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Bears swept by Big Green, playoff hopes threatened

The baseball team's chances of making the Ivy League playoffs all but disappeared this weekend after being swept in a four-game series at Dartmouth Sunday and Monday.

The Bears (9-27, 6-10 Ivy) are now third place in the league's Rolfe Division, four games behind Dartmouth (23-10, 10-6) and Yale (22-16, 10-6), with just four conference games left in the season.

"They were clearly better than us," said Head Coach Marek Drabinski. "We didn't hit good enough overall. We had one very well-pitched game"

Bruno fell behind early in game one of the series, as Dartmouth took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning off Brown starting pitcher Matthew Kimball '11. Shortstop Graham Tyler '12 hit a three-run home run to put the Bears on top 3-1 in the top of the fourth inning, but Kimball ran into trouble in the late innings. The Big Green rallied for six more runs in the fourth and fifth innings to beat Brown 7-3.

"It was probably the best stuff (Kimball has) had," Drabinski said. "He had five very good innings. … It was really one bad inning."

The Bears' advantage after Tyler's home run was the only time in the series that they had the lead.

Dartmouth struck early again in game two of the Sunday doubleheader, taking a 5-0 lead in the first inning and adding six more runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth. Third baseman Ryan Zrenda '11 had an RBI single in the fourth inning, and first baseman Cody Slaughter '13 hit a two-run home run in the ninth, but it was not enough, and the Bears fell 11-3.

"We never pitched," Drabinski said.

Monday's first game, the third of the series, was the closest of the weekend, as starting pitcher Heath Mayo '13 found himself in a pitcher's duel against Dartmouth starter Kyle Hendricks. Down to their last strike in the top of the seventh inning, the Bears scored on center fielder John Sheridan's '13 RBI single that tied the game 1-1. But the Big Green responded in the bottom of the inning — first baseman Jason Brooks doubled home the winning run to give Dartmouth the 2-1 victory.

Drabinski praised Mayo's performance and cited the offense's failure to take advantage of a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the first inning as the difference in the game. "We had opportunities," he said. "You've got to score."

The series finale was another blowout. The Big Green struck early yet again, taking a 7-0 lead in the third inning. Sheridan and Tyler each knocked in a run in the fifth inning, and left fielder Jon Suzich '12 drove in a run in the sixth before stealing two bases and scoring on a throwing error, but it was not enough to lift Bruno. Dartmouth won 11-4.

Bruno regained some momentum Tuesday against the University of Rhode Island, taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Zrenda's two-run home run. URI took the lead later and was up 6-4 in the eighth inning, but the Bears rallied for three runs to earn a 7-6 victory.

After their unsuccessful weekend at Dartmouth, Drabinski said the team "showed a little grit and fight."

"I liked the way the guys bounced back," he said.

Yesterday, Brown fell to its eighth defeat in the last nine games, dropping a 5-4 decision at home to Bryant University.

The Bears next play a doubleheader at Yale Friday, followed by another two games at home against Yale the following day. In order for the Bears to make the playoffs, they must win all four games, and Harvard (9-32, 5-11) must sweep Dartmouth. In that case, Brown would be in a three-way tie with Yale and Dartmouth for first place in the Rolfe Division.

"The odds are not in our favor," Drabinski said, but that does not mean he is giving up on the weekend series. "I hope we can go out on a high note," he said. "I'd like to get four solid starts … (to) give the seniors a winning note to go out on and play spoiler a little bit."

The Bears have been plagued by inconsistent pitching all season, Drabinski said. Of the pitchers who were expected to be the team's starters before the season, only Kimball is still in the rotation. "From weekend to weekend, we didn't have a set rotation," he said. "I can honestly say that's a first for me."

The Bears' hitting has also been a consistent problem. "We didn't hit the way that we did last year," Drabinski said. So far, Bruno has hit for a team average of .261 with a .678 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in conference games, down from a .337 team average and .975 OPS last season.

"We put ourselves in this position," he said. "Very rarely do you have guys all coming back and … most of them have underachieving years, and unfortunately that's what we've had."

"It's been a huge disappointment," Drabinski said.

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