This weekend the baseball team will play its most important games of the regular season. But yesterday the Bulldogs had to take care of business against Fairfield. And they did just that.
Yale (17-18-1, 7-4-1 Ivy) swept the doubleheader against its in-state rival Stags (10-22) with relative ease in New Haven. Game one saw five pitchers combine for a six-hit shutout in a 3-0 win and game two saw even more Eli dominance. In the nightcap, the Bulldogs dominated from start to finish, winning 8-2.
“We were just thinking about these games and coming out and playing well,” centerfielder Josh Cox ’08 said.
In game one, Brandon Josselyn ’09 got the start, but as in previous mid-week games, the starter was taken out early as planned. This time Josselyn went two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out one.
Robert Bruber ’10 was the first out of the bullpen for the home team. The Atlanta, Ga., native also pitched two scoreless innings. Matthew Smith ’10 and Vinny Lally ’11 each continued the shutout before giving way to captain and closer Steve Gilman ’08 who earned his fourth save of the season.
The Eli offense did all that was necessary in the first inning by plating its first run. Cox — the current Ivy League hit leader — walked, stole second, and scored on a Stefan Schropp ’09 double.
The game’s only other offense came in the fourth when Yale put up two more on the board with a little help from Fairfield. After two outs to start the inning, freshmen Andrew Moore and Gant Elmore hit back-to-back-singles. Both Bulldogs then scored on a two-run error by Fairfield’s second baseman, Abie Desimone.
Schropp and Elmore each went two for three at the plate for the Bulldogs.
In game two, Yale’s bats struck first once again, jumping out to a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning and scoring in each of the first five innings.
In the first, catcher P.J. Gorynski ’08, normally the team’s second baseman, reached on a fielder’s choice and eventually scored on a Jake Doyle ’08 sacrifice fly. Gorynski was behind the plate in place of usual starter Ryan Lavarnway ’09.
The Elis scored another run in the second on an Elmore RBI triple before scoring three in the third. The runs came on a Chris Sweeney ’10 two-run single that scored Doyle and Gorynski, and an Elmore sacrifice fly.
“It feels good [to contribute],” Sweeney said. “These games are important to get on a roll going into this weekend’s games.”
Fairfield then scored its first runs of the day in the top of the fourth, with the Eli defense providing the aid this time around. After two Stag singles and a HBP, third baseman Andy Megee ’11 committed a two-run error that put Fairfield within three with the score at 5-2.
But the Eli offense quickly added some insurance. Gorynski started the bottom half of the fourth off with a solo shot and Sweeney plated Schropp with an RBI single to widen the gap to 7-2.
The Bulldogs added another one in the fifth and shut the Stags down the stretch to win, 8-2.
Five Elis had multi-hit games, with Schropp leading the way with three. Sweeney, who had two hits of his own, drove in a team-high three runs.
Joe Castaldi ’10 got the nightcap start on for the Elis. He pitched three hitless innings, walking one and striking out six. He faced the minimum of nine batters.
Will Stratton ’11, Chris Walsh ’10 and John Henry Davis ’09 then completed the game in relief. The trio combined to allow four hits and two runs.
“It’s great to have the pitchers throwing well going into this weekend,” Lally explained. “We’re going to need good pitching against Dartmouth. And the bats came alive too. We had some timely hitting and that’s going to be huge this weekend.”
The Bulldogs can now set their eyes on arguably the most important series of the season. Only 2.5 games behind Dartmouth, Yale will head north to Hanover, N.H. for two doubleheaders this weekend to battle the Big Green. A poor showing from the Bulldogs could potentially eliminate them from the Ivy League title race.
“This weekend is going to determine everything,” Cox emphasized. “We want to go there and win three or four, preferably four. A split won’t do much for us.”