Bears Split With URI in Home Opener
April 2, 2008
Providence, RI - A blustery day at Murray Stadium led to plenty of big flies as the Brown baseball team (8-12) split a doubleheader in its home opener against Rhode Island (10-15). Freshmen Conor Burke (Andover, MA) and Matthew Kimball (Nashville, TN) combined to hold the Rams to four hits in an 11-3 Bear victory in the first game, as the Brown offense exploded for 16 hits, including home runs by freshman Ryan Zrenda (Old Lyme, CT) and junior Matt Nuzzo (Everett, MA). However, the tide turned completely in game two, as URI pitchers held the hosts to four hits, with the only Brown runs coming on home runs by juniors Steve Daniels (Fox Point, WI) and Robert Papenhause (Hillsborough, CA) in an 8-2 loss.
The Bears' two rookie right-handers nearly split the pitching duties evenly in game one. Burke worked 3.2 innings in his first collegiate start, allowing two runs on just two hits and four walks, striking out three. Kimball took over with two outs in the fourth and men on first and second, striking out the first batter he faced to end the inning before working the final three frames. In 3.1 innings of work, he allowed just one unearned run on two hits and one walk, striking out one and needing just 40 pitches. Kimball earned his first career win in the outing.
Offensively, the Bears put the pedal to the floor from the get-go, putting crooked numbers on the board in four of the first five innings. In all four of those innings, the first two batters to come up wound up scoring. Sophomore right fielder Nick Puñal (Palm Beach, FL) and senior left fielder Ryan Murphy (Mantoloking, NJ) both went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Third baseman Papenhause also had a solid game, going 2-for-3 with a walk, scoring once and driving in two runs. Zrenda's lone hit was a two-run home run down the left field line in the second, his first career home run. Nuzzo's blast led off the bottom of the sixth, clearing the fence in center field.
In game two, URI freshman lefty Chris Pickering led an effort that shut down the Bears' offense. Pickering went four-plus innings, allowing just three hits and one walk, striking out four. His lone missteps came against Daniels and Papenhause, as the pair of Bears blasted solo shots to left-center and right field, respectively, to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth. URI relievers Luke Demko and Tim Boyce combined for three innings of shutout relief, with Demko picking up the win.
Brown sophomore Rob Wilcox (Columbia, SC) earned the game two start, and he cruised through the first three innings before allowing a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. He left the game after getting the leadoff batter in the fifth to ground out. Senior Peter Moskal (Glastonbury, CT) entered and allowed a home run, walk, and a single that drove in the second batter, who had moved to third on a stolen base and error. He took the loss. Freshman Mark Gormley (Milton, MA) allowed one inherited runner to score before getting out of the fifth, then was followed by senior Rob Hallberg (River Edge, NJ), who allowed three runs, two earned, in the sixth. Sophomore Matt Boylan (Danvers, MA) threw a scoreless seventh to end the game.
The four home runs on the day more than doubled the Bears' team total, which was three entering the day. Seven different players have hit the team's seven homers.
Brown will play its first home Ivy weekend on Saturday and Sunday, hosing Cornell and Princeton, respectively. Both doubleheaders will start at noon.