Western New England racks up 20 hits over the two games
NORTHBOROUGH, Mass. (March 11, 2018) – The Western New England University baseball team picked up its first two wins of the 2018 campaign with a doubleheader sweep of Brandeis College on Sunday afternoon at the New England Baseball Complex.
Game 1 - Western New England 12, Brandeis 4
• Junior catcher Brian Valeriano (Stratford, Conn.) turned in a monster performance at the plate in the opener, as he hit the first two home runs of his career and recorded six RBI.
• Sophomore first baseman Zac Nussbaum (Bridgewater, Mass.) went 2-for-3 with a walk, a home run and two RBI, while junior Aaron Rios (Stratford, Conn.) also drove in two runs.
• Sophomore Victor Oppenheimer (West Hills, Calif.) and freshmen Dan Frey (Ipswich, Mass.) and Isaac Fossas (Dudley, Mass.) all homered for the Judges.
After Oppenheim staked Brandeis to an early lead with a two-run shot to left field in the bottom of the first, Valeriano tied the contest with a two-run homer of his own to left center in the top of the second.
Western New England took the lead for good in the third, as senior Jared Rosenblatt (Avon, Conn.) and Rios both recorded RBI singles. Another RBI single off the bat of junior Erik Lacaire (Worcester, Mass.) in the fourth ended Brandeis sophomore right-hander Albert Gutierrez's (Miami, Fla.) outing, as the Golden Bears opened up a 5-2 advantage.
Brandeis pulled back to within a run (5-4) with the help of solo homers from Frey and Fossas in the fourth, but the Judges would get no closer.
Western New England scored once in the fifth before breaking the game open with six more runs in the sixth.
Game 2 - Western New England 7, Brandeis 3 (8 Innings)
• Junior shortstop Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.) accounted for half of Western New England's hits in game two, as he went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBI.
• Junior outfielder Joe Cassella (Wallingford, Conn.) went 2-for-2 with two RBI, while Nussbaum drove in two runs as well.
• Fossas and freshman Tommy Sand (South Windsor, Conn.) recorded two hits each for the Judges.
The Golden Bears struck first in game two, as Loparco recorded an RBI single in the top of the first inning, scoring sophomore Kevin Johnson (Waterford, Conn.).
Brandeis tied the game in the bottom of the second on an RBI groundout by sophomore Brian Shaw (Conway, Mass.) before Western New England reclaimed a 2-1 edge in the third when Nussbaum doubled down the left field line, allowing Lacaire to cross the plate.
The Judges took their first lead with a pair of runs in the fourth on RBI singles by Sand and Weisse, but a Nussbaum RBI groundout in the fifth evened the score at 3-3.
Western New England had an opportunity to push across the go-ahead run in the seventh, as Cassella led off with a pinch-hit single, before moving up to second base on a sacrifice and stealing third. He was stranded there, however, as junior Daniel Schupper (Villanova, Pa.) came on in relief for the Judges and recorded the final two outs of the frame.
The Golden Bears had another chance to put runs on the board in the eighth, and this time they capitalized. After the first three batters reached base with a hit (Rosenblatt), a walk (Ben LaCroix), and an error (Rios), Rosenblatt was retired at home plate on a fielder's choice. Cassella came up next and delivered a two-run single to left field, however, and Johnson followed with a sacrifice fly before Loparco capped the scoring with an RBI double down the left field line.
Senior right-hander Cody Kozin (Storrs, Conn.) came on for the Golden Bears to get the final three outs as Western New England completed the doubleheader sweep.
• After being limited to seven combined hits over their first two games of the season, the Golden Bears broke out for 20 hits during Sunday's doubleheader.
• Making his Western New England debut, sophomore lefthander Ryan Searles (Norwalk, Conn.) earned the win in game two with 1.1 scoreless frames of relief.
Western New England (2-2) will be back in action on Saturday, March 17, when the Golden Bears open an eight-game trip at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational against Stockton. Brandeis (1-5) returns home to host Bridgewater State on Tuesday.