After an up-and-down start to the year, Brown (7-13, 1-3 Ivy) went on the road to open the Ivy League season against non-division opponents Penn and Columbia.
Brown 8, Penn 5
First on the slate for Bruno was the Quakers (10-12, 3-1), last year’s runners-up in the Lou Gehrig division. The start time was pushed back because of bad weather, but it cleared up enough for the teams to play Saturday afternoon.
After a scoreless first inning, singles by Kevin Guthrie ’16 and Sam Grigo ’18, a walk by Marc Sredojevic ’17 and a double from Brian Ginsberg ’18 gave Brown an early 3-0 lead.
The Bears added to the lead in each of their next frames at bat, thanks to RBIs from Grigo and Josh Huntley ’17 in the top of the third and an RBI double by Noah Shulman ’16 in the top of the fourth, putting Brown on top, 6-0.
Head Coach Grant Achilles praised Grigo’s efforts in the contest.
“He’s getting pitchers’ best, but they’re getting his,” Achilles said. “It’s just been a consistent approach.”
Christian Taugner ’17 was not quite as dominant in his fifth start of the season but still pitched well enough, keeping Bruno ahead. Penn managed three runs in the bottom of the fourth and another run in the fifth, but Brown held on to a 6-4 lead when the junior came out of the game after the fifth inning. Taguner repeatedly stranded Penn base runners, as Penn’s 10 hits resulted in only four earned runs.
Ginsberg jumpstarted Brown’s offense again in the top of the seventh, bringing his RBI total to three with a two-out double.
Dante Bosnic ’18 replaced Taugner on the mound for Bruno and allowed just one run in the bottom of the seventh to secure the Bears’ first Ivy win.
Taugner picked up his third win of the season and kept his ERA at an impressive 2.38 over 34 innings this season.
Grigo totaled three hits and three runs for the Bears. After appearing in just 23 games in his freshman season, Grigo has been one of the more consistent hitters for the Bears thus far this season.
“He’s a very talented hitter,” Achilles said. “He’s been getting pitched very tough, but he’s stuck with it.”
Penn 3, Brown 1
Game two featured a pitchers duel between Reid Anderson ’18 and Penn’s Gabe Kleiman. Neither team managed much offensive success early in the game, as the score remained 0-0 into the later innings.
Penn loaded the bases in the third inning, but Anderson escaped unscathed, inducing an inning-ending groundout.
Brown threatened the very next inning, loading the bases with two outs, but Kleiman shut the rally down by striking out Sredojevic.
Bruno struggled to put the ball in play against Kleiman, who allowed just four hits and racked up seven strikeouts on the day.
The Quakers finally got on the scoreboard with three runs in the sixth inning, thanks to three hits, a walk and a balk by Anderson.
Anderson got out of the inning and was taken out after surrendering six hits and five walks over six innings of work.
Matt Beyer ’19 came out of the bullpen for Bruno and threw two scoreless innings.
Jake Levine ’16 singled to start the eighth inning and moved up to third on two wild pitches before coming home on a single by Guthrie, bringing Brown within two runs. But that run proved to be the only offense Brown could muster.
Ginsberg and Willy Homza ’19 doubled in the top of the ninth, but Levine lined into a double play to end the game.
Anderson fell to 0-3 on the season with the loss. Brown totaled 11 hits but left 10 runners on base.
Columbia 7, Brown 3
Brown rolled to New York to take on the three-time defending Ivy League champs Sunday. The doubleheader start time was pushed back by an hour once again because of poor weather. Austin French ’16 got the start for Brown but was unable to replicate his past two winning performances against UCF and Holy Cross.
French struggled with command early, walking two batters in the first inning, including one with the bases loaded to give Columbia (7-15, 2-2) a 1-0 lead.
The Lions added steadily to their lead, scoring a run in each of French’s five innings on the mound. The Lions capitalized on mistakes and benefited from their own timely hitting, cashing in runs on an error, a wild pitch, nine hits off French and a steal of home, all amounting to a 7-0 lead after five innings.
Robbie Stephens ’19 threw a scoreless sixth inning for Bruno after replacing French.
Brown could not muster a response against Columbia starter Kevin Roy, who held the Bears to just three hits over the first five innings.
Bruno made some noise in the sixth inning, scoring two runs courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Grigo followed by an RBI single by Huntley.
The Bears faced a five-run deficit in their last opportunity at-bat and would only bring the game to within four runs on RBI double by Levine before Columbia’s Zack Bahm shut the door on the comeback effort.
Rob Henry ’17 was the lone bright spot for Brown offensively, going 2-for-3 at the plate and scoring twice.
Columbia 10, Brown 2
In the final contest of the weekend, the Bears sent JJ Sliepka ’19 to the mound to start.
Unlike the first game, it was Brown who opened up an early lead in the top of the second. Huntley started things off with a single before advancing to third on a double from Ginsberg. Both would score on a two-out double by Homza.
The Lions responded with a solo home run in the bottom of the second, but the game got away from the Bears in the bottom of the third. Columbia poured on four runs thanks to two hits, a walk and a balk.
Grant Greeno ’18 came in to pitch the fourth inning, but things continued to go downhill for the Bears, as Columbia stretched the lead to 7-2 after an error by Greeno and a bases loaded walk.
Errors continued to cost Brown runs, as two made on one play by Sredojevic gave two more runs to the Lions in the fifth inning. The Bears made five errors total in the game after making three the game before. The weather conditions Sunday may have contributed to Bruno’s stuggles, according to Achilles.
“The conditions today were less than great with 40-plus miles-per-hour winds,” Achilles said. “Columbia did a better job of hadling that adversity than we did.”
Bruno struggled to string together hits once again, scattering only five over nine innings.
Brown looks to right the ship next weekend in home matchups with Cornell and Princeton.
“There’s definitely a more heightened sense of awareness once you get into any type of conference play or divisional play,” Achilles said. “Not having a conference tournament, you’re fighting for every game and every pitch.”