Even though the baseball team split its doubleheader with Harvard on Wednesday, the vibe around the Yale clubhouse made it seem as if the Bulldogs had swept their rival.
Hours after nearly coming back from being down 13–0 in their 14–12 loss in the first game, the Elis took a commanding 7–0 lead, en route to an 8–3 victory over the Crimson (15–23, 8–8 Ivy) in the nightcap.
Yale (18–21–1, 5–11) has now scored eight runs in each of its last four games, a feat it has not accomplished since the first week of the season when the Bulldogs started 4–1.
“After we lost our first four games in the Ivy League [on April 3 and 4] I think we were focusing too much on the fact that our backs were up against the wall,” designated hitter Trey Rallis ’11 said. “We just kind of psyched ourselves out. We eventually got back to the basics and letting the chips fall where they will.”
Rallis went 4-for-7 on the day, and his double in the sixth inning of the first game broke the Yale single-season record of 17 two-baggers.
Head coach John Stuper said he noticed a return to form for the offense, too.
“They’re going back to doing what they did early in the season — hitting the ball where it’s pitched and not trying to pull everything,” he said. “When we were swinging, we were swinging with some violence.”
Things did not look good for the Bulldogs at first, though.
Pitcher Pat Ludwig ’12, the team’s ERA leader, was pulled after throwing for just two-thirds of an inning. In that time frame, Ludwig allowed five runs on five hits and three walks.
His reliever, captain Joe Castaldi ’10 did not fare much better, allowing eight
runs in two innings of work.
Finding themselves down 13–0 in the bottom of the third, the Bulldogs strung together eleven unanswered runs in three innings to make it 13–11, heading into the sixth inning. Cam Squires ’13 got it started for the Elis with a two-run triple. Yale’s fourth inning was highlighted by a two-run home run from Matt Schmidt ’12, while the fifth featured another two-run bomb — this one coming off the bat of first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth ’10, who extended his hit streak to 18 games.
After the Crimson got a run back in the top of the sixth, Larsson-Danforth went deep again to make it 14–12. It was his 10th homer of the season. Rallis followed the solo homer with a record-breaking 18th double, but was left stranded after Charlie Neil ’12 struck out swinging for the third out.
Yale had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh but a groundout and a fly-out ended the game, leaving Yale’s improbable comeback bid short.
“We got behind by so much and that was very disappointing to me,” Stuper said. “I didn’t think we had the energy that we needed to have, but they battled back like crazy and we had a couple of chances to tie it or go ahead.”
Buoyed by a strong performance from pitcher Chris O’Hare ’13, the Bulldog offense carried its momentum into the second game, winning 8–3.
RBI singles from Ryan Brenner ’12 and Andrew Kolmar ’11 as well as a fielder’s choice groundout from Squires gave the Elis a 3–0 lead in the top of the second.
The next inning, Yale extended its lead by two runs with a RBI groundout from Neil and another Brenner RBI single. Then, in the fourth, Gant Elmore ’11 laid down a successful safety squeeze bunt, and Andrew Megee ’11 hit a solo homer over the left field wall, making it 7–0 after the fourth inning.
The Crimson, who had had just two hits through four innings, hit a solo homer in the fifth and two RBI singles in the sixth. With Harvard having runners at the corners, O’Hare was able to get out of trouble with a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
“They started to hit the ball in the later innings, but I just kept trying to throw strikes,” O’Hare said. “Earlier in the year that would happen and I’d start to try to nitpick and throw the perfect pitch, but today when they got on base I was just looking for some ground balls.”
O’Hare pitched six and a third innings, giving up three runs.
Megee’s RBI double in the sixth made it 8–3, and pitcher Chris Finneran ’10 shut out the Crimson in the game’s final two and two-thirds innings.
Although Larsson-Danforth reached base three times on walks, the senior slugger went 0-for-1, ending his18-game hitting streak.
“He’s a marked man in our lineup and for him to put up the numbers that are even better than his numbers from last year, I’m pretty proud of him,” Stuper said. “I hope [a Major League team] gives him a chance.”
Yale will end its season this weekend with a doubleheader at Brown on Friday and a doubleheader at home against the Bears on Saturday.