Baseball hopes home is where the wins are

After falling twice to Princeton at Yale Field Monday, the baseball team is hoping that home will be more hospitable this weekend.

The Elis (10-10, 1-3 Ivy) have outscored their opponents 26-20 over the past four games, but lost three of those contests by just one run each. Now the Bulldogs head into a four-game homestand against Ivy opponents — a noon doubleheader against Columbia (3-19, 0-7) on Saturday, followed by another twin bill against Penn (8-14, 5-3) on Sunday. And one thing is for sure — the Elis won’t be losing any of these games on a walkoff hit.

Neither of Yale’s opponents will be riding into the weekend on a hot streak. The Lions have lost seven games in a row, and the Quakers are in the midst of a three-game slide. The Elis hope to add to those streaks, but pitcher Jon Hollis ’06 says the Bulldogs are not taking anything for granted.

“The talent in this league is very even,” Hollis said. “Every game is a battle. It really comes down to who can execute in critical situations.”

Both Penn and Columbia boast some formidable players. The Quakers’ first baseman, Sean Abate, notched three multi-hit games in the team’s past five contests to earn Ivy Co-Player of the Week honors. Abate leads Penn in batting average at .359, including a sizzling .455 in Ivy play. The Lions’ Tighe Holden earned honorable mention last week for a five-for-twelve performance that included two homers and five RBIs. Holden is also a member of the Lions football team.

Still, the Elis have a Zen-like composure about their upcoming challenges.

“We are taught to respect every opponent, but fear none,” pitcher Josh Sowers ’05 said.

The Bulldogs boast a strong lineup, excellent defense, and an arsenal of dominant pitchers. Hollis earned All-Ivy honorable mention for his nine-inning, three run, 12 strikeout performance this week against Cornell. As of March 28, Yale had at least two of the top five Ivy pitchers in ERA, strikeouts, innings and opponents’ batting average.

On the offensive side, the Eli lineup has been very productive, scoring 15 runs over its last two games. Zac Bradley ’06 has been Yale’s Ichiro Suzuki at the top of the order, disrupting opposing defenses with aggressive base running and distracting pitchers with blazing speed. Currently Bradley is second in the Ivies in steals (8). First baseman Marc Sawyer ’07 anchors the lineup from the No. 3 spot. Sawyer leads the team in batting average (.325) and has four hits over his last two games. But the best aspect of the Eli lineup is its depth — in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Big Red, every Bulldog starter reached base at least once.

“We’ve been pitching pretty well and hitting the ball pretty well,” captain C.J. Orrico ’05 said. “We just need some clutch play to get us over the hump. It’s still early in the Ivy season, so we’re just looking to get out there and play well.”

The Bulldogs have taken some tough losses recently, but the team is very upbeat and excited about this weekend and the rest of the season.

“Our team morale was not affected by the losses this weekend,” Hollis said. “It came down to the little things, and with our team’s competitiveness and work ethic, we’re going to be on the other side of the breaks very soon. I think all the guys are eager to get back out on the diamond this weekend.”

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