BASEBALL: Yale sweeps reigning Ivy champ

If there were any doubts about the Yale baseball team’s potential when it dropped two games to Penn on Monday, the Bulldogs quickly put those doubts to bed yesterday with a pair of decisive victories over defending Ivy champion Columbia in New York City.

Starting pitchers Chris Lanham ’16 and David Hickey ’14 each tossed seven shutout innings in their first conference starts of the season, leading Yale (9–11, 2–2 Ivy) to 3–0 and 4–1 victories, respectively.

The two wins, which were Yale’s first over the Lions (8–14, 2–2) since 2011, came at the perfect time for the Bulldogs, who had suffered two losses at Penn the day before

“These two victories were huge for us,” Lanham said. “It puts us back at 0.500 in the Ivy season, and it gives us a really good shot going forward.”

Lanham and Hickey both turned in their best performances of the season so far and improved to 4–1 and 2–2, respectively, with the wins.

Lanham fanned six in his complete game shutout and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning, ultimately allowing just three hits. Yale got two of those three runners out on the base paths, meaning that Lanham faced 22 batters, just one batter above the minimum for seven innings.

His pitch count of 62 over the seven frames marked an average of fewer than nine pitches per inning.

“I was really just throwing strikes and getting the leadoff guys out,” Lanham said. “That was a big part of my success today — being able to throw three pitches for strikes and keep the hitters off balance.”

Hickey, meanwhile, seemed to mimic his teammate’s performance, also scattering three hits while striking out seven and walking just one. Relief pitcher Chris Moates ’16 closed out the eighth and ninth innings of that game and allowed one run on two hits.

The pitching performances left little room for error for Lion starters Joey Donino and Kevin Roy. The Bulldogs were able to squeeze across three runs on five hits off of Denino, who boasted a 7–0 record for Columbia last season but fell to 1–3 this year with the loss.

In the nine-inning second game, Yale scattered nine hits for four runs off of the combination of Roy and pitcher Adam Cline.

Outfielders Green Campbell ’15 and David Toups ’15 led the team offensively, with a combined six hits between them. Campbell went 3–6 on the day with a run and an RBI, while Toups was 3–7 with a pair of runs and an RBI.

In total, the Bulldogs outhit the Lions 14–8 and outscored them 7–1.

“When we had Lanham come out and put up zeroes for us, we knew offensively that we were going to have a chance,” said left fielder Eric Hsieh ’15.

In the first matchup of the day, the pitcher’s duel between Lanham and Denino was ultimately decided by a single Eli rally in the top of the third inning.

After Hsieh was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, third baseman Tom O’Neill ’16 moved him over with a sacrifice bunt and catcher Robert Baldwin ’15 doubled Hsieh home to take the initial lead.

Second baseman Harrison White ’17 reached on a walk, and Baldwin, who had advanced to third on a passed ball, ended up scoring on a balk.

Finally, captain and shortstop Cale Hanson ’14 extended Yale’s lead to three with a double to drive in White.

“We just needed base runners,” Hsieh said. “Once we got that, we got in [Denino’s] head a little bit, and then we put up some clutch hits.”

The Bulldogs managed just three hits after the third inning, but the damage was already done, and Lanham sealed up the victory with four more shutout frames. Lanham retired the last batter of the game when a man was on second, the only Columbia runner that reached base and stayed there in the entire game.

During the next game, the two pitchers were again dominant on the mound until the fifth, when the Bulldogs finally managed to string enough hits together to score.

Columbia’s Roy allowed three doubles to four batters with Toups, Campbell and O’Neill all touching him for extra bases. The result was Toups and Campbell crossing the plate to give Yale the initial lead again.

The Bulldogs struck for two more runs in the eighth when Hanson was hit by a pitch, moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Hsieh and came home on a triple by Toups.

Toups then scored on a wild pitch for Yale’s fourth run.

Moates entered the game for Hickey in the top of the eighth after Hickey walked the leadoff batter and was just about to throw his 100th pitch of the game.

Consecutive hits by Columbia in the ninth led to a runner scoring on a fielder’s choice, but the Lions were down to their last out, and it was too late for a comeback. Moates got the last Columbia batter to fly out to center to close out the sweep.

The Bulldogs will play at Connecticut today at 3:00 p.m. Because rain pushed the Penn and Columbia doubleheaders back by two days each, Yale’s game today will be its fifth game in three days.

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