Baseball falls to Brown in USA Baseball-Irish Classic

Anslee Krouch, Contributing Writer

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The men’s baseball team had the unique privilege of playing in the USA Baseball-Irish Classic in Cary, N.C. from March 4-5. Their first game was against Brown on March 4. For the fourth time this season, the Bison pitchers held their opponent to two runs or fewer. Pitchers Jeff Gottesman ’19, Max Kra ’16, Jack Grabek ’19, and P.J. Strahm ’19 only let in two runs and five hits. However, the Bison offense could not manage to score a run. Joe Ogren ’16, Brett Smith ’17, Danny Rafferty ’17, and Sam Clark ’17 each had one single, making up the Bison’s four hits of the game. The Bears ended up winning the game 2-0.

Playing Notre Dame the following day, the Bison rallied and won their third out of the last four games, improving their record to 5-4. The Bison entered the bottom of the ninth leading 5-2, fueled by timely hitting from Smith, Ogren, Luke Johnson ’18, and graduate student Alex O’Neill. Notre Dame rallied to score three runs to push the game into extra innings. In the top of the 11th inning, Smith hit a sac fly, scoring Chuckie Scales ’18 and putting the Bison up 6-5. Christian Tailor ’19 pitched a scoreless 11th inning, giving him his first career save as the Bison defeated the Fighting Irish. Mike Castellani ’17 started on the mound for the Bison and gave up just four hits in seven innings. Smith, Ogren, O’Neill, and Johnson each had two hits to lead the offense for the Bison, while Jon Mayer ’16 had a timely RBI single in the sixth. Smith leads the team with a .351 batting average and has gotten on base in all nine games.

For the first time since playing No. 3 Virginia in 2014, the Bison faced a top 10 ranked team playing No. 8 North Carolina State Wolfpack on March 6 in Raleigh, N.C. this time. Dan Keller ’16 started on the mound for the Bison and lasted until the fifth when he was relieved by Andrew Andreychik ’16. Andreychik got out the first seven batters he faced. Offense was provided for the Bison by Ogren who doubled and then scored in the fourth inning with a hit from Clark. And in the fifth inning, Mike Korchak ’18 singled and then scored with a hit by Rafferty. The Bison remained hitless over the final four innings of the game and the Wolfpack went on to win 5-2. Despite the loss, the Bison were not disappointed with their weekend.

“Beating Notre Dame in extras [innings] was a big win going into N.C. State on Sunday. Although we didn’t pull out the win, we compete hard for nine innings at their home park,” Korchak said. 

“We saw some good competition down South,” Rafferty said, “I’m excited about the progress we’ve made, but we still have work to do heading into Florida and [further] league play.” 

Following tradition, the Bison will head to Florida from March 12-16 during spring break. The team will play five games. The first three games will be against Bradley, and then they will face Dartmouth and Maine.

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