Gems key baseball’s sweep of Big Green

Most Yale students prefer to finish what they started, and pitchers Josh Sowers ’05 and Jon Hollis ’06 are no exception. On Monday, each started a game for the Elis, and each finished with a complete-game victory.

The Bulldogs pounded Dartmouth, 5-1, in the opener and edged the Big Green, 4-3, in the second game of Monday’s doubleheader at Yale Field. The sweep gave Yale (21-14, 9-7 Ivy) its second and third wins in the four-game series against Dartmouth. With the victories, Yale passed the 20-win mark for the first time since 1998 and pulled within three games of division-leader Harvard with four Ivy contests left.

The Eli defense gave up just one error in each of Monday’s games, and the offense came through with solid hitting in both contests. First baseman Marc Sawyer ’07 slammed five extra base hits while third baseman Matt Stone ’06 notched five hits in seven at-bats with a home run and four RBI on the day to lead the Elis.

“We were really happy about taking three out of four against Dartmouth and exacting a bit of revenge considering our sad performance [against them] last year,” Stone said. “I especially felt better that I was able to contribute after my poor performance in the first two games.”

In the first game, Sowers improved his record to 6-0 this season with a dominant performance against the Big Green (12-17, 7-9). The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out seven, lowering his league-leading ERA to 1.17.

The Bulldogs’ lineup gave Sowers plenty to work with, scoring two runs in the first inning and one run each in the third, fourth and fifth. Sawyer had three hits and three other Elis — right fielder Josh Zabar ’06, left fielder captain C.J. Orrico ’05 and Stone — chipped in two hits apiece.

In the second game, it was Stone who had three hits and Sawyer who had two. The pair drove in three of Yale’s four runs, and John Janco ’06 added an RBI double to plate the fourth.

On the mound, Hollis allowed three runs over nine innings, fanning six and walking two. With the win, Hollis improved to 4-1 on the season.

“Our two starters were fantastic,” catcher Eric Rasmussen ’06 said. “[Sowers] and Hollis were throwing strikes and getting ahead of the hitters, and our defense kept the damage to minimum. We did better with the bats in the first game because the opposing pitcher wasn’t quite as good, but we still did a great job of getting on base and scoring early on. The second game was a pitcher’s duel, and Hollis did a great job of making sure Dartmouth didn’t get any runs back.”

Yale will play Hartford (5-17) at Yale Field today after yesterday’s scheduled game was rained out. The Elis will then face division rival Brown this weekend in a four-game home-and-home series that could determine the Ivy champion. The Bulldogs travel to Providence, R.I. for a doubleheader on Friday before returning to the Elm City on Saturday for a noon twin bill at Yale Field.

Even though they are currently in third place in the Red Rolfe Division, the Elis are still in the playoff hunt. But they will need some help from Dartmouth. For the Bulldogs to win the division, the Big Green would have to sweep the Cantabs and Yale would have to sweep Brown this weekend, which will not be easy. The Bears are only one game behind Harvard and have playoffs hopes of their own.

“This weekend is going to be tough,” Rasmussen said. “Brown is playing for the division too, so we just have to get out ahead early and put pressure on their team. Basically, we just have to come out and do our jobs.”

The Elis could also force a first-place tie in the division with a sweep of Brown and a three-loss weekend by Harvard, or with a three-win series against the Bears and a Big Green sweep of the Cantabs.

“We need to go into this weekend with everything we have,” Sowers said. “It is going to take our best to beat a very good Brown team.”

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