March 8, 2008
Gainesville, FL - After a stunning 11-2 win in the first game of its Saturday doubleheader, the Brown baseball team (3-3) nearly pulled off an amazing sweep of Florida (9-3), forcing the Gators to come from five runs behind to take an 8-7 win in the nightcap at McKethan Stadium in front of 2,778 fans. Sophomore Will Weidig (Katy, TX) was phenomenal in the opener, allowing just two runs in eight innings, striking out seven batters, while freshman catcher Matt Colantonio (Garden City, NY) and junior third baseman Robert Papenhause (Hillsborough, CA) led the Bears at the plate in game two.
A combination of Weidig's solid outing on the mound and some timely hitting at the plate led the Bears to their first-ever win over a Southeast Conference opponent in the first game. The sophomore ace allowed just five hits and two walks, with three of the hits and one walk coming in one inning.
With the game scoreless after three, the Bears jumped ahead in the fourth, going on to score in five of the next six innings. Junior Ryan Murphy (Mantoloking, NJ) led off with a bunt single, advancing to third on a wild pitch and passed ball before scoring on a single through the right side by senior Conor Reardon (Branford, Conn.). In the next inning, senior first baseman J.J. Eno (Kahului, HI) doubled home Colantonio to double the lead.
However, the key play at the plate came in the sixth. Murphy again led off with a single, moving over on junior shortstop Matt Nuzzo's (Everett, MA) sacrifice bunt. Reardon then walked, setting the stage for sophomore Nick Puñal (Palm Beach, FL), who hit his first career home run and the Bears' first home run of the season to put the Bears up 5-0. The Gators got two runs in the bottom of that inning, signaling that Weidig may have been tiring, but the right-hander soldiered through two more innings as the Bears tacked on four runs in the eighth and two in the ninth for the 11-2 final. Senior Anthony Vita (West Babylon, NY) closed the game, striking out two in a scoreless ninth inning.
It looked as though the Bears may pull out the sweep in game two, as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Reardon drove in Murphy for the Bears' first run in the third, then Eno and junior center fielder Steve Daniels (Fox Point, WI) drove in Puñal and Colantonio in the fourth with singles.
Senior Alex Silverman (Wilmington, NC) got the start in the nightcap, breaking the career high he set last week with eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings. He allowed six hits and no walks, giving up four runs, three earned. The Gators got to him for runs in the fourth and fifth to make it a one-run game, but the Bears hit back, hard, with four runs in the sixth.
Nuzzo brought in Eno for the first run on a bases-loaded single to center. After one out, Papenhause singled to the left-center gap, bringing in Daniels and Murphy. Colantonio kept the rally going with two outs, driving in Nuzzo with a single through the left side before the Gators ended the rally by inducing a groundout.
Unfortunately for Brown, this time the Gators fought back. A hit batter, a triple, and a sacrifice fly knocked Silverman from the game, but sophomore lefty Matt Boylan (Danvers, MA) got a foul pop to end the inning. However, Josh Adams homered to start the next inning, and a walk brought in senior Peter Moskal (Glastonbury, CT), who gave up two more runs to tie the game before getting out of the inning. Vita made a return appearance to start the eighth, getting to groundouts back to him, but after a pair of singles, senior closer Rob Hallberg (River Edge, NJ) entered to preserve the tie, which he did by inducing a fly out. However, Hallberg was unable to record an out in the ninth, as Avery Barnes' bases-loaded single drove home the winning run.
Colantonio led the Bears on the day with four hits, also driving in two runs and scoring twice. Puñal, who now leads the team with 10 RBIs, and Papenhause had three RBIs apiece, while Murphy scored four times despite going just 2-for-10.
On Sunday, the Bears and Gators will square-off one last time to decide the series. After entering the weekend with an 0-11 record against the SEC all-time, Brown will look to win a series from at team from arguably the nation's top baseball conference. First pitch is at 1 p.m.