The baseball team proved that a week of inaction and five inches of snow were not enough to cool it down.
The Bulldogs (8-7, 0-0 Ivy) swept Pace (4-8) in an afternoon doubleheader Saturday at Yale Field, extending their winning streak to six games. The Elis won the first game, 4-1, in seven innings and shut out the Setters, 3-0, over nine in the second game.
“It was great to gain some confidence this weekend,” Zac Bradley ’06 said. “We’ve got a bunch of fighters on this team, and if we do our thing, we can beat anybody.”
In the opener, Josh Sowers ’05 almost became the first Eli pitcher since former major leaguer Ron Darling ’81 to throw a no-hitter. In fact, Sowers came within one strike of pitching a perfect game. But with a 2-2 count and two outs in the top of the seventh, Sowers hung a slider that Pace leftfielder Mike Pahira lofted to left for a double. Mike Mongiardini ’06 immediately relieved Sowers, who had thrown 89 pitches, and gave up an RBI double to Ted Mullen before closing out the victory.
Sowers, who notched eight strikeouts to bring his Ivy League-leading total to 31, said he was not terribly bothered by losing his bid for a perfect game.
“Since it was a seven-inning game, it would have been illegitimate anyway,” Sowers said. “I was locating my fastball well and I kept them off balance, but I wasn’t throwing quite as well as it looked.”
Although Sowers was not perfect, the defense was. The Bulldogs did not commit an error in either half of the doubleheader.
Yale supplemented spectacular pitching and defense with solid hitting. In the first game, the Elis scored twice in the bottom of the second. Designated hitter John Janco ’06 slammed a homer to right, followed by singles from Eric Rasmussen ’06 and Jake Doyle ’07. Rasmussen scored on a passed ball.
In the bottom of the fifth, Bradley scored on an errant throw and Matt Stone ’06 doubled to score Dan Soltman ’08 for the Bulldogs’ other run. Bradley, Janco and Doyle all had two hits in the contest.
In the second game, Josh Cox ’08 led off the bottom half of the first by reaching on an error. The next two batters failed to get on base, but Josh Zabar ’06 hit a fly ball that was mishandled by the centerfielder, allowing Cox to score. Stone then doubled to right, bringing Zabar home.
The Elis struck again in the bottom of the third. After hustling out an infield hit, Bradley was almost picked off, but instead ended up on third base after forcing two bad throws with some aggressive baserunning. Marc Sawyer ’07 then grounded out to first to plate Bradley.
Despite another strong offensive performance, it was pitching again that put the Bulldogs on top. Jon Hollis ’06 was perfect for three innings before giving up a bloop single in the fourth. He struck out eight in five innings to improve to 2-0 this spring. Alec Smith ’05 relieved Hollis, fanning six over four scoreless innings to pick up the save.
The Setters blamed their anemic offense on a lack of practice.
“Yale pitched well, but it was the lack of seeing live pitching and playing in the cold that hurt our hitting,” Pace third baseman Matt Arburr said. “We’re just trying to get some games in right now.”
The Bulldogs were initially scheduled to play a three-game set with Vermont on Friday and Saturday, but the Catamounts cancelled because of harsh weather forecasts in the Elm City. Perhaps Vermont just preferred the weather in Florida, because the team extended its stay in the Sunshine State by a few days after canceling the Yale series.
Fortunately for the Elis, Pace was available to play on Saturday. Due to some clutch work by the groundskeepers, Yale Field was in excellent condition by Saturday morning, and the home opener was played as scheduled.
“It was nice to finally get a chance to play,” pitcher Brett Rosenthal ’07 said. “It wasn’t too cold, and we were glad to get a pretty decent crowd so early in the season.”
The Elis’ next game is on Wednesday against UConn in Storrs, Conn.