Baseball shows promise in early going

It was a productive beginning of the season for the Yale baseball team, which posted an 8-6 record on a spring trip that took them through Virginia, Florida and the Carolinas.

The Bulldogs (8-6, 0-0 Ivy) kicked off the trip by playing the University of Richmond (5-12), splitting the series, 1-2. The Eli bats were quiet in the first game, only producing one extra-base hit out of six total hits. Yale lost the game, 7-0. Though the team began to hit in the second game, a costly error allowed two unearned runs to score, and Yale lost, 8-6. The Bulldogs were victorious in the final game of the series thanks to a solid start from righthander Jon Hollis ’06 (5 IP, 3ER, 3K) and timely hitting, including a two-run home run from John Janco ’06.

After Richmond, the Bulldogs squared off against the University of Connecticut (9-7), winning an 8-7 nailbiter. Jake Doyle ’07 had four early RBIs in the contest, but the Huskies battled back to within a run after a costly Eli error in the ninth. Entering with the tying run in scoring position, Brett Rosenthal ’07 slammed the door to earn the save. Yale also took one of its games against Holy Cross in equally dramatic fashion, when P.J. Gorynski ’08 slapped a walkoff RBI single to right field. After recording the win against the Crusaders, Rosenthal was named the season’s first Ivy League Pitcher of the Week.

“It was a huge honor,” Rosenthal said. “I just feel fortunate that the team rallied to give us those wins. Since there’s only 20 [Ivy League] games in the whole season, the back end of our bullpen needs to be able to shut down games. I want to do my part to make sure we don’t blow leads that the offense and starting pitching work hard to get us.”

In Yale’s contest against Northern Iowa (10-9), pitching ruled the day, with starter Chris Wietlispach ’08 turning in five solid innings of two-run baseball. Yale head coach John Stuper handed the ball to submariner Matt Fealey ’06 and later to left-hander Adam Barrick ’06, who combined for four brilliant shutout innings, allowing only one hit. Unfortunately, the stability of the pitching did not carry over to the next game against Eastern Illinois, when four of Yale’s hurlers were tagged with a combined 11 earned runs. The Bulldogs scored only two runs on five hits, all singles.

The second-to-last stop on the trip was at the University of South Carolina (17-3), currently ranked ninth in the country by Baseball America. Solo home runs by Josh Cox ’08 and Ryan Lavarnway ’09 went unmatched by the rest of the lineup, and Yale pitching was tagged for eight runs in the loss.

The Bulldogs ended their trip on a high note by sweeping their Davidson (10-10) series with a display of uncharacteristically consistent and powerful hitting.

In the first game, right fielder Lavarnway went 2-for-3 with four RBIs, including his second home run in as many games. The second game was highlighted by another fine start from Wietlispach and a 16-hit assault from the lineup, including Lavarnway’s third home run of the spring. In the final game of the series, Charles Bush ’09 and Pedro Obregon ’07 each had three RBIs, and first baseman Marc Sawyer bucked a slow start to the season by going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Fealey continued his torrid spring by pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings, including striking out the final two batters of the game with the tying run on third base.

“It’s always good to come back up north on a winning streak,” Fealey said. “Hopefully we can carry that momentum into the games over these next few weeks.”

Despite his dominant start to the spring (11IP, 2ER, 7K), Fealey said he is always striving to refine his game.

“I’m looking to work on my control and being able to throw any pitch in any count,” he said.

Though there were certainly rough spots that one would expect on any spring trip, catcher Eric Rasmussen ’06 said, Yale has solid chances to contend with the best in the Ivy League, with both its hitting and its pitching.

“This is one of the most complete lineups we’ve had since I have been here,” Rasmussen said. “[We] have the potential to put a lot of runs up on the board this year. As for the pitching, we have so much depth within the staff, which will help us create better matchups throughout the year.”

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