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11 games in nine days wears out baseball team

Despite several outstanding individual performances, the baseball team struggled to find consistency in its 11-game-in-nine-days road trip over the break, going 4-7 in the stretch. The trip concluded with a disappointing opening to Ivy League competition, in which Brown lost both of its games to Columbia, before splitting the next two with the University of Pennsylvania. The team's record now stands at 7-11 overall, with a 1-3 mark in league play.

The trip began March 22 with a game against a Hartford team that was finishing out its own road trip, playing its eighth game in seven days. The Bears capitalized on Hartford's tired pitching staff as well the Hawks' eight errors to come away with a 25-9 win. Bruno got at least two hits from each starter, including designated hitter Conor Reardon '08, who led the team with four hits, and catcher Matt Colantonio '11, who drove in four runs.

Colantonio currently leads the team with a .421 batting average, and brought home Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for his performance during Brown's spring trip.

The next day, the team split its two games in a doubleheader against UNC-Asheville. In the first game, Will Weidig '10 struggled on the mound, allowing five runs in four innings in a 9-3 loss. With the starting pitching rotation still yet to be set, the team hopes that Weidig, one of the definite starters, will return to top form, as he did in his eight-inning, two-run performance against Florida on March 8.

"Hopefully Will can pitch the way he did down in Florida, and we can get him going again," said Head Coach Marek Drabinski. "We have a lot of guys that need to get better in the next four or five days."

In the second game, the Bears built a 7-0 lead in the second inning, but the Bulldogs got to Alex Silverman '08 for five runs in the bottom half of the frame. Brown expanded the lead to 11-5, but another four runs from UNC-Asheville in the bottom of the sixth made it a two-run game again. But the Bears held on to win 13-12, behind a seventh-inning homer from first baseman JJ Eno '08 and solid relief efforts from Anthony Vita '08 and tri-captain Rob Hallberg '08. Centerfielder Steve Daniels '09 led the offense with four hits and four runs scored.

Brown grabbed a 2-1 lead early on against Campbell University on March 24, but Jeff Hoffman pitched five-and-two-thirds shutout innings out of the bullpen for the Camels, who rallied to win 5-2.

"We just didn't show up to play ... and that was very disappointing from a coaching standpoint," Drabinski said.

Bruno's woes continued in their next game on the following day, a 7-6 loss to Duke. The Bears led 6-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth, but the Blue Devils tied the game, and went on to win in the tenth on a walk-off single off of Hallberg.

Brown rebounded the next day in a 16-7 rout of Richmond, behind four hits from Daniels, and three hits apiece from Colantonio, right fielder Nick Punal '09, and tri-captain left fielder Ryan Murphy '08.

The team hopes to get more consistent productivity out of upperclassmen like Murphy, who is hitting just .286, one season after leading the team with a .410 average.

"In college baseball, where 80 percent of pitches are middle to away, if you can hit the ball the other way and trust your hands ... you're going to have a lot of success," Drabinski said. "That's really what Ryan Murphy did last year, and he's got to get back to it. He hasn't been consistent with it yet, and hopefully he will be."

Against George Mason on March 27, the Bears scored two runs in the top of the ninth to tie the game at five, but Greg Karwaski '11 allowed a walk-off home run in the bottom of the inning, to give Brown a 6-5 loss.

After a much-needed day off, Brown's Ivy League season began on March 29, and in the four games over the next two days, the Bears struggled to get anything going at the plate, managing just 11 total runs in the four games.

"We had pretty good numbers, and a lot of the teams we played down South were impressed with us offensively, but for one reason or another, our bats did not show up in those four games," Drabinski said.

In the first game, Weidig struggled again, allowing six runs over six innings in a 6-3 loss. In the second game, the Lions easily defeated the Bears 11-2, despite a 4-for-4 day at the plate from Reardon, and two hits from Daniels and Punal. Reardon is second on the team with a .394 average, followed by Daniels, who is hitting .350. Drabinski, however, is concerned with the lack of depth in the lineup.

"Right now some of our top guys are struggling offensively, and it's tough when...we don't have enough guys consecutively hitting," Drabinski said. "We need four, five, six guys getting hot at the same time."

The offense struggled again on Sunday, but Silverman surrendered just one run to Penn in 6 1/3 innings, and Hallberg earned the save by recording the final two outs, to give the Bears a 2-1 win in the first game of the doubleheader, which is required to be only seven innings.

"I was definitely getting ahead of a lot of batters," Silverman said. "I was throwing a lot of strikes...and as a pitcher you have to throw down in the zone to be successful, so that was a key to my success against Penn."

The second game of the doubleheader was a traditional nine-inning affair and the trip ended with a 6-4 loss to Penn, despite a three-run first inning for Brown. Vita pitched four shutout inning before the Quakers struck for five runs in the fifth, and the Penn bullpen shut down the Bears, allowing just one run in eight-and-one-third total innings of relief.

The team will look to bounce back in its six home games over the next five days, when they have doubleheaders against URI on Wednesday, Cornell on Saturday, and Princeton on Sunday.

"The trouble we had could have been for a number of reasons," Silverman said. "But I definitely have confidence that we're going to be better as pitchers and as hitters in our next games."



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