Yale baseball knows drama.
After splitting two with Princeton (12-14, 4-4 Ivy) on Saturday afternoon, the Bulldogs (12-16-1, 5-2) swept Cornell (6-15, 0-6) and finished the season’s first weekend in New Haven in dramatic fashion on Sunday with two walk-off hits. Ryan Lavarnway ’09 continued his assault against opposing hurlers with a game-winning solo home run in game one, and Stefan Schropp ’09 singled in the winning run to complete a seventh-inning comeback in game two.
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Sunday’s game one was an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Chris Finneran ’10 went all seven innings for Yale. The Suffern, N.Y., native had a perfect game through four and allowed just one run and two hits. He struck out eight and walked one.
“It’s definitely my best performance at Yale,” Finneran said. “I’m pretty pumped about it. I was locating my fastball well, my curve ball was snapping and Davis called a great game behind the dish.”
On the other side, Corey Pappel went five innings and allowed four hits and one run, striking out six and walking five in the process. Mike Carroll relieved Pappel in the sixth and headed to the mound in the seventh.
Lavarnway led off the frame with the game-winning solo shot over the right field wall to give Yale a 2-1 victory. The catcher/left fielder had walked in his two previous at-bats before he ended the contest with his Ivy League-leading 14th homer of the season.
The Elis had struck first in the fourth inning with their only other run. Jake Doyle ’08 led the inning with a single. After a Davis Stanley ’09 strikeout, Andy Megee ’11 walked and Dan Soltman ’08 reached on a fielder’s choice. Next, Josh Cox ’08 walked to load the bases. Pappel then threw a wild pitch, allowing Doyle to score, before retiring P.J. Gorynski ’08 to end the threat.
Cornell’s lone run came in the next half — the top of the fifth. Mickey Brodsky led the inning with a walk. After a Jadd Schmeltzer strikeout, Kyle Groth singled to left center field. Jimmy Heinz then drove Brodsky in with an RBI single up the middle. Finneran struck out the next two hitters to escape the jam.
Cox led the Elis with two hits and a stolen base.
Game two had more offense and just as much drama.
Heading into the ninth inning down by a run, the Bulldogs managed to stage a comeback with two outs.
After Megee struck out swinging to lead the inning off, pinch hitter Chris Sweeney ’10 singled to right field. After a Cox strikeout, Gorynski proved clutch and singled in pinch runner Stephen Miehls, who managed to score all the way from first to tie the game at five.
Lavarnway followed by singling and advancing Gorynski to second. Stefan Schropp then stepped up and gave Yale its second theatric win of the day with an RBI single, for a 6-5 victory.
“It was great [hitting the game-winning single], but it was better to get the two wins,” Schropp said. “The two wins were really big for us.”
At first things didn’t look good for the Elis. The Big Red jumped out of the gates in the first inning with three runs off of starter Alex Christ ’08. After a Cornell walk and double, the Big Red’s next two runs came off of a passed ball and a wild pitch before the side was finally retired.
The Bulldogs got on the board with an Andrew Kolmar ’11 solo home run in the second and an unearned run in the fourth.
Cornell scored again in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Scott Hardinger that scored Domenic Di Ricco after Di Ricco had tripled.
After another Cornell run in the sixth made it 5-2, Yale added two more in the bottom half off the bat of Megee. After Trigg Larsson-Danforth ’10 walked to start the inning, Megee hit a two-run homer to right field two batters later to bring Yale within one, 5-4, and set the stage for Schropp’s ninth-inning dramatics.
Yale’s bullpen was very effective. John Henry Davis ’08, Vinny Lally ’11 and closer Steve Gilman ’08 combined to pitch 3.2 scoreless innings. Gilman earned the win after pitching the ninth.
“Our bullpen did a great job keeping us in the game,” Gorynski said. “Once they got in the game, they basically shut them down.”
Lavarnway, Schropp and Kolmar each had two hits for the Bulldogs in game two.
Saturday’s game one was another pitcher’s duel.
Brian Irving ’08 was dominant in Yale’s 3-2 triumph. He pitched all seven innings, scattering five hits and allowing just two runs, one earned. Irving mowed down 12 Tigers and walked just one.
Yale scored once in the first and twice in the fifth. Seven Bulldogs combined for eight hits, led by Megee’s two.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead through four innings in game two, the Elis saw the Big Red burst for four runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth off of a two-run home run.
Yale put up two runs in the ninth but fell short, 8-5.
Gorynski led Yale in the second game with three hits and three RBI. Brandon Josselyn ’09 got the loss for the Bulldogs after going 6.2 innings and allowing six runs, four earned, on 10 hits. He struck out five and walked three.
Through seven conference games, the Bulldogs find themselves in second place in the Rolfe division, only behind undefeated Dartmouth (6-0). Columbia (5-1) sits atop the Gehrig division. The winner of each division ultimately meets in a best-of-three series to decide the Ivy League championship.
“Every single Ivy League team fights to the last out,” Gorynski said. “We came into the weekend wanting to get at least three out of four. It’s really big that we did and stayed close to the top of the standings.”
Yale next takes the field on Wednesday against Sacred Heart (2-23) for another doubleheader. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.