Baseball takes streak to upstate N.Y.

Riding a four-game winning streak, the baseball team travels to upstate New York this weekend to take on the University of Albany in a pair of doubleheaders.

The Bulldogs (9-6) look to build on the consistent offense and solid pitching they have demonstrated this season, which has garnered the team their best pre-Ivy League record since the early 1990s. Albany (4-12) has struggled this year and has lost six of its last seven games. Picked before the season to finish fifth in the America East conference, the team has struggled with both hitting and pitching in the early season.

Albany’s ace, senior Mark Suchowiecki (1-3), has posted a 4.35 ERA, walking 14 and striking out 14 in 20 innings of work this season. The Great Danes’ most productive hitters thus far have been catcher Tom Hill and infielder Nate Olson. Hill has hit for both average and power, going into the weekend with a .327 batting average, two doubles and two homers in only 52 at-bats. Olson has also displayed the ability to drive the ball, belting three homers and a double in just nine starts.

By contrast, the Bulldogs are riding a surge of well-rounded, productive offense, having scored a combined 40 runs in their last four games. Designated hitter John Janco ’06 leads the team in batting average, slugging percentage and stolen bases, while center fielder Jake Doyle ’07 leads the team in RBIs and on-base percentage. Freshman right fielder Ryan Lavarnway ’09 has continued his scorching spring with the bat, going 2-for-4 with an RBI on Wednesday to raise his average to .300, and ranks second on the team with 13 runs batted in.

Yale’s plate discipline may play a particularly important role in run scoring this weekend, as Albany pitching has issued a stratospheric 80 bases on balls and hit 29 batsmen in 123 innings of work, while striking out only 76. Since he has functioned often as leadoff hitter this spring, left fielder Josh Cox ’08 will be a pivotal figure in getting on base and igniting the offense for the Elis.

“My job is to see lots of pitches, go deep into counts, hit situationally and attempt to get on base,” Cox said. “I carry that mindset into every at-bat.”

Third baseman Pedro Obregon ’07 also weighed in on his method at the plate in this upcoming series.

“My approach stays pretty much the same,” Obregon said. “You want to be selectively aggressive, get a pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”

Despite the fact that the Bulldogs are still over a week away from the opening of Ivy play at Columbia, Yale head coach John Stuper is not taking these doubleheaders lightly. He undoubtedly recalls the shock of the sweep the Bulldogs suffered in a four-game series against Albany two years ago.

“We’re treating these games as league games,” Stuper said.

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