After going 2-4 over spring break at the Homestead Challenge in Homestead, Fla., then enduring a weekend of game cancellations and a 7-5 loss to Manhattan College Tuesday, the baseball team finally got a well-needed and well-earned point in the win column Wednesday. It just took four and a half innings and 15 bags of Quick-Dry on Yale Field’s infield to pull it off.
The Bulldogs (3-5) defeated cross-town rivals Quinnipiac (2-6) 9-5 yesterday after officials called the game in the top of the fifth inning because of rain, giving the Elis their second victory over the Braves in as many meetings.
“The weather was bad, but a win is a win,” said Chris Elkins ’03, who scored twice in four at-bats.
The Elis caught a break early and scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning, capitalizing on some shaky pitching by Braves starter Tim Trama. After being walked, then advancing a base on a wild pitch, Ivy League Rookie of the Week Randy Leonard ’04 eventually scored the game’s first run on a single by Darren Beasley ’03.
Then team captain R. D. DeSantis ’01 made his way around the bases after being walked, ultimately scoring on an error. First baseman Justin Walters ’03 scored next on a Steven Duke ’03 single, and the scoring blitz came to a close as senior Luis Costa took home on a fielding error resulting from Duke stealing second.
“It’s a play we use with men on first and third, to put pressure on the defense,” Costa said. “The shortstop missed [the pick-off attempt], so I scored pretty easily.”
When the first inning came to its close, the Elis were up 4-0 on only three hits, and Quinnipiac was charged with two errors. The Bulldogs finished the game error-free.
“One of our goals was no errors this game,” Costa said. “And we accomplished that.”
Unlike the Braves, who struggled to find an effective pitcher, going through three men on the mound, Yale head coach Jon Stuper stuck with his starter Matt McCarthy ’02, who only surrendered three runs in the first four innings.
But McCarthy’s early dominance did not last, and Quinnipiac threatened the Elis’ 7-3 lead in the top of the fifth. After striking out Quinnipiac first baseman Rob Garrett, the Braves loaded the bases for Sal Puccio. With two outs, Puccio connected for a grand slam, which delighted the five remaining Quinnipiac fans still enduring the rain.
McCarthy maintained his composure, though, finishing off the abridged game with another strikeout. McCarthy had six strikeouts on the day and surrendered only seven hits.
The hard-fought win comes just a day after a disappointing 7-5 loss to Manhattan College at Yale Field.
Two error-filled innings, the third and the fourth, in which the Bulldogs gave up all seven runs, spoiled what was otherwise an impressive Eli pitching performance. In those two innings, Yale committed a total of four errors.
The day’s bright spots for the Bulldogs came on the mound. Starter Jon Steits ’02 gave up only four hits in so many innings, and reliever Craig Breslow ’02 notched nine strikeouts and only one hit in the remaining five innings.
The one-two punch of starting pitchers in Steitz and McCarthy is one the Bulldogs have been counting on all season.
“Any time we have those two on the mound, I’m confident,” DeSantis said.
There are encouraging signs from all aspects of the squad’s game so far this season. Pitching is just one element. With the veterans on the staff getting healthy, the Bulldogs’ consistency on the mound is sure to improve. Bats came alive in Florida, including those of the underclassmen. And yesterday, they proved that they could win error-free.
“Now everyone knows what they have to do to win,” Costa said. “Everyone’s on the same page.”
The Bulldogs hope to carry the momentum from yesterday’s win into Saturday’s doubleheader at Pace.
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