BASEBALL | Division play begins for Bulldogs

Right-hander Greg Lyons ’12 is 1–2 with a 5.16 ERA in nine appearances this season. The Bulldogs pitching staff’s 5.45 ERA is the best in the Ivy League.
Right-hander Greg Lyons ’12 is 1–2 with a 5.16 ERA in nine appearances this season. The Bulldogs pitching staff’s 5.45 ERA is the best in the Ivy League. Photo by Marc Beck.

The Bulldogs have rebounded from a 0–4 start in Ivy League competition, winning three of the last four games, but they still sit in third in the conference’s Rolfe Division.

The Elis will have a chance to rise in the standings when they travel to Dartmouth for a pair of doubleheaders this weekend. And with only two Ivy League competitors left this season, they will have to make a statement.

“It’s a big weekend for us,” captain and pitcher Joe Castaldi ’10 said. “We’re a few games back in our division and we start division play this weekend, and it’s important that we come out and win a few games.”

For the past two seasons, the Big Green have played in the Ivy League championship series and they won the championship last year. But while Dartmouth was considered Baseball America’s preseason favorite to win the conference, the Big Green haven’t lived up to their expectations thus far. Dartmouth is currently 4–4 in Ivy League play, while they only had four losses in conference all of last season.

In fact, going into their game against the Bulldogs last year, the Big Green were 11–1 in conference play. Yale won the first game that weekend, but then dropped three straight to Dartmouth conclude the series.

“They’re going to challenge us,” Castaldi said. “They had a really good year last year and we’re expecting some tough competition this year, but we’re confident at the same time.”

Still, this year, the two teams look to be more evenly matched. After faltering in conference play against Penn and Columbia, where the team lost four straight, the Bulldogs have won five of their last eight.

“We weren’t playing Yale baseball that weekend,” Castaldi said. “We’re going to go back and play like we know how this weekend. 0–4 is tough to come back from, but if anyone can do it, we can, because we have the talent to really make a push up.”

Improved pitching has been a cornerstone of this year’s improvement. The Bulldogs lead all Ivy League teams in pitching with a 5.51 ERA while Dartmouth sits at third with a 6.00 ERA. Robert Gruber ’10, who was named the Ivy League pitcher of the week for after throwing five and two-thirds shutout innings last week, leads the Yale pitching staff with a 1.38 ERA on the season, fourth in the Ivy League. He is 3-0 on the season.

The Bulldogs’ offense ranks third in the conference with a .311 batting average while Dartmouth sits at fifth with a .301 average. Gant Elmore ’11 leads the Bulldogs offense with a .405 batting average followed by Trygg Larsson-Danforth ’10 who has an average of .385 and eight home runs on the season.

The pair of doubleheaders are scheduled to start at noon this Saturday and Sunday at Dartmouth’s Red Rolfe Field.

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