WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University baseball team played its first two games since head coach Pete Varney won his 700th game and promptly got wins number 701 and 702 with a sweep of visiting Plymouth State University in the first-ever meeting between the two programs on the diamond. The Judges walked off with a 4-3 win in the opener, and took a 7-2 decision with a big inning late in the game.
In game one, Brandeis trailed, 3-1, headed into the bottom of the sixth inning. They got one run back in the sixth on a tremendous home run to left-center field by rookie Ryan Pocock (Westford, Mass. / Westford), his team-leading fourth of the season.
In the seventh, junior RF Ryan Healy (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon) led off with a double to put the tying run in scoring position. He moved to third on a wild pitch before rookie LF Luke Zeccola (Garden City, N.Y. / Chaminade) walked. Pinch runner Ryan Tettemer (Westfield, Mass./Suffield Acad.) moved to second on a ground ball to third as the Healy was looked back to the base.
The tying run came home on a successful squeeze play, as junior CF Liam O'Connor (Avon, Conn./Avon) beat the throw to first for a single. The Panthers decided to walk Brandeis's leading hitter, rookie SS Nick Falkson (Dedham, Mass./Thayer Acad.), intentionally, but the 2-0 delivery was too far high and outside, getting past the catcher and allowing Tettemer to score the winning run.
Falkson had delivered Brandeis's first run with an RBI double in the first inning, but PSU went ahead with a three-run third. The Panthers scored three unearned runs against rookie Sean O'Neill (Reading, Mass. / Reading Memorial). They took advantage of two blown pick-off attempts, one when a tag was missed as the runner went to second, another when O'Neill's throw went into center field. Paul Reny (South Portland, Maine/South Portland) and Jarek Krajewski (Cranston, R.I./Bishop Hendricken) picked up RBI singles in the frame, while Dave Hall (Groton, Conn. / Fitch) produced a run on a groundout.
O'Neill picked up the win for Brandeis, tossing his sixth start of seven or more innings this season. He allowed nine hits and three unearned runs, striking out four and walking one. He improved to 4-2. Connor MacRae (Newburyport, Mass./Newburyport) took the loss for Plymouth State, surrendering four runs (three earned) on nine hits in 6.1 innings of work to fall to 1-2.
In game two, Brandeis scored single runs in the first and second on RBI by seniors Kyle Brenner (Brookfield, Mass./St. Peter Marian) and Brian Allen (Salem, N.H./Central Catholic School). Those runs were offset by a two-run home run by PSU rookie Ian Grimes (Milford, Mass./Wethersfield, Conn.) in the second, the first round-tripper of his career.
The Judges blew things open with a five-run fifth inning. They sent 10 men to the plate, garnering five hits and a walk and taking advantage of a PSU error to score their runs. Brenner contributed what would prove to be the game-winning run with one-out single, one of four in a row by Brandeis that produced runs.
Brandeis junior Sam Miller (Sudbury, Mass./Lincoln-Sudbury) took care of business from there, retiring six of the last nine PSU hitters on four groundouts and two Ks. Miller tossed his fourth complete game in seven starts this season. He gave up six hits, fanned four and walked just one to improve to 5-2.
Brenner went 3-for-4 with two RBI, while Healy and sophomore catcher Remy Pontes (Arlington, Mass./Arlington) each had two hits. Pontes's double was the Judges' only extra-base hit.
PSU starter Josh LeBlanc (Rindge, N.H./Conant) suffered the loss, falling to 1-2 with 4.1 innings of nine-hit work. He gave up five runs, all earned, and struck out three and walked two before giving way to Ryan Perro (Glen Head, N.Y./North Shore).
Brandeis is back in action on Monday at home against Springfield College at 3 p.m. Plymouth State is at Colby-Sawyer tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.