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Offense, defense falter as baseball drops four games at home

Bruno loses doubleheaders to both Princeton and Cornell, remains winless in Ivy play

The baseball team’s intraconference struggles continued this weekend, as it fell twice to both Princeton 3-2 and 10-6, and Cornell 4-1 and 6-5, dropping to 0-8 in Ivy games and plummeting further into the standings basement.

After Columbia and Penn overwhelmed the Bears (6-14, 0-8 Ivy) in two doubleheaders last week, the Bears returned to College Hill and grabbed two confidence-building wins Thursday over Siena College (5-23, 5-1 MAAC). But that success did not carry over, as Bruno lost four excruciating games this weekend, falling barely short to their opponents each time.


Saturday: Princeton

Bruno dropped both games to the Tigers (9-14, 4-2), falling to 0-6 in the Ivy League, though it finally got some offensive contributions in the second game.

It was deja vu all over again for Bruno in the first contest. The Bears lost their third straight Ivy game by a 3-2 mark, and the story was much the same as the previous two. The pitching did its job, getting a seven-inning complete game from Anthony Galan ’14 (L, 1-3). Galan gave up three earned runs on 12 hits, walking one and striking out six. But the offense could not find purchase against Princeton’s Michael Fagan, scratching out just four hits and three walks while striking out 11 times.

In game two, the bats finally came alive, but the defense crumbled behind starter Christian Taugner ’17 (L, 1-4) and dug Bruno a hole it could not escape. A pair of RBI singles by Marc Sredojevic ’17 and Jake Levine ’16 in the first and second innings, respectively, gave Bruno a 3-1 lead after the second. Sredojevic had the offensive line of the day, going 1-for-2 with two walks, two RBIs and a run scored.

But in the top of the third, two errors and three singles gave the Tigers four unearned runs, handing them a 5-3 lead. Princeton added an earned run and an unearned run in the fourth, and in the fifth, the Tigers’ ninth run was enough to knock Taugner out of the game. His final line was not pretty: 4.2 innings pitched, nine runs, four earned runs, 10 hits, two walks and five strikeouts.

After Princeton took its 9-3 lead, any hopes of a comeback were extinguished. The Tigers tallied another run off of Taylor Wright ’15 in the sixth, though Bruno did strike back in the home half with three runs. The Bears had a combined 11 hits and walks, their most of any Ivy game so far, but the defense undermined their offensive breakthrough.

Head Coach Marek Drabinski expressed understandable frustration with his team.

“We didn’t hit, we didn’t play our best defense,” he said. “That’s why you get swept.”


Sunday: Cornell

The Bears suffered their fourth straight Ivy doubleheader sweep to open the season Saturday, losing twice to Cornell (13-11, 5-3) despite scoring late in both games.

Apart from specific statlines, a recap of any of Bruno’s other Ivy games would be an accurate description of this doubleheader’s first game. It was a fast-paced pitchers’ duel through six innings, as Bruno starter Dave St. Lawrence ’15 (L, 0-4) had only allowed one hit in a 0-0 dogfight, but Cornell broke through in the top of the seventh with four runs, aided again by a Brown error. The Bears notched one run in the inning’s home half, but it was too little, too late. They scraped out four hits, outhitting the Big Red but never putting together any semblance of a rally.

The afternoon game looked much better for the Bears for a long time, but it ended with the all-too-familiar result of a close loss. Lucas Whitehill ’14 threw well in his start, yielding only three runs, two earned, on five hits and three walks while striking out six. The Bears also had a decent offensive showing, notching five hits, including two from Dan Kerr ’15. Bruno led 4-3 as late as the eighth inning, but the Big Red scored three runs in the eighth off of Max Ritchie ’17 (L, 1-1) to jump ahead by two. Brown nearly came back, scoring one run in the bottom of the ninth and putting a runner on second with one out, but could not bring him home to tie the game.

Drabinski clearly identified the limp bats as the culprit of the team’s struggles.

“You don’t hit, you don’t win. Same as last weekend,” he said.

Though he said the team’s offense was its Achilles’ heel, Drabinski was at a loss to explain why it had such a difficult time.

“There’s not one guy that’s playing up to their capability. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know why it is,” he said. “It’s extremely frustrating right now to say the least. Our pitching’s good enough that we could be at least .500, but when you have trouble scoring runs and when you have trouble stringing two or three hits together, it’s tough to win anything.”

“We’re kind of in a spiral downturn right now that we have to get out of real quick,” he added.

The Bears have a chance to solve their offensive issues Wednesday at the University of Connecticut (13-15, 2-3 AAC), and again next weekend during four games at Harvard (5-18, 1-5).

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