MEN’S BASEBALL | Yale ends 11-loss skid

The Elis opened Ivy League play with a 1–2 performance over the weekend at Princeton and Cornell. The Bulldogs are currently fourth in the Ancient Eight with a .237 team batting average through 17 games this season.
The Elis opened Ivy League play with a 1–2 performance over the weekend at Princeton and Cornell. The Bulldogs are currently fourth in the Ancient Eight with a .237 team batting average through 17 games this season. Photo by Adlon Adams.

The last time that Yale baseball won a game, March Madness was still a week away and the majority of Georgetown and San Diego State fans most likely had no idea Florida Gulf Coast University existed. It took until Saturday for the Bulldogs’ slide to halt.

Left-handed pitcher Rob Cerfolio ’14 threw a gem to stop the Bulldogs’ 11-game losing streak on the opening day of conference play in the Ivy League. The Elis split a doubleheader with Princeton (5–17, 3–1 Ivy) and then dropped an 8–5 decision to Cornell (15–6, 3–0) on Sunday before the second game was rescheduled due to rain. Cerfolio said that he felt he needed to give Yale (2–15, 1–2) a chance to end the streak on Saturday.

“Every time I go out there, I feel like my goal is to keep my team in the game and give us a chance to win,” Cerfolio said. “I really wanted to give our team a solid effort especially after losing the first game.”

Cerfolio’s masterpiece gave Yale a 9–1 victory over Princeton after the Elis lost the first game of the day 4–0. Cerfolio and catcher Chris Piwinski ’13 both said that establishing the southpaw’s fastball was key to his dominating performance. Piwinski added that the run on Cerfolio’s two-seam fastball was particularly effective.

The backstop also attributed Cerfolio’s success to his willingness to go after the Tiger hitters.

“[Cerfolio] wants to challenge guys,” Piwinski said. “He doesn’t mind having two or three pitch at-bats and letting guys hit the ball. He trusts the defense behind him.”

It took the lefty just 98 pitches — 64 thrown for strikes — to complete eight shutout frames. Cerfolio also struck out four batters while walking just two in the Elis’ victory.

Although reigning Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Zak Hermans kept the Elis off the scoreboard in the first game of the twin billing, Yale had no problem scoring runs in support of Cerfolio. RBI singles by third baseman Brent Lawson ’16 and centerfielder Green Campbell ’15 gave Cerfolio a 2–0 lead before he took the mound. Lawson would not slow down for the rest of the game, adding four more singles to complete a 5-for-6 performance in the second game. The third baseman would follow up Saturday’s breakout performance with a 2-for-4 showing at Cornell on Sunday. His RBI-squeeze bunt single in the top of the first helped the Bulldogs jump out to a 5–0 lead, but the Big Red answered with a five-spot of their own in the bottom of the frame. Cornell tacked on runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to complete the comeback victory.

“We needed to step on their throats,” Piwinski said. “We let them back in the game. … We needed to keep working to extend the lead.”

Three errors by Cornell led to four unearned runs in the first inning, but the Big Red made just one more fielding mistake the rest of the way. Yale had no fielding miscues on Sunday and just two all weekend. The Elis had come into the past three games with 32 errors as a team — second-most in the Ancient Eight.

The Elis played all three games this weekend without the help of Cale Hanson ’14 at shortstop. The preseason first-team All-Ivy selection had been feeling discomfort in his wrist for several weeks, according to Piwinski, before being taken out of the lineup against Holy Cross last weekend. Piwinski added that the injury is to Hanson’s non-throwing wrist, and the junior will continue to pitch for the team.

Yale will finish its series with Cornell today at 11 a.m.

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