THIBODAUX, La. – Mark Sluys (Gig Harbor, Wash.) evened the score for the Brown baseball team in the top of the ninth, but Nicholls State responded with a walk-off home run in the bottom half of the frame as the Bears fell, 4-1, in Friday's season opener at Ray E. Didier Field.
Brown opens the season and three-game series at 0-1, while Nicholls State moves even at 5-5 overall.
Sluys and fellow junior Sam Grigo (Westbrook, Conn.) both went 2-for-4 to pace the Brown offense. Kyle Knauth led Nicholls State with three hits, including the walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Senior Christian Taugner (Roselle, Ill.) allowed just one run in six innings as the starter, before sophomore Bobby Leyman (North Hampton, N.H.) came in for two hitless innings with four strikeouts. Dante Bosnic (Lutz, Fla.) was handed the loss, while Cole Stapler provided seven scoreless innings for Nicholls as the starter and Adam Tarver earned the win in relief.
After three scoreless innings, Justin Holt opened the scoring in the fourth inning as he doubled down the left field line to give Nicholls the 1-0 lead.
Stapler and reliever Kyle Craft kept the Bears off the board until the ninth frame, when Grigo hit a leadoff single and advanced to third on a groundout and balk. After Sluys drove home the game tying run with a single through the left side, the Bears drew a pair of walks to load the bases, but Tarver picked up the double play to end the inning.
Nicholls State set the stage in the ninth with back-to-back two-out singles, before Knauth hit the walk-off homer over the right field fence to seal the win for the home team.
Nicholls outhit Brown, 12-7.
Brown and Nicholls will continue the three-game set tomorrow at 7 PM.