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Baseball sweeps Cornell, falters against Princeton in Ivy home openers

Henry ’17 leads Bruno in late-inning comeback versus Big Red, pitching struggles against Tigers

The baseball team continued nondivision play against Cornell and Princeton at home over the weekend, sweeping the Big Red (8-12, 2-3) but suffering a pair of defeats to the Tigers (13-13, 6-2).

Brown 4, Cornell 2

As usual, Brown (9-15, 3-5 Ivy) started the weekend off by sending Christian Taugner ’17 to the mound, this time to duel against Cornell starter Paul Balestrieri.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the third inning, where the Bears took the lead thanks to three base hits. Jake Levine ’16 drove in Marc Sredojevic ’17 with a two-out single to right field to snap the tie.

Taugner continued to baffle Cornell hitters as the game progressed, with the exception of a home run that tied the game up at one. But Taugner would not be phased, striking out five of the next six batters and four on three pitches.

Rob Henry ’17 scored on a Sam Grigo ’18 squeeze bunt, facilitated in part by Balestrieri bobbling a Levine bunt. To make matters worse for the Big Red, Balestrieri misplayed the throw to first once again, allowing Grigo to move up to second.

The team works on similar situations in practice, said Head Coach Grant Achilles. “Their pitcher was a tough arm and someone who induces a lot of ground balls,” he added. “We wanted to give ourselves the best chance to cause some havoc, and Sam did a great job with it.”

Brown added two insurance runs in the sixth on a double from Henry.

Taugner needed just three outs in the seventh with a three-run lead, but the team put a scare into the Bruno faithful in attendance. Cornell was down to its last out but countered with two singles. The following at bat, a ground ball to Brian Ginsberg ’18 at third base, was handled with no problem, but the throw to first skipped in the dirt and away from Kevin Guthrie ’16, allowing a run to score and the potentially tying run to advance to second.

But Taugner didn’t let things go any further than that, inducing a pop-out to end the game.

The junior struck out 10 in his complete game to bring his record to 4-1 with a 2.20 earned run average.

Brown 7, Cornell 6

Game two saw much more scoring right away, as the Big Red put up three runs on four hits in the first inning off Brown starter Reid Anderson ’18.

Anderson eventually settled in and Bruno began to climb its way back in the game, pulling within 3-2 after three innings.

But Anderson got into more trouble in the fourth inning, giving up a run off a pair of singles and two walks. Matt Beyer ’19 entered the game in relief in the fifth, but didn’t last long after walking the bases loaded with no outs.

Dante Bosnic ’18 replaced Beyer and eventually worked out of the inning, but not before allowing two of the runners to score on a sacrifice fly and a single, which brought Cornell’s lead to 6-2.

The next two innings were scoreless for both teams. But the tides turned as Cornell starter Tim Willittes was pulled after allowing the first two batters to reach in the eighth.

Josh Huntley ’17 drove in the first run with a single to left. Sredojevic loaded the bases for Tim McKeithan ’16. The moment wasn’t too big for the Bears’ ninth hitter, as he cashed in his second double of the afternoon to drive in two runs and bring Bruno within one.

Henry came to bat with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second. With the infield drawn in, he roped a soft line drive right over second base, scoring both runners and putting Brown ahead with the team’s fifth base hit of the inning.

With the one-run lead, Henry came in from center field to pitch for the save opportunity in the top of the ninth. The stunned Big Red had no answer for Henry on the mound either, as he drew three groundouts to end the game.

The team believes it can hit its way back into any game, Achilles said.

“All it takes is a couple of quality at-bats to get things going,” he added. “And it’s contagious.”

Princeton 11, Brown 9

Brown welcomed Princeton Sunday to complete play against the Lou Gehrig Division.

Princeton got out to a hot start, putting up four runs in both of the first two innings. Austin French ’16 got the start for Bruno and struggled with his command, walking the bases loaded in the first inning.

The Bears clawed their way back in the second inning by scoring three runs, capitalizing off an error by Princeton’s centerfielder. A stiff wind blew out to right field, causing problems for outfielders of both teams and contributing to several home runs, including a monster shot from Grigo the next inning to put the Bears within two.

The scoring settled down until the sixth when Brown answered two Princeton runs with an RBI double from Huntley.

Bruno entered the final inning trailing 11-7 but pushed across two runs on singles from Sredojevic and McKeithan. The Bears had the bases loaded and the tying run on second with two outs when a pitch got behind Princeton catcher Andrew Christie. Noah Shulman ’16 took off for home but was tagged out by the pitcher for the final out of the game.

Princeton 25, Brown 7

The weekend’s final game could not have gone much worse for the Bears, as Princeton unloaded 25 hits and put the game well out of reach early.

JJ Sliepka ’19 got the start for Brown but lasted only 1.1 innings. The Tigers used a monster second inning to go up 11-2, batting around and scoring eight runs off seven hits and two errors. 

With strain on the pitching staff, Grigo and Henry were both put in to throw and eat up innings later in the game. Grigo went 2.2 innings, striking out three and giving up three runs, all unearned. With five errors, including two in the outfield, just 11 of Princeton’s runs were earned. Shulman and Grigo had solo home runs in the eighth, but Princeton scored nine runs in the final two innings to bring its total to 25.

Brown moves into division play next weekend, facing Dartmouth in a pair of doubleheaders. The Bears will need to finish ahead of the Big Green, Harvard and Yale in the standings to make the conference championship series. Without a single team with a winning record, the league still remains wide open for the taking. Either through solid pitching or outslugging other teams, the Bears have been able to win in many different ways so far this season, which should provide valuable experience later, Achilles said.

“The confidence that we’ve shown at times and the great energy we’ve had, if we can keep that consistent, I think we’ve got as good a chance as anybody of taking our side of the division,” he added.


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