By Chris Gionta
Brandeis had men on first and third with one out in the top of the sixth inning and a 4-1 lead over the Springfield baseball team on Tuesday afternoon. The Judges had been consistently hitting the ball well, and the Pride called on Nathan Kelleher-Mochak to quiet their bats.
Kelleher-Mochak surrendered one inherited run in the jam on a softly-hit infield single, then kept Brandeis hitless in the seventh and eighth innings. Over the course of his 2.2 frames pitched, he only allowed two base runners while striking out three.
His middle-inning dominance held the game within reach for Springfield, and the Pride eventually decreased the deficit to one run. Although Springfield lost 5-4, the performance that kept the game competitive did not go unnoticed.
“He’s been real rock-solid﹣he’s been similar to [today’s performance] most of his outings,” Springfield head coach Mark Simeone said. “He throws strikes with all the pitches in his repertoire and he’s got some moxy out there﹣he believes he’s gonna get every guy out that he pitches [to].”
Kelleher-Mochak has become one of the most reliable relief options for the Pride with only one run allowed through 14 innings of work this season.
In the bottom of the sixth, Ryan Sorgi drove in a run on a groundout to make it 5-2 Brandeis. Two innings later, Andrew McCarty snuck a ground ball through the hole between the first and second baseman for a two-run single.
However, the Pride’s late rally was not enough to overcome the deficit. As the season progresses, the team is striving to be consistent offensively from the first pitch to the last.
“I think at times, we were aggressive without making good decisions and maybe swinging at pitches that we would have been better not swinging at,” Simeone said. “It’s approach at the plate, it’s decision-making.”
Brandeis’s bats arrived early, starting with a sharp ground ball through the middle by Steven Simon to lead the game off on a single. A well-placed ground ball by Alex Kim followed and put men on second and third with no outs. Sam Nugent drove Simon in on a sacrifice fly, then Brian King launched an RBI triple that hit the left-field wall. With two outs and King on third, Drew Michaud drove an RBI double to the left-center field gap to make it 3-0.
The Pride responded in the bottom of the inning with a Sorgi RBI double, but were held scoreless from that point until the sixth inning.
The loss moved Springfield to 6-8-1 on the season. The Pride have one more non-conference game before plunging into their NEWMAC schedule on April 1 against Babson.
“[We are] tightening things up, using our whole roster,” Simeone said. “We’ve got a number of players that have the ability to contribute to our success in all three phases of the game.”
Springfield went 11-6 in its 2022 conference games, and the team is confident it can repeat success this time around.
“We are going to compete, and it’s just a matter of getting better every day,” Simeone said. “I think we have good energy, I think we’re playing together, I think we’re supporting each other.”
Photo: Springfield College Athletics