victory over Florida A&M University and a series loss to the University of California at Berkeley over the past two weeks. The Bears claimed a trio of wins against the Rattlers (6-8) but fell to the Golden Bears (5-2) four games to none.

“We’ve shown a lot of positive results both on mound and offensively,” said Head Coach Grant Achilles. “We’ve played well against good teams, too, and have put ourselves in position to win.”

In the season opener against Florida A&M, center fielder Sam Grigo ’18 powered Bruno (3-5) to a 5-2 victory with two home runs. Grigo knocked in his second moonshot in the top of the ninth inning, which extended the Bears’ lead to two and helped the team clinch the win. Starting pitcher Reid Anderson ’18 was stellar on the mound, recording six strikeouts over six innings.

“(Anderson) gave us a great start that night,” Grigo wrote in an email to The Herald. “So it was nice to capitalize on his performance and get a win our first time out.”

The following day, Bruno’s bats came alive as the team dominated offensively in a 9-1 victory. The Rattlers recorded six hits, but Bruno doubled the mark with 12. Second baseman Rich Ciufo ’20 hit 4-4 for the day and crossed home plate three times, while third baseman Louis Gaitley ’21 tallied three RBIs. Later that afternoon, the Bears had only two hits in the second game of their doubleheader, which ended in a 5-0 loss.

“It felt great to be able to contribute in a positive way and help our team win,” Ciufo wrote in an email to The Herald. “We have a lot of talent at every position and our lineup is strong.”

The Bears exacted a bit of revenge to close the series against Florida A&M with a 7-0 shutout win. Bruno posted five runs in a hot seventh inning to put victory out of reach for the Rattlers. Gaitley and shortstop Willy Homza ’19 recorded two RBIs each and pitcher Will Tomlinson ’20 earned the win with five scoreless innings.

The following weekend, the Bears flew across the country to take on Berkeley in a four-game series. In the series opener, Brown’s pitching could not keep up with red hot Cal as the team fell 11-6. Although Bruno outhit Berkeley 15-13, the Bears gave up two home runs, including a three-run blast in the sixth inning which widened Cal’s lead to four.

That evening, Bruno once again could not contain Berkeley and dropped its second contest 10-9. The Bears gave up two home runs and failed to retaliate with any of their own. Starting pitcher Brennan Vasquez ’21 was pulled in the first inning after giving up six runs, and the Bears were forced to dig deep into their bullpen, sending five pitchers to the mound throughout the game.

“Coming into this weekend, Cal was ranked third in the country in batting average,” Achilles said. “So in all honesty, I think our guys have done really well. There’s always room for improvement and ways that you need to work to be better, but we are putting ourselves in position to win games and that starts with how we’ve been getting performance on the mound.”

The Bears came close to earning a victory Saturday, but were edged out 4-3 in a 12-inning marathon. Bruno took a 3-1 advantage in the sixth inning, but could not hold on in the final frames. An RBI single from Cal second baseman Darren Baker in the bottom of the ninth knotted the game at three. After two scoreless extra innings, Baker struck again in the bottom of the 12th with a walk-off home run to send Bruno to a crushing loss.

The Bears fought hard Sunday, but ultimately fell 7-6 in a close contest against Berkeley. Although Brown maintained a 5-1 lead in the fourth inning, a three-run rally from Cal — highlighted by a walk with the bases loaded — trimmed Bruno’s lead. With the Bears leading by one in the bottom of the eighth, catcher Tyrus Greene erupted with a two-run homer to give the Golden Bears the advantage, which they would not relinquish for the rest of the game. Brown led in hits 10-4, but could capitalize on its opportunity on the road.

“It’s definitely challenging (to play so many road games),” Achilles said. “Our guys have done well with it. It’s something where taking care of your body and getting the right amount of rest is certainly a huge part of being able to recover well.”

The Bears will stay on the road for the next two weeks, traveling to Dallas Baptist University Friday and Penn next weekend.

“Our number one objective is to go out every day and give ourselves a chance to win,” Achilles said. “Our main goal for the season is to be competing for the Ivy League championship.”

Brown will open its home slate against Bryant University March 27 at Murray Stadium.