In the midst of a long fall preseason with practices and inter-squad scrimmages, the Yale baseball team was finally able to gain some competitive game experience over the weekend in the annual City Series at Yale Field.
The Bulldogs split the two games they played in the tournament to finish in third place in a field that also included Southern Connecticut State University, Quinnipiac University and the University of New Haven. Yale fell to SCSU 2–1 on Saturday and beat Quinnipiac 4–2 in a consolation game on Sunday.
“We were disappointed with how we played on Saturday,” infielder and captain Cale Hanson ’14 said. “I think it’s pretty safe to say that we were the favorites going into the weekend, so to finish third was disappointing. But it is good to finish the fall with a win.”
Left-handed pitcher David Hickey ’14 got the start for the Elis against SCSU. The southpaw dominated in his first time on the mound this year, allowing just two runs and four hits while fanning six in his 6.1 innings pitched.
“That gives you a chance to win, every time you can go out there and give a quality start like that,” pitcher Rob Cerfolio ’14 said about Hickey’s performance.
In the first inning, first baseman Jacob Hunter ’14 led off for the Bulldogs and singled before being moved over the second on a groundout. Centerfielder Brent Lawson ’16 put Yale up 1–0 when he scored Hunter on a ground-rule double.
That was all the offense that Yale would get on Saturday, however. Yale put runners on base in seven of the nine innings, but left nine runners on base and could not score after the first inning.
Hickey, meanwhile, kept the Owls scoreless through six innings with just two hits.
With one out in the seventh inning, SCSU put two base-runners on with a walk and a single, then tied the game at one with a double.
Pitcher Chris Lanham ’16 was then brought in to replace Hickey on the mound. The Owls scored an additional run in the inning with a single, but Lanham allowed no runs after the seventh.
Yale had chances to make up the deficit in all of the final three innings, but stranded runners on base in the seventh, eighth and ninth. The game ended with a fly out to center while second baseman Harrison White ’17 was on third base.
“To only score one run like we did is pretty frustrating,” Hanson said. “We lacked timely hits.”
With a first place finish out of reach, the Bulldogs headed into the game on Sunday looking to avoid last place.
Right-handed pitcher Chasen Ford ’17 started on the mound for Yale and pitched two scoreless innings with one strikeout. Cerfolio came in to pitch the third and fourth innings, allowing no runs through his two frames. Cerfolio said that the Yale coaches made Sunday’s game a staff game so that more pitchers could get innings.
The Bulldogs manufactured their first run in the fourth, as shortstop Richard Slenker ’17 grounded out to move Lawson, who had been hit by a pitch, over to second. Infielder Tom O’Neill ’16 drove in Lawson on a single to left to give Yale the one-run advantage.
After three more scoreless innings courtesy of Yale pitchers Michael Coleman ’14 and Nate O’Leary ’16, Quinnipiac got its offense going in the eighth inning.
A walk and sacrifice bunt resulted in a Bobcat runner on second with one out. The next batter up hit a shot to left center, but Lawson ran full speed behind him, tracked the ball down and made a full-extension diving catch to preserve the lead for the time being.
The next Bobcat batter up drove in the man on second with a long triple to right center off right-hander Chris Moates ’16. A wild pitch allowed the runner on third to score and gave Quinnipiac a one-run lead.
But with a last place finish seemingly imminent, the Bulldogs responded. Two singles and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Yale with no outs in the bottom of the eighth.
Slenker then lined a single down the left field line to drive in two runs, putting Yale up 3–2.
Pinch hitter David Toups ’15 singled home another run in the inning to make the score 4–2, and Moates pitched a scoreless ninth to close out the game.
“We knew that the biggest challenge for us was going to be getting hits and scoring runs,” Hanson said. “And that’s exactly what happened this weekend. When the bats showed up and we score four runs, we won, and when they didn’t, we lost.”
Yale’s seven pitchers over the weekend demonstrated the depth and dominance of the Eli pitching staff.
Yale graduated no pitchers from last year’s 13–25 team and will look to its pitching to carry the team in 2014.
“We’re going to be really solid on the mound,” said Cerfolio, who had a 3.31 ERA as a starter in 2013. “If we can have our guys fill up the zone, throw strikes and limit walks, that’s going to give us a chance to win every time out.”
With game experience under their belts, the Bulldogs now head into their long winter preseason.
Official team practices begin in February, and Yale will open the season Feb. 28 at LSU.