The Yale baseball team smashed its way through its five-game spring break road trip, winning three-of-five in a barrage of strong at-bats.
The Elis (4-6) lost against Bowling Green 6-1 Mar. 12 and Fairleigh Dickinson 11-9 Mar. 15, but defeated Holy Cross 14-3 Mar. 13, Miami (Ohio) 8-2 Mar. 14, and Davidson 4-1 Mar. 17. Yale had 58 hits and scored 36 runs in the process. The Bulldogs were scheduled to play against Army Mar. 16 but the game was cancelled due to rain.
“Out of the three years that I’ve been [at Yale], this is the best team I’ve played on,” outfielder C.J. Orrico ’05 said. “We’re going to hit well this year.”
Much of what cost the Bulldogs games during their southern swing was their inexperience, not their lack of offensive firepower.
“We’re a young team — we have three or four freshmen starting every game,” Orrico said. “They’ve been doing great but we’ve also lost some games on young mistakes.”
The Bulldogs started off strong against Bowling Green. The Elis got on the scoreboard first, playing small ball to get the opening tally. Outfielder Jake Doyle ’07 got on base first with a single followed by another single from Orrico one out later. Center fielder Eric Rasmussen managed to put the ball in play, advancing Doyle and Orrico, but grounding out himself. Third baseman Pedro Obregon ’07 walked to load the bases. Shortstop Chris Esper ’05 then grounded a single, scoring Doyle. The Falcons managed to staunch the bleeding by forcing Yale captain Randy Leonard ’04 to pop out to end the top of the inning.
But the Bulldogs lead would not last. Bowling Green scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning, followed by one in the third and two in the sixth.
“[Bowling Green] just outhit us,” Leonard said. “The low point was in the second inning when we put up one [run] and they came back with three.
Despite losing the first match-up of its road trip, Yale recovered against Holy Cross, making 20 hits and scoring 14 runs in a dominating victory.
The performance was capped by a five-run sixth inning, in which Rasmussen had an RBI-single, Esper had an RBI-single, and Leonard had a three-RBI double.
“The sixth inning we put up five runs and we just never looked back,” Leonard said. “Everybody hit.”
Leonard led the Bulldogs with four hits and five RBIs. But Leonard got some help — he was one of five Elis with at least three hits.
Pitcher Chris Winkler ’07 earned his first collegiate win, striking out four and allowing three runs over five innings and an out. The combination of pitchers Mike Mongiardini ’07, Doug Shimokawa ’04 and Colin Ward-Henninger ’05 closed out the game without allowing another run.
With momentum on their side, the Elis continued their winning ways, racking up 10 hits and scoring eight runs in a win against a strong Miami (Ohio) team.
Once again, the difference came in the sixth inning. In the top of the sixth with two outs remaining, Orrico reached first base on an error by the opposing left fielder and scored first baseman Marc Sawyer ’07 from third. Obregon then walked with the bases loaded, Esper hit an RBI-single and Leonard drove in two runs with a double to give the Bulldogs a game-ending 8-2 lead.
Starting pitcher Alec Smith ’05 gave a strong performance, allowing only two runs and eight hits, striking out six and giving up no walks.
“We put it all together,” Leonard said. “We got a lead in the fourth and never let them back into the game.”
But the next day against Fairleigh Dickinson, the Elis lapsed on defense and paid the price.
Yale made 10 hits, with home runs in the fifth and sixth by Esper and Sawyer, respectively. The Bulldogs trailed 9-2 in the fourth inning after the Knights knocked a grand slam and a three-RBI play in the third. The Elis managed to get within one after the fifth inning due to a series of strong at bats, but Fairleigh-Dickinson scored another run at the top of the sixth off two Eli errors. Overall, the Bulldog defense tallied five mistakes.
Yale also erred at the plate, failing to capitalize on weak Fairleigh-Dickinson hurlers.
“We hit the ball but to be honest their pitching wasn’t that great,” Orrico said. “Even though we scored nine runs we should have scored 15 to win the game. We struck out too much against crummy pitching.”
In the final game of the road trip, Yale starting pitcher Josh Sowers ’05 suffocated Davidson’s bats, striking out nine and allowing only one run over six innings. It was his first win of the season.
Yale scored two runs in the top of the second off of a two-run RBI by third baseman Matt Stone ’06. In the seventh, second baseman Justin Ankney ’07 reached on an RBI-double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Sawyer.