June 2, 2007

Brown Hangs Tough With Texas, But Falls 8-2 in First Game of NCAA Regional

June 2, 2007

Box Score

Round Rock, TX - For almost three innings, the Brown baseball team (27-20) held a 2-1 lead over the fourth seed in the NCAA Tournament, Texas (45-15). However, the Longhorns rallied in the sixth to retake the lead off of starting pitcher Jeff Dietz (Altamonte Springs, FL), eventually taking an 8-2 victory while the Bears earned the respect of a near capacity crowd of 9,230 at Dell Diamond. With the loss, the Bears will play Wake Forest (33-28), which lost to UC Irvine, 13-0, at 12 p.m. CT on Saturday in the first elimination game of the Regional.

"We had a real good ballgame going for seven innings or so," said Brown Head Coach Marek Drabinski. "I'm extremely proud of our guys for their effort, and hopefully we can come out tomorrow and bring that same intensity we did tonight. We know how good Texas is and I thought we had a chance for a while. We'll be ready to go tomorrow."

Dietz allowed five earned runs on 14 hits and four walks, striking out three. That hit total is the most the junior has given up all season, and the most runs he has given up in six starts (4/21 vs. Harvard - seven runs). Still, Dietz, who left the field to a standing ovation from the mostly burnt orange and white-clad fans in attendance, gutted his way through seven-plus innings, making big pitch after big pitch with runners on base and ending the game with 131 pitches thrown.

"[Dietz] pitched as tough as he's pitched this year," Drabinski said. "There are no easy outs in the Texas lineup, and every time he needed to make a big pitch with runners on base, he did it. He left everything he had on the field."

Down 1-0 after a first-inning home run by Texas' Kyle Russell, the nation's top home run hitter, the Bears rallied in the fourth, taking a 2-1 lead. After flyouts by senior catcher Devin Thomas (Gainesville, FL) and Dietz to start the inning, sophomore Matt Nuzzo (Everett, MA) and Bryan Tews (Park Ridge, IL) both singled. Sophomore Robert Papenhause (Hillsborough, CA) then singled to center, allowing Nuzzo just enough time to come home and slide in front of the catcher, who had to step back to catch the throw. Sophomore Dan Shapiro (Basking Ridge, NJ) singled to left next, easily bringing in Tews from third. The next batter, junior Brian Kelaher (Farmington, CT) hit another single to center, similar to Papenhause's. However, Texas' Nick Peoples came up firing this time, getting the throw to the plate just in time to retire Papenhause at home.

Dietz settled down some after the first-inning home run, allowing baserunners in each inning but not allowing any runs until the sixth. In that frame, third baseman Bradley Suttle led off with a double to left. Dietz was able to get a fly out and a strikeout, but shortstop Chase Fuller pulled an 0-1 pitch to left center, barely lifting it over the wall 375 feet away to give Texas a 3-2 lead.

Texas added one more in the seventh, putting runners on second and third with one out, but Dietz got a groundout to third, then after an intentional walk, a groundout to short to end the threat. On the Longhorns' end, lefty Joseph Krebs relieved Russell after four innings, pitching 3.1 innings of scoreless ball, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out seven. He gave way to closer Randy Boone, who struck out five of the seven hitters he faced.

Dietz finally tired in the eighth, allowing a single before giving way to junior Rob Hallberg (River Edge, NJ). The Bears' closer had some trouble with the Longhorns, allowing two hits and two walks, scoring three runs, two earned, plus the inherited runner from Dietz.

Meanwhile, the Bears missed out on a pair of great opportunities to score in the first two innings. In the first, a Texas error and a bunt single by junior Ryan Murphy (Mantoloking, NJ) put two runners on with no outs. After Texas starter James Russell went to 3-0 on Thomas, Texas Head Coach Augie Garrido visited the mound. Thomas fouled out on the next pitch, and after a fly-out to right field, Murphy was picked off at first to end the inning.

In the second, Nuzzo led off with a single. However, the next batter, Tews, lined out to center field with Nuzzo running on a hit-and-run, allowing the Longhorns to double-up Nuzzo at first.

Murphy, Nuzzo, and Papenhause led the Brown offense with two hits apiece, with Papenhause also reaching after being hit by a pitch. The crowd of 9,230 was more than double the largest crowd the Bears had played in front of this season.