Politz goes the distance as Yale upsets Cornhuskers

By Matthew Stock | Posted on, 7:03 p.m.
Scott Politz ’19 held Nebraska to just one run in a 124-pitch, nine-inning complete game. (Yale Athletics)

A set of close losses to top-ranked teams and a dominant Ivy League campaign brought the 2017 Yale baseball team into the NCAA tournament’s Corvallis, Oregon regional with many spectators wondering about the Bulldogs’ true legitimacy on the national stage. The Blue wasted no time in asserting themselves on Friday afternoon against a stalwart Power Five–conference opponent, combining early ammunition with lockdown pitching in a 5–1 upset win over No. 2-seeded Nebraska.

The Elis’ jumped on the Cornhuskers’ Jake Meyers early at Oregon State’s Goss Stadium at Coleman Field and never looked back, pounding out 12 hits in the ballgame and plating runs in four different innings. On the flip side, ace Scott Politz ’19 picked up his first-team All-Ivy campaign right where he left off, going the distance while scattering just six hits and a lone earned run.

The Ivy League’s top run-producing lineup struck for two quick runs in the top of the first innings, loading the bases with three singles before first baseman Griffin Dey ’19 shot a grounder back up the middle to score centerfielder Tim DeGraw ’19 and second baseman Simon Whiteman ’19. The Bulldogs continued to apply pressure on the Big Ten regular-season champions in the second, when catcher Andrew Herrera ’17 opened the frame by crushing a 3–1 offering well over the left field fence for his fourth homer of the season.

Despite recording a single and scoring a run of his own in the bottom of the first inning, Meyers — a finalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award — turned in a forgettable afternoon on the hill for Nebraska, giving up five earned runs on nine hits in just 5.2 innings. The junior righthander, who did not throw with exceptional velocity, struggled to keep the ball low in the strike zone and out of reach. Yale hitters up and down the batting order turned elevated fastballs into base hits, and consistently kept runners in scoring position.

Politz, meanwhile, dazzled in Yale’s first trip to the national tournament since 1993. The Austin, Texas native induced a bevy of soft contact throughout his 124-pitch outing, relying on airtight defense from all four infielders for 15 of the game’s outs. In addition to the routine plays, Politz and his teammates around the horn provided several defensive gems: Dey left his feet to snare a scorching liner off the bat of left fielder Mojo Hagge to end the fourth inning, and the pitcher helped his own cause with a kick save to start a 1-4-3 putout in the seventh.

Nebraska reliever Robbie Palkert contributed six strikeouts in 3.1 scoreless innings to effectively counter Politz for the second half of the ballgame, but the Cornhuskers, time and again, failed to break the resolve of Yale’s top arm. Leading 5–1 in the ninth inning, Politz sat down the final three batters of the afternoon in order to put the final touches on his NCAA Division I–leading seventh complete game.

With the win, Yale moves into the winners’ bracket of the Corvallis regional. The Bulldogs will play the winner of tonight’s matchup between No. 1 overall seed Oregon State and Holy Cross on Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET.

Friday’s full box score can be found here.

 

UPDATED: Oregon State defeated Holy Cross 8–2 on Friday night, advancing to the Corvallis winners’ bracket with Yale. Holy Cross will face Nebraska in the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination regional.