AP NEWS

Brandeis marches on after sweeping Madison

May 5, 2019

With baseball players being the superstitious sort, it’s unlikely a band hat left behind in the bus that carried the Brandeis Broncos to North East Sports Park will be returned anytime soon.

The marching hat added to the revelry after senior first baseman Oscar Cardenas’ grand slam in the second inning set the course for a 9-2 victory over Madison in Game 2 and a sweep in their Class 6A first-round series.

Brandeis faces Austin Lake Travis, which swept Smithson Valley, in the second round.

As the Broncos emptied the dugout to welcome Cardenas at the plate, senior Jose Cologna emerged wearing the band hat. After that, he stood over the dugout rail when the Broncos batted and mimicked a band member crashing cymbals during each at-bat.

“If they want to wear that crazy thing, and it serves as some kind of rallying cry, they can do whatever they want with it,” Brandeis coach Eric Jupe said. “People have goofy things that they do, and if it keeps these kids focused, they can do whatever they want as long as it’s done in the right way.”

Cardenas was 3 for 4 with a grand slam. Freshman pitcher John Michael Ramirez earned the complete-game win while going 3 for 3.

“We obviously didn’t want to go to game three because we didn’t want to play two today,” Ramirez said. “We just wanted to be efficient and get ahead early and that’s what we did.”

The Broncos (20-11) tallied the sweep after winning Game 1, 4-1, on Thursday. Game 2 was rained out Friday and moved to Saturday morning. Had Madison won, a third game would have been played Saturday afternoon at Northside Field.

The Broncos avoided this by taking an 8-0 lead in the second inning.

“It was important for us after sitting a rainout last night,” Jupe said of his team’s fast start. “It’s tough to sit around for a while and get refocused the next day. The kids did an outstanding job. They came in early this morning and they were focused from the get-go. I think that showed from the first pitch to the last out.”

Brandeis took a 3-0 lead in the first on a sacrifice fly to right by Aric Vasquez that scored Jesse Benavidez. David Jordan brought in two with a triple.

After Ty Fontenot drew a bases-loaded walk, Cardenas followed with a no-doubter to left field that made it 8-0 in the second.

“I told myself to lay back and rip it,” Cardenas said. “We were comfortable (with that lead), but not too comfortable because anything can happen, and they could have come back.”

Madison (17-16-1) made it 8-2 in the bottom of the second on Ryan Leija’s two-run single. Ramirez settled in after that, retiring the next eight batters to regain control.

“Getting out of it made me confident,” Ramirez said. “I came back and looked where I missed with what and what I could have done better. I tried to keep the ball away, hit my spots and be efficient.”

The Broncos added a run in the sixth on Ramirez’s sacrifice fly to center with bases loaded. Cardenas, who’s 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds and will play tight end at UTSA next season, bunted to help load the bases.

“He’s an athletic big man, and he goes a great job with that,” Jupe said. “It’s not the first time we’ve called upon him in those situations.”

Jupe was pleased to see his team carry high energy despite the early start.

“It’s tough to get the motor going in the morning, but they were ready to go from the time we got in the bus,” Jupe said.

dhinojosa@express-news.net

Twitter: @hinojosa_david