While piles of snow are still littered across campus from the winter’s most recent snowstorm, the baseball team will head south for spring break.
The Bulldogs will begin their 39-game regular season on Saturday with a doubleheader against Army in Tampa, Fla. First baseman and reliever Kevin Fortunato ’14 said that the team is anxious to take the field and begin the season.
“It’s going to be a really exciting year, and everyone’s really antsy to get going,” Fortunato said.
The Elis will have no shortage of games soon enough, as they will play seven games over seven days, including another matchup with Army at the Yankees Spring Training Complex in Tampa.
The field of the 27-time world champions of baseball will not be the only exciting venue for Yale. The Elis will play three games against No. 19 University of Virginia (12–0, 0–0 ACC) on Davenport Field in Charlottesville, Va. Yale will also get a chance to play on baseball’s biggest stage when they go to bat against Michigan (5–6, 0–0 Big Ten) at Citi Field — home of the New York Mets. Infielder Cale Hanson ’14 said that the chance to play on the fields that are the home to major leaguers is a dream come true.
“I know this sounds cliché,” Hanson said. “But when you’re little, all you can think about is getting to play on a major league field.”
The 2013 season is also a chance for the Bulldogs to put a disappointing 2012 campaign behind them. The Elis went 13–31–1 last year. Captain Chris Piwinski ’13 attributed that record in part to bad luck in close games, as Yale went just 8–17–1 in ballgames decided by two runs or fewer.
“We lost a lot of close ballgames last year,” Piwinski said. “The ball just didn’t bounce our way. … We were in a lot of games.”
The Elis will have to attempt to turn last year’s record around without the assistance of several key starting pitchers from last year. Starting pitcher Pat Ludwig ’12 graduated and was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 10th round, and left-handed starting pitcher Nolan Becker ’13 opted to forgo his senior season after being selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 11th round. A third starting pitcher from last year, Chris O’Hare ’13, has dropped off the team for unspecified reasons.
But Fortunato said the Elis have more than enough talent to make up for these losses on the mound.
“It’s something every college team deals with,” Fortunato said. “Guys are filling in roles and are throwing extremely well.”
Fortunato mentioned southpaw Rob Cerfolio ’14 and righthander Ben Joseph ’15 as two out of several pitchers who could step up on the season. Cerfolio posted a 0–4 record and a 4.98 earned run average in 47 innings last year, while Joseph struck out 12 batters in nine innings over seven appearances.
He also added that offensively, “There’s a lot more balance in our lineup one through nine.”
Yale will play its first 12 games on the road before it returns home on March 24 to host a doubleheader against Holy Cross.