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Baseball snaps losing streak in 1-2 weekend at Central Florida

Offensive outburst led by Grigo ’18, Levine ’16 powers Bears to win after pair of late-inning defeats

Brown continued its season-opening non-conference slate with a weekend trip to the Sunshine State for a three-game series against Central Florida (12-9).

Brown 0, UCF 2

The Bears (2-8) opened the weekend with ace Christian Taugner ’17 on the mound for the third straight weekend. Taugner went toe-to-toe with UCF starter Cre Finfrock. The two hurlers put on a show as the contest remained scoreless into the late innings.

Coming off a four-loss weekend against Marshall, the Bears had gone 19 innings without a run after being shutout in the final two games of the series. Brown’s woes at the plate continued against Finfrock, as it managed just two hits and struck out eight times in seven innings.

Taugner gave up seven hits over seven innings but managed to keep the Knights off the scoreboard and Brown in the game.

He came out of the game in the eighth after giving up a walk and a single to open the inning and was replaced by Dante Bosnic ’18. Two runners reached base on fielder’s choices, and two more knocked RBI singles to put UCF on top.

Kevin Guthrie ’16 singled for Brown in the top of the ninth with one out, but UCF’s Trent Thompson recovered to retire the side and secure the win.

Though Taugner was charged with his first loss of the season, his ERA sits at 1.64 after three starts.

Head Coach Grant Achilles credited Taugner for attacking hitters and “being able to locate any pitch in any count” in his early-season starts.

“When you have pitchers throwing as many strikes as he has, it keeps your defense locked in too,” he added.

Brown 4, UCF 6

Brown was originally scheduled to play Bradley Saturday afternoon, but the game was cancelled due to inclement weather. Instead, the Bears faced UCF once again Saturday night.

UCF put up three runs on four hits in the second inning off starter Reid Anderson ’18. Anderson got out of a bases-loaded jam to minimize the damage but did not return to start the third inning.

The Bears climbed back into the game with three runs in the fourth, snapping their scoreless streak at 31 innings. Jake Levine ’16 walked to start the inning and scored on a single from Sam Grigo ’18. Two batters later, Josh Huntley ’17 singled to right field to knock in Grigo and Guthrie. Bruno totaled eight hits, including three from shortstop Tim McKeithan ’16.

Bobby Leyman ’19 came in to replace Anderson on the mound for Bruno. Leyman was named the Ivy League Freshman of the Week for tossing six no-hit innings in his debut against Marshall last week and followed with another impressive outing in relief, holding the Knights scoreless over the next five innings.

The dagger came in the bottom of the eighth in the form of a three-run home run by UCF’s Ryan Crile. JJ Sliepka ’19 entered the game to replace Leyman and allowed two hits before Crile broke the tie with one swing. Sliepka struck out the side in the inning, but the damage was done.

Brown managed a run in the ninth, but its comeback effort was cut short for a second straight game.

Brown 15, UCF 5

The series finale was a departure from the close, low-scoring contests of the first two nights.

The Bears entered the third inning with a 2-1 lead thanks to a two-run home run by Grigo. After Noah Shulman ’16 and Guthrie were both hit by pitches, Brown’s offense found the spark it had been missing over the previous six games.

Singles from Grigo and Huntley knocked UCF starting pitcher Andrew Deramo out of the game after giving up two runs in 1.1 innings.

Brown tacked on four more runs courtesy of singles by Willy Homza ’19 and Brian Ginsberg ’18 and a groundout from Levine to extend the lead to five.

The Bears weren’t done at the plate, racking up four more runs in the fifth inning, including a three-run home run from Levine.

Austin French ’16 got the start for Brown on the mound and was rock solid, letting up four runs over 6.1 innings of work. The Bears were shut out in each of his previous starts, but thanks to solid run support, the senior earned his first win of the season.

Grigo was the star for Brown offensively, going 4-for-5 with two home runs and six RBI. Levine also homered twice and had five RBI of his own. The Bears totaled 16 hits on the day — by far a season high — to go along with their 15 runs.

Achilles said that the game was huge for a team that had struggled to string together hits previously in its campaign.

“Our guys have been putting together really good at-bats, and it’s been frustrating to not see that result,” he said. “It’s been good for the process to stay steady and for our guys to get that bolt of energy from our offensive outburst today.”

After three consecutive weekends spent far from home, Brown won’t leave the Northeast again for the rest of the regular season. A 2-8 record may not reflect how many close games the team has been in during its long stretch of road games, Achilles said. Five of the Bears’ eight losses were by two or fewer runs.

“Being able to stay in a tense situation where the game’s on the line with every pitch — our guys have done that, and they’ve done that against good teams on the road,” Achilles said. “Once we’ve finished our pre-Ivy schedule next week, I think our guys have literally been in any situation they can be in.”

Bruno will finally play its first home game Saturday, taking on Holy Cross in a doubleheader. The teams will play again at Holy Cross Sunday.


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