The math is simple. With eight games remaining in the Ivy League season, the Elis sit three games behind Dartmouth heading into this weekend’s four-game series.
Dartmouth (23–6, 8–5 Ivy) comes to New Haven sitting first place in the Red Rolfe division of the Ivy League, while Yale (8–22, 5–7) joins Harvard at No. 2. Outfielder Joe Lubanski ’15 said that the weekend’s series could define Yale’s season.
“This is our NCAA tournament heading into this week,” Lubanski said. “David Toup’s ’15 line is always ‘Survive and Advance.” It’s a big opportunity in front of us … I have every bit of confidence that we can sweep them this weekend.”
According to Lubanski and outfielder Eric Hsieh ’15, Yale Field will offer a special home-field advantage for the Bulldogs this weekend. While Dartmouth plays its home games on Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park in Hanover, N.H., a field made of artificial turf, Yale’s ballpark has a natural grass field.
“We are used to our field by now, and the hops are a little different between turf and grass,” Lubanski said.
Recent series history bodes well for the Bulldogs, as Yale swept the four-game set when the Big Green last visited Yale in 2011. Dartmouth committed four errors in the series to just one by Yale, and the Big Green’s defensive miscues led to two unearned runs for the Elis on the weekend.
Captain Chris Piwinski ’13 said that Yale will have to focus on trying to put the ball in play and running hard in order to get “free 90s” against Dartmouth. He described the Big Green as a team that emphasizes the fundamentals of baseball.
“They play clean baseball,” Piwinski said. “Every guy they throw out there is going to attack and throw strikes.”
Big Green hurlers have walked just 66 batters through 29 games this season — 24 fewer than the next lowest team. Dartmouth ranks ninth in all of Division I baseball with just 2.41 walks allowed per game. Yale, meanwhile, is fourth in the Ivy League with 3.33 walks per game
Dartmouth’s bats will also be a cause of concern for Yale, as the Big Green lead the Ancient Eight with a .308 batting average. In order to keep pace, Piwinski said that the Bulldogs will need to come through at the plate with runners on base.
“We’re good at getting guys on and getting runners in scoring position,” Piwinski said. “We just need to get a big hit.”
He added that nine inning games give Yale more opportunities to push those runners across. The first game of each Ivy League doubleheader is just seven innings, while the second boasts nine. Yale has gone 0–6 in seven-inning games against Ancient Eight foes this season, but has amassed a 5–1 mark in nine-inning conference games.
Although a sweep would propel the Elis to first place in the Red Rolfe division, Hsieh said that the team is not getting ahead of itself.
“We need to focus on one game at a time,” Hsieh said. “We have to focus on the task at hand.”
First pitch for the top part of tomorrow’s doubleheader is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.