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RBIs help baseball easily grab win over Quinnipiac

The baseball team jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the third inning of Tuesday's game at Quinnipiac and never looked back, cruising to an 12-5 win. The win saw four players get three hits, as well as four multi-RBI performances, and it also marked the fourth time in seven games that Brown's run production has been in double digits. With the victory, the Bears improve to 12-13 overall.

With runners on second and third and one out in the top of the second inning, right fielder Nick Punal '10 grounded a single to right field to score tri-captain third baseman Rob Papenhause '09 and catcher Matt Colantonio '11, putting Bruno up 2-0.

Center fielder Steve Daniels '09 and left fielder Brian Kelaher '08 each added an RBI single later in the inning to give the Bears a 4-0 cushion.

Daniels and Kelaher gave Brown strong production out of the top two spots in the lineup, both finishing with three hits and two RBI on the day.

Colantonio also had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-3 and scoring three runs. His performance was a continuation of his impressive play last week, when his .500 on-base percentage earned him Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this season.

Starting pitcher Conor Burke '11 pitched two scoreless innings to hold the lead for the Bears, who added to the lead in the top of the third.

Brown got runners on first and second with one out, and the bottom of the order came up big. Punal drove the ball the opposite way for a double to left center field, scoring Papenhause.

"Nick's big strength is being able to hit the ball to left and left center," said Head Coach Marek Drabinski. "And when you can hit the other way with consistency, you're going to hit for a high average."

After his 2-for-4, 3-RBI performance on Tuesday, Punal, who was originally recruited as a pitcher, now ranks second on the team with a .361 batting average and 22 RBI. Last year, Punal started just 10 games and had a batting average of .204. This year, though, he has relished his starting role.

"A lot of the time, I would sit on the bench for six innings and then come in as a defensive replacement, and it's hard to sit for six innings and then expect to be loose," Punal said. "When you start a game, and take batting practice on the field and get those at-bats, you feel more energized."

Despite Punal's big numbers, Drabinski plans to keep him in the seventh spot in the lineup.

"We want to have some balance in our lineup, so we like him where he is right now," Drabinski said.

Punal also likes his place in the lineup, as it gives him frequent opportunities to hit with men on base.

"A lot of the time when I get up, there are a lot of people on base," Punal said. "Since they don't want to walk me to load the bases, they have to throw me a good pitch to hit."

Second baseman Ryan Zrenda '11 hit an infield single to score Colantonio from third. The hit was one of three on the day for Zrenda, who also scored three runs while driving in two. First baseman J.J. Eno '08, batting ninth, followed with an RBI single to right field, and Zrenda later came around to score on Daniels' ground ball to the right to expand the lead to 8-0.

The Bobcats began to chip away at the lead in the fourth and fifth innings, scoring two runs off of reliever Josh Feit '11. Feit has struggled with his control lately, and Tuesday was no exception. When Feit walked four batters and threw a wild pitch while allowing two runs in two and two-thirds innings of work.

In the sixth inning, Conor Reardon '08 delivered a two-out RBI single to make the score 9-2, and shortstop Matt Nuzzo '09 added a solo home run in the eighth. After hitting only three home runs in his first two collegiate seasons and going without a home run in this season's first 18 games, Nuzzo has exploded for four round-trippers in the team's last seven games.

"In the first 10 to 15 games, he wasn't ... getting through with his hips, so he was just swinging with the upper half of his body. Now he's getting his lower body into his swing, and that's given him a lot more power," Drabinski said.

Nuzzo currently leads the team with four homers, 25 RBI and 23 runs scored this season. Quinnipiac threatened to make a comeback when Tyler Turgeon launched a three-run homer to right field off Mark Gormley '11, cutting Brown's lead to 10-5 with one out in the bottom of the eighth. But Peter Moskal '08 came on in relief of Gormley and got the next two batters out to end the inning.

The Bears added two more runs in the top of the ninth and Moskal came back out to pitch the bottom of the inning. After walking the lead-off batter, Moskal struck out the next two Bobcats. With Moskal on a strict pitch-count limit, tri-captain Rob Hallberg '08 came on to record the final out when the first batter he faced popped up to Eno to end the game.

Brown will return to the field this Saturday for a two-day, four-game series against Ivy opponent Dartmouth.



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