The baseball team returned from its spring break West Coast trip to win two of its first four conference games of the season April 1 and 2.
The Bears (4-18, 2-2 Ivy) went 1-7 in their road matchups against University of the Pacific (9-19), Santa Clara University (17-9) and San Jose State University (12-13) March 24-28. Bruno's lone win was a 6-4 victory in the second game of the San Jose State doubleheader, the team's final game in California. Overall, the Bears were outscored 71-29 in the eight-game trip.
The team was "a little disheartened" after losing so many games on the road trip, but co-captain Kevin Carlow '13 said the Bears were encouraged by the one win - their first spring break trip victory in three years. "We started hitting our stride right into the first Ivy weekend," he said.
After the scheduled conference-opening doubleheader at Penn (12-10, 3-1) was rained out March 31, Bruno played its first Ivy games of the season at Columbia (10-14, 3-1) April 1. In game one, the Bears took a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning on first baseman Mike DiBiase's '12 and right fielder Will Marcal's '15 home runs, then added an insurance run on center fielder John Sheridan's '13 RBI double. Starting pitcher Anthony Galan '14 threw a complete game, holding the Lions to three runs while racking up five strikeouts in seven innings of work to give Bruno a 4-3 victory.
Things did not go as well for the Bears in game two. Bruno opened up an early 2-0 lead thanks to designated hitter Cody Slaughter's '13 first-inning RBI single and Sheridan's second-inning RBI groundout. The Bears then added three more via a passed ball and an error in the fourth, but Columbia rallied and tallied a staggering 14 runs. The Bears added another run on Marcal's RBI single in the seventh but Bruno fell 14-6.
In their makeup doubleheader against Penn April 2, the Bears got off to a great start. Bruno sent 15 men to the plate and scored 10 runs in the fourth inning, including a three-run double by shortstop Graham Tyler '12. The Bears scored again in the fifth on DiBiase's solo home run and in the sixth via second baseman J.J. Franco's '14 RBI single. It was more than enough run support for starting pitcher Heath Mayo '13, who took a shutout into the seventh inning and threw a complete game, holding the Quakers to two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts.
Things did not go as well for Bruno in game two. Penn opened the scoring with two runs in the bottom of the first. The Bears responded with three runs in the third as Tyler hit another three-run double and two more in the fourth via left fielder Matt DeRenzi's '14 two-run single to take a 5-3 lead. The Quakers came back and tied the game in the sixth inning before taking a 7-5 lead in the eighth. The Bears' bats were silent in the ninth, giving Penn the victory.
Carlow said the Bears' spring break trip helped them prepare for the first weekend of conference games. "We purposely schedule difficult opponents early on," he said. Carlow noted that most of the non-Ivy schools they faced had "bigger programs" and "deeper teams."
"The nice thing about travel ... it allows your team to really grow as a group," Carlow said.
The Bears then hosted Siena (7-20) in a doubleheader April 4. Bruno dropped both of the games as the Saints won by scores of 9-5 and 8-6.
Despite the losses in California and against Siena, Carlow said the Bears' wins against Columbia and Penn have given the team confidence. "We're going to compete," he said. "We're going to have a chance to win every game from here on out."