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Baseball creamed by Crimson in four games

The baseball team had a rough weekend, dropping all four games at Harvard before falling short at home against Bryant on Monday. With a 14-23 overall record, 5-11 in Ivy League play, the Bears are now mathematically eliminated from winning an Ivy League championship. Harvard improves to just 8-26 and 7-9 in the Ivy League.

Things started well for Bruno, only to go quickly downhill. In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader against Harvard, Brown put together a four-run first inning, which included an RBI double by right fielder Nick Punal '10. After that the Bears failed to score any additional runs in the rest of the game. The Crimson chipped away with a run in the bottom of the first inning and another in the fourth to cut the lead to 4-2.

In the fifth inning, starting pitcher Anthony Vita '08 began to struggle with his control. Vita walked two batters and hit another to load the bases, then hit another batter to bring in a run, before surrendering a bases-clearing three-run double. That was the last offense either team would garner, and the Crimson took the series opener, 6-4.

Game Two on Saturday produced a similar outcome, when five walks and a hit batsman hurt starting pitcher Will Weidig '10 in a 7-3 loss for Bruno. Designated hitter Conor Reardon '08 led Brown with a three-for-five effort, boosting his average, which is now a team-high .400.

One bright spot in the two losses was the play of utility man Brian Kelaher '08. Playing in left field in place of injured tri-captain Ryan Murphy '08, he picked up two hits in each of Saturday's games. Despite Kelaher's performance, Murphy's absence has been noticeable. He had been hitting .320 before going down for the season with a stress fracture in his foot.

"Losing Murph was pretty devastating for us," Reardon said. "He's a pretty vocal guy, somebody that everybody looked up to, and we miss him in terms of his run production, his defense, and also from a leadership point of view."

Game One on Sunday was no better for Bruno. Harvard capitalized on two Brown errors for a five-run fourth inning, which put the Crimson up 8-1. Centerfielder Steve Daniels '09 went two-for-three for the Bears, but the rest of the team managed just three hits in the 9-3 loss.

"We're all are out there every day doing everything that we can, but sometimes in baseball, you'll just kind of find yourself in a rut," Reardon said. "It's frustrating for all of us, because at this point we've all been playing together for eight months, so everyone's individual successes are team successes, and everyone's failures are team failures."

In the final game of the series, Mark Gormley '11 gave Brown a chance on the mound, going six and one-third innings and giving up five runs, but Bruno managed only one hit through the first eight innings of play, a Reardon single to centerfield in the top of the sixth. In the top of the ninth, Reardon got his second hit of the game, and catcher Matt Colantonio '11 drew a walk. Reardon scored on a ground ball to the right side off the bat of tri-captain third baseman Rob Papenhause '09 and first baseman Joe Mellano '10 tripled home Colantonio, but that was as close as the Bears would come, as the Crimson stamped out the comeback and completed the four-game sweep with a 5-2 win.

In Monday's game, Bryant built a 6-2 lead, and Brown could not muster a comeback, though shortstop Matt Nuzzo '09 gave the Bears a boost in the bottom of the seventh. With Reardon on first, Nuzzo clobbered a hanging curveball down the left field line, but the ball got caught in the wind and blew just foul. Later in the at-bat, Nuzzo got a low pitch and made it count this time, hammering it to left center for a two-run homer, to cut the lead to 6-4. He now leads the team with five home runs and 34 RBIs on the year.

In the ninth inning, with the score at 7-4, Papenhause reached base on a single up the middle, one of his three hits on the day, and Reardon came to the plate with two outs and a chance to cut into Bryant's lead. Reardon lined a pitch sharply towards left field, but a leaping catch by the shortstop put an end to Bruno's comeback bid and handed the Bears their fifth consecutive loss in three days.

Brown will host Holy Cross in a doubleheader on Wednesday, then gear up for its final Ivy League games against Yale. Two games will be played in Providence on Saturday, and then the next two will be played in New Haven, Conn. on Sunday. Finally, the Bears will wrap up their season next Wednesday, when they travel to Smithfield, hoping for revenge against Bryant.

Though the team cannot achieve its original goal of repeating as Ivy League champions, the Bears still hope to finish their season on a high note.

"It's great to lay (your goals) out, but the way you do that is by going to the ballpark every day, and trying to figure out a way to win, and you do that on a game-by-game basis," Reardon said. "We're going to go out there every game against Yale this weekend and play as hard as we did against Columbia at the beginning of the season. You have to play as hard as you can, that's really the only goal you can have."


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