In its second try of the day against Pace (3-7) Saturday, the baseball team put together the closest thing it has seen to a complete team effort so far this season.
With virtually flawless pitching by Jon Steitz ’02, solid field play and adequate bats for the Bulldogs (4-6), Pace never had a chance to get something started. Yale defeated the Setters in the second game 3-0, after falling 9-8 in the first game of the doubleheader.
Fielding woes left the Elis in a hole early in the first game. Tied 1-1, starter Doug Feller ’02 walked the first two batters of the second inning. An error by center fielder Chris Elkins ’03 allowed Frank Siano, the Setters’ leadoff hitter, to advance to third.
“I was charging out of control, trying to get the man out at third,” Elkins said. “And I just missed the ball.”
Then another error by captain R.D. DeSantis ’01 sent Siano home. Feller recovered to strike out Pace’s John Green, but an RBI single by the next batter made the score 3-1 at the end of two innings.
The Bulldogs took the lead in the third inning. After reaching base on a double to left-center field, Elkins scored on an error by the Setters’ center fielder. Then with one out, an RBI single by Darren Beasley ’03 drove in Randy Leonard ’04.
Steven Duke ’03 came to the plate with two outs and runners on the corners. A single to right field brought in Beasley, but Duke and Kyle Misenti ’04 were left stranded when Mike Hirschfield ’03 grounded out to second to end the inning.
Then in the top of the fifth, the Setters’ bats came alive and the Elis faltered on the field simultaneously. A passed ball put Pace’s leadoff hitter, Marc Deluca, on first. With one out, he moved to third on a double by Siano. A ground out to third sent Deluca home. Then an error by Eli second baseman Duke allowed Siano to do the same. Three passed balls by relief pitcher Craig Breslow ’02 sent Setter runners around the bases, with Shelby Langford scoring his team’s sixth run of the game. An RBI double by Steve Martino ended the scoring for the inning. When it was all over, Yale had squandered its lead and was down 7-5.
Doug Shimokawa ’04 came on to pitch for Breslow in the sixth but was similarly ineffective. In that inning, he gave up two runs on just one hit. He threw a wild pitch, hit two batters and walked two more before being replaced by freshman Mike Boardman.
“Our pitching didn’t bail our defense out,” said Steitz, who started the second game. “We sleptwalk through the first game waiting for them to give us the game. Instead, we gave it to them.”
The Bulldogs mounted a comeback at the plate in the bottom of the sixth, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the four-run hole they dug for themselves in the previous two innings. Duke led off with a walk, and then Hirschfield singled. A clutch RBI single by Elkins sent Duke home.
A Leonard ground out to first set up a big play for DeSantis, moving Elkins to second and Hirschfield to third. With two outs and two men on, DeSantis smacked in a single, sending both runners home.
With the tying run on first, Beasley struck out swinging and left DeSantis–and the Bulldogs’ scoring rally–stranded.
Despite holding the Setters scoreless in their half of the seventh, the Elis’ bats fizzled in the bottom of the inning. Justin Walters ’03 and Misenti both grounded out. Duke sent one out of the infield, singling, but Hirschfield then also grounded out to end the game.
The Bulldogs headed into the locker room dejected, having squandered a lead and having failed to cash in the winning run during their only scoring rally.
But something happened in the locker room, and Yale returned in the second game of the doubleheader with new-found vigor.
Players said coach John Stuper gave them a talk in between games.
“He gave us a little pump-up speech,” Elkins said.
But then the team had a meeting of its own. It was a decision among teammates that really caused the change in attitude heading into the second half of the doubleheader.
“The first loss was pretty bad, so we had a little team meeting afterwards,” Steitz said. “We decided to get our heads in the game. It couldn’t get much worse than it was at that point.”
The Elis were clearly pumped up from the onset in the second contest — no one more so than starting pitcher Steitz. In seven innings, he allowed only three hits and struck out eight.
“R.D. told me to pitch a complete game,” Steitz said. “And I did that.”
Pace’s first hit came in the second inning, when Mike Bohlander led off with a double to left field. But Steitz struck back, sending Siano packing. After walking the next batter and seeing Bohlander move to third on a wild pitch, Steitz recomposed himself and dispatched the next two hitters with strikeouts, leaving the Setters’ scoring threat halted at the corners.
Steitz struck out two more in the third, and then in the fourth Pace went three up, three down.
Some crafty base running and a little luck put the Bulldogs on the board in their half of the fourth. Duke singled to right center after a ground out by Luis Costa ’01. He then stole second and continued to third on an error by Pace’s catcher. Next Hirschfield walked. When he successfully attempted to steal second, Duke was able to come home.
“Something happened at second,” Duke said. “The ball might have hit Hirsch’s leg, or he kicked it out of [the second baseman’s] glove, so I just took off for home.”
One run would be all Yale needed to win — thanks to the continued iron-clad performance on the mound by Steitz. But the Bulldogs weren’t done at the plate. In the sixth inning, with Keith Reams ’02 at second and Duke on third, Stuper called on Beasley to pinch hit for Blake Golom ’04.
And Beasley delivered with a double, sending both of his teammates home and increasing the score to 3-0. This would be the final score of the game. Leonard grounded out after an Elkins walk — ending the inning.
“Beasley hadn’t played all game, then this huge double pretty much put the game away,” Duke said. “Once we had more than a one-run lead, I was confident we’d win the game.”
In the seventh, Steitz and the Eli defense silenced the Setters, who were unable to make anything of a single by Doug Hehner. Steitz struck out the next batter, and a ground out secured Yale the win.
“I knew we needed a win heading into the Ivy League season,” Steitz said. “And this was the time to do it.”
The Bulldogs’ next contest comes Wednesday when they travel to Marist.