April 29, 2007
Providence, RI - With a 2-0 win in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader with Yale, the Brown baseball team (20-18, 14-6 Ivy) clinched first place in the Red Rolfe Division for the first time in team history and a spot in the Ivy League playoffs. The Bears fell to the Bulldogs (15-27, 8-12) in game two, 7-5, but the important work had been done by that point. The Bears will now face Lou Gehrig Division winner Penn at Murray Stadium next weekend for a best-of-three series to decide the Ivy League Championship.
In the clincher, Brown's starter, junior Jeff Dietz (Altamonte Springs, FL), clearly did not have his best stuff in what was his third start in eight days. However, what he may have lacked in velocity he made up for with location and pitching smarts, holding the Bulldogs to five hits and one walk over seven complete innings for the Bears' first shutout of the season.
The Bears' hero at the plate was sophomore Brad Rifkin (Columbia, MD), whose fifth-inning wall-ball double brought in sophomores Robert Papenhause (Hillsborough, CA) and Dan Shapiro (Basking Ridge, NJ) for the game's two runs. The runs were the only blemishes for Yale starter Brandon Josselyn, who went six complete innings and only threw 66 pitches, scattering seven hits and striking out five.
In game two, Brown got out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, as junior Ryan Murphy (Mantoloking, NJ) drove in sophomore Steve Daniels (Fox Point, WI) on a groundout. However, the Bulldogs got runs in the third, fourth, and sixth to go up 3-1. The Bears got one back in the sixth on a single by sophomore Matt Nuzzo (Everett, MA), who extended his hitting streak to 15 games, but Yale scored again in the seventh on a Ryan Lavarnway bomb to left field. Daniels grounded out to bring in senior Adjatay Nyadjroh (Somerville, MA) in the seventh, again cutting the lead to just one, 4-3. However, in the ninth, the Bulldogs got to junior Rob Hallberg (River Edge, NJ) for three runs, and although Brown got two in the bottom of the ninth on senior Devin Thomas's (Gainesville, FL) team-leading 11th home run of the year, a rocket over the right-field scoreboard, that would be all as Yale took the win.
Senior James Cramphin (Simsbury, CT) got the start in the second game, but only went four innings, as he was also throwing for the third time in eight days and the division title was already wrapped up. Junior Peter Moskal (Glastonbury, CT), senior Anthony Vita (West Babylon, NY), freshman Rob Wilcox (Columbia, SC), senior Paul Costa (East Providence, RI), and Hallberg each threw one inning in relief, as Head Coach Marek Drabinski looked to get multiple relievers some work. Moskal and Costa both threw scoreless innings, with Moskal working into and out of a bases-loaded jam and Costa allowing just one hit and striking out one.
Before the games, the Bears honored their six graduating seniors - Costa, Cramphin, Nyadjroh, pitcher Ethan Silverstein (Woodbridge, CT), infielder and former pitcher Bryan Tews (Park Ridge, IL), and Thomas - in a special ceremony.
The Bears had tied for the Rolfe Division title twice, in 2001 and 2002, but lost in tiebreaker playoff games both times, to Dartmouth and Harvard, respectively. Brown and Penn split their earlier match-ups this season, with Penn taking a 5-3 win in game one and the Bears coming back to take a 15-12 victory in a second-game slugfest.
With a doubleheader planned for Tuesday at home against Central Connecticut State and the possibility of a home game on Wednesday, the Bears will get some work before next weekend's playoff series with the Quakers. The CCSU doubleheader will start at 2 p.m.