The members of the baseball team knew a split this weekend would only hurt their chances of winning the Red Rolfe Division and, ultimately, the Ivy League title. But that was all they could manage.
The Bulldogs (19-20-1, 9-6-1 Ivy) were able to take the first game in extra innings Saturday before falling convincingly in the nightcap to first-place Dartmouth (20-13, 12-4). Sunday saw more of the same, with the Elis again prevailing in extras in game one before ultimately losing game two.
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“It would have been nice to get out of there with three wins, but we’re not too worried,” Vinny Lally ’11 said. “Dartmouth is facing a hot Harvard team next weekend. If we sweep this weekend against Brown and Dartmouth splits, we’re in really good shape.”
In the series opener, each team’s ace — Yale’s Brian Irving ’08 and Dartmouth’s Russell Young — found themselves in a pitcher’s duel. But it seemed Young was left in the game one inning too long.
The game, scheduled for seven innings, went to extra innings with the teams tied at three. All the Bulldog offense needed was one extra frame to finish off the Big Green.
With one out, Chris Sweeney ’10 reached on an error by the Dartmouth first baseman, and the Elis quickly took advantage. Designated hitter Andrew Moore ’11 proceeded to homer over the left-field wall, giving the Bulldogs an insurmountable 5-3 lead.
Closer Steve Gilman ’08 relieved Irving and closed out the game with a hitless eighth.
Irving scattered five hits over seven innings, allowing just three runs. He both struck out and walked four Big Green batters.
On the other side, Young matched up with Irving before running out of gas in the eighth. Young allowed five runs — four earned — and 12 hits.
Centerfielder Josh Cox ’08 led the Elis with three hits. Third baseman Andy Megee ’11 had two hits and two RBI.
In Saturday’s game two, Yale jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one-and-a-half innings, but things went downhill from there.
Dartmouth used two huge innings to build an overwhelming lead. The Big Green put five runs on the board off Bulldog hurler Brandon Josselyn ’09 and six more in the sixth inning off the combination of Josselyn and reliever Chris Walsh ’09, taking a 12-4 advantage.
Josselyn was chased out of the game in the fourth inning without getting an out. He pitched three-plus innings, allowing 11 hits and eight runs.
Walsh could not get a single out. He faced four batters and allowed three hits, four runs and one walk.
Dartmouth overwhelmed the Yale hurlers with 17 base hits. After a few meaningless runs, the Big Green won by a final score of 13-6.
Day two started with another Bulldog extra-inning triumph.
In a game that featured 11 innings and 16 hits by each club, the Elis were powered to victory by catcher P.J. Gorynski ’08.
Gorynski’s solo home run in the 11th inning — his sixth of the season — made the difference in an 8-7 Yale victory.
Even with the high score and huge number of hits, the starting pitching was effective on both sides.
Chris Finneran ’10 hurled five solid innings. He surrendered just one run on six hits, striking out three along the way.
It was the bullpen that could not come through for the Bulldogs.
After Yale built a 5-1 lead through five-and-a-half innings, John Henry Davis ’08 surrendered one run and left two men on base without recording an out before southpaw Lally ’11 came on in relief. Those two baserunners scored with Lally on the mound and were credited to Davis. Lally allowed a run of his own and recorded one out before being relieved by Gilman.
Gilman allowed one more run in the sixth to tie the score at five apiece. After recording the final out in the sixth, Gilman went on to pitch the next four innings, allowing two runs on eight hits.
Darmouth starter Robert Young — Russell’s younger brother — was effective on the mound. Young pitched eight innings, allowing five runs — four earned — and scattering 12 hits. He struck out five and walked none.
Ryan Smith relieved Young, and although he let up three runs in two innings, only Gorynski’s home run was earned.
Matthew Smith ’10 closed the game for Yale with a hitless 11th.
In the series finale, Yale once again witnessed the importance of pitching.
Lefty Alex Christ ’08 got the start and lasted just two-plus innings. On the other side, Dartmouth’s Chase Carpenter went all nine innings.
After cruising through the first inning, Christ found himself in tough jams over the next two frames, letting up three runs in the second and two in the third without recording an out.
In the end, Christ allowed seven hits and five runs in his two-plus innings of work. Joe Castaldi ’10 and Lally each followed, combining to pitch the final five innings.
For the Big Green, Carpenter countered with a complete game, scattering 11 hits and allowing two runs, one earned. He walked and struck out one.
The Bulldog scoring came in the fifth and sixth innings, with single runs in each.
Shortstop Gant Elmore ’11 drove in the first run on a fielder’s choice, and left fielder Stefan Schropp ’09 drove in the final run with an RBI single.
But even with an 11-10 hit advantage, the Bulldogs could not string together a rally before eventually losing, 7-2.
The Elis were without the services of Ivy League Player of the Year frontrunner Ryan Lavarnway ’09. The offensive standout fractured a bone in his wrist against Harvard the weekend before last and will be out for the rest of the season.
“It’s going to be hard to replace him, but the heart and soul of our team are the seniors,” Finneran said. “The atmosphere they bring everyday is great. It’s tough not having him in the three hole, but other guys like Schropp and Gorynski are really stepping up.”
The Bulldogs’ Rolfe Division title hopes now are not entirely in their hands. Still 2.5 games back, the Bulldogs will need to win at least two games more than the Big Green next weekend to force their incomplete game at Penn to be finished.
The Bulldogs will be in Providence on Saturday for two games against Brown before hosting the Bears on Sunday for two more in New Haven.
The Big Green will do a home-and-home against last-place Harvard to complete the regular season.
“This weekend coming up is even bigger,” Lally said.
Not winning at least two more than the Big Green next weekend would end the Bulldogs’ season without an Ivy League title for the 14th year in a row.