Judges win one, lose one, advance in ECAC tourney
Brandeis defeated Rivier College, 7-5, but fell to Endicott, 6-1The Brandeis softball team, top-seeded in the 2012 ECAC Division III New England Tournament, will have to come through the elimination bracket to win their second title in team history. The Judges defeated fifth-seed Rivier College, 7-5, in their opener today, but bowed to No. 3 seed Endicott, 6-1, later in the day. Brandeis will take on No. 7 seed Simmons College at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Sunday) in an elimination game. The winner of that contest will face Endicott in the championship round at 1 p.m.
GAME 1: BRANDEIS 7, RIVIER 5
In the first game of the day, Brandeis jumped out to a 5-0 lead after four innings and extended it to 7-1 through six before holding off a late Rivier rally to escape with a 7-5 win.
The Judges opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when center fielder Lauren Porcaro ‘12 hit an infield single to bring home third baseman Brittany Grimm ‘12, who had hit a one-out double. Brandeis had Rivier hurler Lauren Beatty on the ropes early, but the Judges left the bases loaded in the first and third innings, while Grimm lined into an inning-ending double play in the second.
Brandeis broke through in the fourth, scoring four runs on just two hits, with only one ball leaving the infield. Beatty threw three walks in the inning, including a lead-off pass to right fielder Casey Ducinski ‘13. First baseman Amanda Genovese ‘15 followed with a bunt single, then beat the Raider shortstop to second base on a slow roller by Grimm. Beatty then issued bases-loaded walks to shortstop Marianne Specker and Porcaro to drive in runs before designated player Anya Kamber ‘15 singled to right for one more. Beatty retired the next three hitters, but also fired a wild pitch that allowed Specker to score Brandeis' fifth run of the game.
Rivier finally broke through in the sixth on a solo home run by junior catcher Marissa Mercier off Brandeis reliever Melissa Nolan. It was Mercier's 10th of the season. Brandeis got two back in the bottom of the inning when Porcaro walked, stole second and third and scored on an illegal pitch by Raider pitcher Hillary Tarr. Nolan drove in Kamber, who also walked and had a steal, to make the game 7-1.
Rivier made the game interesting in the top of the seventh, when Mercier's infield single scored Nicole Peacock, who had walked and advanced all the way to third on a single wild pitch. Two batters later, Karen Waterman took Nolan deep for a three-run shot, cutting the lead to 7-5, but Brandeis’ Caroline Miller ‘12 got the final out.
Offensively, Brandeis got 10 of their 12 hits from the top five batters in the order, led by Kamber's 3-for-3 performance and Porcaro, who reached base in all four player appearances, going 2-for-2 with two walks and two RBIs. Rivier was paced by Mercier, who went 4-for-4 with her two-run homer, and Waterman, who drove in a game-high three runs with her late blast.
Miller picked up the win to improve to 15-7 on the season, just the seventh 15-win season in school history. She tossed 4.1 innings, allowing four hits and striking out four. Beatty suffered just her third loss of the season, falling to 11-3, allowing 11 hits and seven earned runs over 5.1 innings. She walked five and struck out three.
GAME TWO: ENDICOTT 6, BRANDEIS 1
Two Endicott homers -- their fifth and sixth of the day -- and a fine pitching performance from Nell O'Connor put the Gulls into tomorrow's championship round.
Endicott opened the scoring with two runs in the first inning. Designated player Colleen Martin tripled to left field to knock in 2B Jesse Bilafer. Martin then scored on a wild pitch.
Brandeis got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame. Amanda Genovese doubled to lead off the inning and then stole third, her team-high 18th swipe of the season. Grimm followed with a lineout to center field that allowed Genovese to tag up and score. The RBI was Grimm's 100th of her career, making her the seventh player in school history to reach that plateau. A hit by Porcaro and an error on a ball hit by Kamber put Brandeis in good position to tie the game, but O'Connor got a grounder to first to end the inning.
The Gulls gave O'Connor some more breathing room with a pair of homers, Byrne Katz's second of the day to lead off the fourth and a two-run job by Alexandra Moise in the top of the fifth. Pinch runner Katelyn Soja executed a double steal of home in the sixth to round out the scoring.
O'Connor held Brandeis to five hits and one earned run in seven innings. She improved to 10-6 by striking out five and walking just two. Brandeis pitcher Caroline Miller fell to 15-8 on the season after allowing eight hits and five earned runs in five innings. Miller struck out 10 Endicott hitters, moving her within three of Brandeis’ single-season record with 160 on the campaign.
Offensively, in addition the two home runs, Bilafer had a fine game with three hits, including a double, and two runs scored. She also provided terrific defense for the Gulls at second base. For the Judges, Genovese and Porcaro provided four of the team's five hits.
Brandeis fell to 25-17 with the loss, while Endicott moves to 25-17-1 and needs just one win tomorrow to take home the ECAC crown.