In a seesaw battle in Storrs Wednesday, the baseball team lost to the University of Connecticut 9-6.
The game featured four lead changes, with the final one coming in the bottom of the eighth when the Huskies (13-8) took the lead on a sacrifice fly and went on to add two more insurance runs. The heart of the order led the Elis (8-10), with batters 2-6 driving in all six of the Bulldogs’ runs.
Yale headed into the bottom of the eighth with a 6-5 lead, but could not hold onto it.
“It’s great to have a lead in the eighth inning, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t win,” said team captain Steven Duke ’03, who went 1-4 in the game with a 2-RBI double.
The Huskies’ Mike Leonard began the inning with a base hit off of relief pitcher Adam Barrick ’05. Pinch hitter David Tokarz followed Leonard with a single to left, which allowed Leonard to score following an error in left field by Randy Leonard ’04.
Yale’s four errors in the game were too many, Leonard said.
Connecticut’s next two batters got on base after being hit by Barrick’s pitches and Dan Trubia drove in what proved to be the winning run with a sac fly to center field. The Huskies added three more runs in the inning.
“[Connecticut] was probably one of the better offenses we’ve seen this year,” said pitcher Mike Elias ’05, who pitched a perfect fourth inning in relief. “We pitched pretty well.”
There would be no ninth-inning heroics for the Bulldogs, as Connecticut closer Mike James earned the save with a 1-2-3 inning. Barrick took the loss for Yale.
The Elis were ahead early when lead off man Randy Leonard ’04 scored on Chris Elkins’ ’03 sac fly in the top of the first inning.
The Bulldogs’ bats did not show up again until the sixth inning. Down 4-1, they finally got to Connecticut starter Erik Drown.
“Sometimes it takes a second or third at bat to see the pitcher and really get comfortable,” Duke said. “It’s also contagious when one guy gets a hit and another guy gets a hit.”
Either way, the Elis’ first five batters reached base. With men in scoring position, the Bulldogs got RBIs from Mike Hirschfield ’03, Elkins, Darren Beasley ’03 and Duke to head to the bottom half of the inning with a 6-4 lead.
“Every time [Drown] made a mistake we punished him,” Leonard said.
The Elis got contributions from throughout the heart of the order.
“Obviously you want to get as many people involved as possible,” Duke said.
The Huskies got one run back in the bottom of the sixth inning, and then took the lead for the rest of the contest in the bottom of the eighth.
The Elis had a chance to tack on more runs in the top of the eighth with the bases loaded and one out, but Mike Gulker ’05 hit a ground ball to the mound, setting up the force out at home. Leonard stepped to the plate with two outs, but lined out to center field to end the threat.
For the Huskies, who are ranked No. 1 by the New England Division I College Baseball Coaches Poll, yesterday’s win was their school-record 10th straight since joining the Big East Conference.
The Elis must now prepare for their Ivy League season, which starts this weekend on the road with double headers against Cornell (6-7) and Princeton (7-14) on April 5 and 6.