With the memories of teammates Nicholas Grass ’05 and Kyle Burnat ’04 on their minds, the baseball team (5-7) began its season with a weeklong trip to Bradenton, Fla., and returned to the Northeast this weekend.
The Bulldogs went 3-4 in the Sunshine State and 2-2 over the weekend against New York Institute of Technology and Pace University.
Grass and Burnat, both pitchers, were two of the four Yale students who died in January’s tragic car accident on Interstate 95.
“It’s nice to be together on the field playing like we are,” All-Ivy League outfielder Chris Elkins said. “We’re going out there playing hard everyday for those two guys.”
Despite early uncertainties regarding the team’s pitching because of Burnat’s and Grass’ deaths and the graduation of three pitchers, including major league draft picks Matt McCarthy ’02 and Craig Breslow ’02, Yale’s moundsmen have performed well thus far.
“Pitching has been the one constant on our team,” Elkins said. “Nobody really [has] had a bad outing.”
On March 22 in a double header in Old Westbury, N.Y., the Elis swept NYIT, winning 5-4 and 7-4.
In the first game, Elkins drove in two runs. In the second, Josh Zabar ’06 stole home. Mike Elias ’05 got the victory, going five innings and giving up only one earned run to the Bears.
In the second game, Yale scored four runs in the ninth to get the come from behind victory. Elkins and C.J. Orrico ’05 each had two-run singles to give the Elis the lead for good. Josh Sowers ’05 struck out nine in eight innings of work.
“[Saturday] we played great,” Elkins said. “We found a way to win those games.”
In Florida, the Elis got off on the wrong foot, losing their first game March 11 to the University of Rhode Island, 5-0. The Rams’ Dan Frederick pitched a complete game shutout, giving up only five hits, all singles. Mike Elias ’05 took the loss, going 5.2 innings.
Yale’s offense showed the next day. The Bulldogs beat the University of Miami of Ohio 10-4. Mike Gulker ’04 led the way, going 3-5 with two RBIs and one run scored.
On March 15, the Elis got back on track with an 8-3 win over Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Elias put in a solid performance for the win, going six innings and giving up only one earned run with five strikeouts along the way. Zabar paced Yale on offense with 2 RBIs.
After their game March 17 against the University of Vermont was suspended because of weather, the Bulldogs were back in action the next day against the University of Massachusetts.
John Janco ’06 gave up the Minutemen’s only run en route to the victory, and Adam Barrick ’05 and Alec Smith ’06 combined for three innings of shutout relief. The win was the Elis best game of the trip, with strong hitting, pitching and defense, Elkins said.