BASEBALL | Elis eliminated from Ivy contention

Several players said last week that Yale’s natural grass field could give the Bulldogs an advantage over a Dartmouth team that plays its home games on artificial turf.
Several players said last week that Yale’s natural grass field could give the Bulldogs an advantage over a Dartmouth team that plays its home games on artificial turf. Photo by Kathryn Crandall .

Going into the weekend with a chance to take the lead in the Red Rolfe Division, the Bulldogs dropped three out of four games to Dartmouth to fall officially out of contention for the Ivy League championship.

The weekend series gave Dartmouth (26–7, 11–5 Ivy) a five-game lead over the Bulldogs in the Red Rolfe Division with just four games left in conference play. The Big Green needs one win next weekend against Harvard to clinch the division and earn a spot in Ivy League Championship Series against the winner of the Lou Gehrig division.

Although several players said last week that Yale’s natural grass field could give the Bulldogs (9–25, 6–10 Ivy) an advantage over a Dartmouth team that plays its home games on artificial turf, the Elis committed six errors on the weekend, while the Big Green made just three defensive miscues over the four-game series.

“I think on the plays that we made errors on, the game just got sped up a little bit,” second baseman David Toups ’15 said.

Three Yale errors led to four unearned runs in the first game on Saturday as Dartmouth won 9–1 in seven innings. Senior right-hander Rob Sulser struck out five in his complete game effort to earn the win for Dartmouth.

The Big Green scored a run in the second, third and ninth innings of the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, but each time Yale responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the frame and the game went to extra innings. The wheels came off for Yale in the 10th, however, as Dartmouth scored four runs — three unearned — to win the game 7–3.

The Elis desperately needed a win to keep their post-season hopes alive to start Sunday’s double-header, and left-handed pitcher David Hickey ’14 delivered.

“He pitched an unbelievable game in our third game this weekend,” infielder Jake Hunter ’14 said in a message to the News. “He threw a shutout — the second he has thrown in conference play — and it was the only game we won.”

Toups added that Hickey was able to mix up his pitches to keep hitters “off balance and guessing.” The southpaw tossed seven scoreless frames, scattering four hits and striking out two. Hickey got better as the game went on, retiring the last 13 batters he faced.

It looked as if Dartmouth would jump out to an early lead when the Big Green loaded the bases with no outs off Hickey in the top of the first, but the junior induced a double-play ball back to the mound to help Yale escape the threat unscathed.

Hickey’s gem kept Yale alive in the Ivy League, but Dartmouth would eliminate the Elis with a 5–0 victory in the second half of Sunday’s twin bill. Hunter did all he could at the plate to stave off elimination, getting a hit in all four of his trips to the plate. He hit a torrid .692 (9–13) on the weekend.

“Jake Hunter had a huge weekend and set the table for the rest of the lineup all weekend,” third baseman Brent Lawson ’16 said. “I have never seen anyone hit the ball that hard for six consecutive hits. It was crazy.”

Lawson had a solid series at the plate as well, driving in four runs on five hits.

The Big Green pitchers, however, were able to subdue the rest of the Eli lineup, holding the Bulldogs to six runs in four games. They allowed just seven walks in 33 innings over the four games.

“They challenged us with fastballs away early, and then were very good at changing speeds,” Lawson said of the Dartmouth pitchers. “They did not walk many guys and forced us to put the ball in play.”

Yale will play its final home games of the year when it hosts a doubleheader with Brown on Friday. First pitch is schedule for 1 p.m.

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