The baseball team is travelling north to face its biggest rival, but it is not going to Cambridge.
The Elis (9-26-1, 2-10 Ivy) head up to Dartmouth (13-15, 7-5 Ivy) for a four-game series beginning today.
“Everyone sees Harvard as our big rival,” designated hitter Josh Scharff ’13 said. “But in terms of baseball, it’s Dartmouth.”
The Big Green currently sits atop the Red Rolfe division of the Ivy League with a five-game lead over the Elis. The winner of the Red Rolfe division will face the winner of the Lou Gehrig division in a three-game series in May to determine the Ivy League champion. Catcher Ryan Brenner ’12 and outfielder David Toups ’15 said that although sweeping Dartmouth would be ideal, the team has to take the weekend one game at a time.
Along with battling for the Ancient Eight crown this year, the rivalry has taken on added meaning in recent years, as Dartmouth swept Yale in New Hampshire two years ago before the Bulldogs returned the favor in New Haven last year, players said.
“Last year we swept them, so they’ll be gunning for us,” Toups said. “Having a team gunning for you makes you play harder.”
Dartmouth has had the edge over Yale in the rivalry recently, winning the Rolfe division each of the last four years.
Brenner said that one reason for the Big Green’s success is its ability to throw strikes. Dartmouth has given out the fewest free passes in the Ivy League and is tied with the College of Charleston for 14th in the nation by allowing just 2.56 walks per game.
“[Dartmouth’s] pitchers are really good about throwing strikes,” Brenner said. “They are going to make us beat them… they just fill the strike zone.”
Although the Bulldogs have been struggling at the plate all season, the slump appears to being ending. The Elis have scored an average of 4.8 runs over their past five games and won three of those contests.
Starter Nolan Becker ’13 added that Yale’s struggles could actually be its secret weapon.
“They’re going to look at our stats and not expect us to hit,” Becker said.
More than just the Dartmouth baseball team stands to challenge the Elis in Hanover this weekend. The forecast is for rain at Dartmouth, according to the National Weather Service. As a result of the inclement weather, the games have been moved up by a day.
Mother Nature will be accompanied by support from the Dartmouth student body, Brenner said.
“When we go up to their place, their fans are crazy,” Scharff said.
First pitch is scheduled for noon both Friday and Saturday.