BASEBALL: Yale keeps Red Rolfe lead

On paper, the Yale baseball team had everything it needed to win its four-game series at Dartmouth this past weekend. The Bulldogs headed into the weekend leading the Big Green by three games in the Ivy League standings and had posted better numbers than a young Dartmouth squad both offensively and defensively.

But in the end it was Dartmouth (10–17, 5–7 Ivy) overpowering Yale (13–18, 6–6) at the plate and taking a 3–1 series victory on its home field. Yale dropped two games on Saturday, 8–2 and 12–3, came back to win 6–0 in the first game on Sunday and then fell 4–2 in the series finale.

“Dartmouth is always the favorite in our half of the league,” captain and shortstop Cale Hanson ’14 said in an email. “We expected them to be good regardless of their record going into this weekend. … We only scored two runs in game four, but I was proud of the way our team came back after a rough two games on Saturday.”

The Elis’ lead over the Big Green in the Red Rolfe standings dropped from three games to one with the losses. With Dartmouth’s tiebreaker advantage, the lead will need to remain that way for Yale to make the Ivy League championship series.

The main positive of the weekend was ace pitcher Chris Lanham ’16, who stymied yet another offense with a complete game shutout in the third game of the series. In three starts in Ivy League play, Lanham has allowed just one run through 20.1 innings — good for a league-best 0.45 conference ERA.

Lanham’s efforts led Yale to a 6–0 victory in the third game. He fanned four while scattering four singles, two in the seventh, that turned out to be harmless.

“Chris Lanham has been incredible for us this season,” Hanson said. “I think most of his success comes from his ability to throw all three of his pitches for strikes at any time he wants to. He keeps hitters off balance and [that] leads to a lot of weak contact.”

Yale held just a 1–0 lead through five until the offense eventually figured out Big Green starter Michael Danielak in the sixth. Five of Yale’s first seven batters in the inning hit singles, leading to five runs and a 6–0 victory.

But the six-run effort by the offense happened in the game in which the Bulldogs needed it least. In the other three games, Eli pitchers suffered from a lack of run support as Yale fell 8–2, 12–3 and then 4–2.

“That’s just baseball, I guess,” catcher Robert Baldwin ’15 said in an email. “The cliche term is that ‘hitting is contagious.’ … We had runners in the correct positions the other games, but lacked the big hit or lucky bounce which could bust the inning and game open.”

During game one on Saturday, starting pitcher Chasen Ford ’17, who pitched six shutout innings against Cornell the weekend before, was knocked around from the beginning, as the Big Green scored on two hits and a fielder’s choice in the first frame.

The Bulldog offense responded to assist Ford and kept the game close at 3–2 through three and a half innings.

Dartmouth’s Nick Lombardi took the game over at that point, however, homering in his next two at-bats to drive in four runs.

Relief pitcher Nate O’Leary ’15 replaced Ford in the sixth and allowed an additional run. Yale was unable to score in the seventh and fell 8–2.

Dartmouth came on strong against starting pitcher Michael Coleman ’14, as the Big Green’s second batter tripled to drive in a run and then scored on a throwing error to take a 2–0 lead within minutes of the first pitch.

Yale remained scoreless until the seventh, when Baldwin went after the first pitch he saw and belted his second home run of the year to left field.

Dartmouth, meanwhile, tallied four more runs in the third off Coleman and another five off Yale’s relief pitchers in the remainder of the game.

Coleman exited the game in the fifth and finished with six runs allowed, five earned, one strikeout and eight hits in four innings pitched.

Yale manufactured two more runs in the eighth, but the damage had been done. The Bulldogs ended the game with two men left on base and a final score of 12–3.

In game two on Sunday, starter David Hickey ’14 followed Lanham’s performance by holding the Big Green to four runs through six innings. The outing would have earned the win with Yale’s six runs in the first game of the day, but the Bulldogs could only put up two for Hickey in that contest.

Both teams were scoreless through four frames, and designated hitter Richard Slenker ’17 took the initial lead for Yale in the fifth with a double that scored right fielder David Toups ’15 and Hanson.

But Dartmouth came roaring back with runs in three consecutive innings to take the 4–2 lead and the eventual win. Relief pitcher Chris Moates ’16 shut Dartmouth down in the seventh and eighth, increasing his count of consecutive scoreless innings to 6.2.

Despite the three losses over the weekend, players on the team remained positive going forward.

“We have a one game lead, with six out of our final eight [Ivy contests] at home,” Baldwin said. “If we would have been placed in this situation before the season started, I think almost everyone on the team would have taken it.”

Yale will host Sacred Heart tomorrow afternoon. More important, however, is a key four-game series at home against Harvard this upcoming weekend.

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