May 5, 2007

Box Score

Providence, RI - For the first time in the history of the program, the Brown baseball team is the Ivy League Champion, thanks to a sweep of Penn by scores of 1-0 and 20-6 on Saturday at Murray Stadium. In Game One, junior Jeff Dietz (Altamonte Springs, FL) pitched a three-hitter, striking out 10 batters and driving in the game's only run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning. In the second game, the Bears got off to a hot start, as sophomore Robert Papenhause (Hillsborough, CA) and senior tri-captain Devin Thomas (Gainesville, FL) blasted grand slams in the first and second innings, respectively, to put the game out of reach barely after it had started. Thomas' blast, his 15th of the year, broke Brown's single-season record, previously held by John King '79.

"This is an incredible feeling," said Brown Head Coach Marek Drabinski. "I'm happy for all the players, especially the seniors, who've worked so hard for four years. They came so close freshman and sophomore year. It's taken a long time for me and I feel like a burden's been lifted off my shoulders. It's unbelievable."

Earlier in the week, Dietz had said he was not going to come out of game one, and he made good on his promise with his sixth complete game of the year and first over nine innings. The right-hander threw just 109 pitches to out-duel Penn ace Todd Roth, who also threw a complete game, allowing six hits and three walks over eight innings. With the win, Dietz moved to 7-3 on the season and dropped his ERA to 3.12.

The Bears' only run came in the bottom of the eighth. Sophomore Steve Daniels (Fox Point, WI) led the inning off with a four-pitch walk. He then stole second for his 25th steal of the year, advancing to third when shortstop William Gordon could not handle catcher Jeff Cellucci's throw. Roth buckled down, striking out junior Ryan Murphy (Mantoloking, NJ) before intentionally walking Thomas. Dietz then came up, and although he hit what seemed like a harmless foul pop-up that was caught by Penn second baseman Steve Gable. Looking to get a run across, Drabinski sent Daniels home after the catch, and the speedy soph easily beat a weak throw from Gable for the game's only run.

Penn put the winning run on second with two out in the top of the ninth, but Dietz dramatically ended the game with a strikeout of Alex Nwaka, Penn's top hitter entering the game.

In stark contrast to the nail-biter that opened the day, the second game was all but decided in the first two innings, as the Bears jumped out to a 9-0 lead. Sophomore Matt Nuzzo (Everett, MA) brought Murphy home for the first run of the game on a two-out RBI single to right, extending his hitting streak to 19 games. Two batters later, Papenhause drove a ball to right field that got caught in the heavy winds out to that direction, carrying over the wall for a grand slam.

In the second, the first three batters of the inning reached base. Thomas then came up and drilled a missle over the right-center field wall. Two outs and two hits later, Penn starter Jim Birmingham, who had a 3.15 ERA in Ivy play, was pulled. The Bears added two in the third, four in the sixth, one in the seventh and four in the eighth for their round total of 20.

Senior James Cramphin (Simsbury, CT) breezed through the first five innings before tiring in the sixth. He struck out 12 batters, picking up his fifth win of the year. Junior Peter Moskal (Glastonbury, CT) came on in relief, and after allowing two inherited runners to score en route to escaping the jam in the sixth, went on to pitch into the eighth, allowing just one baserunner. Senior Ethan Silverstein (Woodbridge, CT) threw the final two outs of the eighth, then junior Rob Hallberg (River Edge, NJ) came on and dominated in the ninth, striking out all three batters he faced before the team stormed the field to the triumphant horns of "Gonna Fly Now," the theme from Rocky.

With the wins, Brown became the first team to qualify for the 2007 NCAA Regionals, which will be held over the first four days of June. The Bears will not find out where they will play until the NCAA Selection Show on May 28. This will be Brown's first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, now in its 61st year.