Yale-killer Venable dooms Elis again

Yale will be happy when Princeton’s Will Venable finally graduates this spring.

A year ago, Venable tipped in a shot at the buzzer to lift the Tigers over the men’s basketball team at John J. Lee Amphitheater. Yesterday, the two-sport star hit a walk-off homer in the first game to lead Princeton (7-11, 2-0 Ivy) past the baseball team (9-9, 0-2 Ivy) as the Tigers swept both games of the doubleheader, snapping the Elis’ seven-game winning streak.

Though the twin bill was played at Yale Field, the Tigers were the home team because this weekend’s series was originally scheduled to be played in Princeton and moved due to rain. The Tigers made good use of their last licks — Venable’s blast in the bottom of the tenth capped a 5-4 victory for Princeton in the first game. In the second game, the Tigers won, 9-8, on a bases-loaded single by catcher Sal Iacono in the bottom of the ninth.

“Princeton is a tough team,” Zac Bradley ’06 said. “We fought, they fought. It was real disappointing to lose, but we just have to turn the page and move on.”

The Elis were ahead most of the time in both games, but they had trouble holding onto their leads. In the first game, Mike Morgiandini ’06 was strong on the mound, giving up only one earned run in six innings of work. Brett Rosenthal ’08 was also solid in three-plus innings of relief. The only hit he allowed was Venable’s home run. The three unearned runs allowed by Yale — scored on an errant throw in the third and a passed ball in the seventh — proved costly.

Yale struck first in the opening game with two runs in the second inning. Jake Doyle ’08 scored on a wild pitch, and Chris Esper ’06 plated Eric Rasmussen ’06 on a sacrifice fly. But Princeton came back with two runs in the bottom of the third. The Elis added a run in the fifth when John Janco ’06 drove home Matt Stone ’06 with a single to right, and the Bulldogs got another run in the sixth when captain C. J. Orrico ’05 scored on an RBI single by Bradley. In the seventh, Princeton tied the game on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Aaron Prince before Venable eventually won the game for the Tigers with a one-out homer in the bottom of the tenth.

“These are huge wins,” Prince said. “Ivy games are so important, and we’ve got two of them out of the way now. This was just huge for our team, especially since we came from behind.”

In the second half of the double-header, Yale led by as many as five runs, but again were unable to hang on. The Bulldogs got off to an early lead when Josh Zabar ’06 plated Bradley on an RBI groundout in the top of the first. Princeton struck for three runs in the bottom of the first, but did not score another run until the seventh inning. Meanwhile, the Elis scored seven runs — one in the second, and three each in the fifth and sixth — but Princeton scored twice in each of the last three innings to win the game.

The Eli pitching staff allowed nine earned runs in the second game — the most Yale has given up since March 11 against Georgetown in which the Bulldogs allowed 12 runs. On a brighter note, the defense was solid again, allowing only one error. The Elis made two errors on the afternoon, compared to Princeton’s eight.

“Overall, we played really well,” pitcher Matt Fealey ’06 said. “Our pitchers threw well, we played solid defense, and the offense hit. If a couple of balls had bounced a little differently, I think maybe things wouldn’t have turned out like they did.”

The Bulldogs will get another chance to win their first Ivy League game tomorrow when they take on Cornell (4-7, 0-0 Ivy) in a noon doubleheader in Ithaca. The Elis made the six-hour journey last night after the end of the Princeton series.

“It will be a real character test,” Bradley said. “We’re really going to see what we’re made of tomorrow. If we can make that trip and win some games against a tough team like Cornell, it will be big for our team.”

Catcher Eric Rasmussen ’06 dives backwards for a fly ball in Monday’s doubleheader against Princeton. The Bulldogs lost both games by one run, one of them in extra innings.
Smita Gopisetty
Catcher Eric Rasmussen ’06 dives backwards for a fly ball in Monday’s doubleheader against Princeton. The Bulldogs lost both games by one run, one of them in extra innings.

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