Cincinnati Reds’ scout Donald Titus said he likes to watch Yale play because the team has a history of producing good pitchers. But on their way to repeating as City Series champions, the Bulldogs produced on both sides of the ball.
Not even a surprise appearance from New York Yankees all-star closer Mariano Rivera could steal the show from the Elis on Sunday as they defeated the University of New Haven 7-3 to win the championship the day after they knocked off Southern Connecticut State, 5-0. Rivera attended the series to watch his son, Mariano Jr., play for Quinnipiac University. The Bulldogs’ pitching staff dominated both games, allowing only three runs while striking out 19 batters in 18 innings of work.
Head Coach John Stuper and catcher Ryan Brenner ’12 said they were both impressed with the performance of freshmen pitchers Eric Hsieh ’15 and Ben Joseph ’15 in their collegiate debuts. Stuper, Brenner and Joseph all added that the freshman class will need to contribute in the spring, so the experience they gained in this fall series will prove to be important.
Hsieh pitched four innings of shut-out, one-hit baseball to start off Saturday’s game against SCSU. Joseph picked up the win in relief on Sunday against UNH by striking out three Chargers in two innings of work. Although Joseph received credit for the victory, he said he was not the lone hero on Sunday.
“It’s an awesome feeling to pick up the win, but I can’t take much credit,” Joseph said in an email to the News. “It was a perfect team victory.”
Among the heroes on the offensive side of the game was right fielder Josh Scharff ’13. Scharff was named the 2011 City Series Most Valuable Player after going 4-8 with a home-run, five runs batted-in and two runs-scored in the two games. Scharff hit a three-run double with two outs in the third inning on Sunday to take the lead 3-2, and his RBI double with two outs in the eighth put the Bulldogs ahead, where they would remain, 4-3.
Stuper and four players on the team said that the offensive success was spread throughout the team this weekend, with players getting clutch hits up and down the line-up. Stuper added that the team also put pressure on the defense by bunting the ball and stealing bases.
“Our coaches like to say, ‘We don’t hit, we play offense’,” Scharff explained in an email to the News. “Which means we take advantage of bunt situations, we steal bases and we put balls in play to put pressure on the defense.”
While Scharff said that superstition keeps him from making predictions for the team this year, both he, Stuper, and other players on the team said that they are excited to play on this team because it has an attitude of toughness and competitiveness.
The team opens its spring season on March 3 in Blacksburg, Virginia, where the Bulldogs will face-off against the Virginia Tech Hokies.