Winning was not the most important thing for the baseball team April 27 and 28.
On Sunday, the Burnat-Grass Baseball Complex was dedicated in honor of Nicholas Grass ’05 and Kyle Burnat ’05, both pitchers on the team who died tragically in January’s car accident on Interstate 95.
Following the ceremony, the Bulldogs (15-21, 5-11 Ivy) went to work against a tough Dartmouth team (15-16, 8-8), going 1-3. The losses eliminated the Elis from contention for the Red Rolfe Division title.
The Big Green offense abused the Eli’s pitching, averaging nearly 12 runs per game in the series. The Bulldogs’ offense heated up in games three and four, which included Yale’s only victory, a 5-4 thriller, but Dartmouth continued to swing away.
“Any time you give up so many runs you’re not happy,” captain Steven Duke ’03 said.
Dartmouth’s first five or six hitters were some of the best the Bulldogs’ pitching staff had seen all season, Alec Smith ’06 (4-2) said.
In the first game on Saturday, Big Green left fielder Scott Shirrell quadrupled the Bulldogs’ total offensive output, going 4-6 with eight RBIs and four runs scored, while Dartmouth routed the Elis 17-2.
Though Dartmouth took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, the Elis responded with a little help from two Dartmouth errors. Chris Elkins ’03, tied for the team lead in RBIs with 22, drove in Randy Leonard ’04, but that was the closest Yale came to victory.
In the top of the third, the Big Green offense exploded, manufacturing eight runs on 10 hits.
Eric Naison-Phillips ’03 (1-0) relieved starter Doug Shimokawa ’04 (1-3), but faired little better, surrendering three runs without getting any outs.
John Janco ’06 (1-3) replaced Naison-Phillips, but could not shut down the Big Green batsmen, who added four runs in the fifth and sixth innings to put the game out of reach.
Dartmouth starter Patrick Dowling did his part, pitching his second consecutive complete game, scattering nine hits and one earned run over seven innings.
In game two of the twin bill, Yale regrouped, mounting a comeback from three runs down in the fourth to win 5-4.
With the game knotted at four in the bottom of the ninth, Elkins drew a walk to start the inning. A SAC bunt by Eric Rasmussen ’06 moved Elkins to second, and then Mike Gulker ’05 drove in the winning run with a base hit to right field.
On the mound, Josh Sowers ’05 (5-2) turned in a strong performance, going eight innings, giving up four earned runs on nine hits.
Despite giving up runs early, Sowers settled down and was able to scatter Dartmouth’s hits with minimal damage, Smith said.
Smith picked up the win in relief, pitching a scoreless ninth.
While Shirrell led the Big Green on Sunday, Jeff Speights stepped up on Monday.
Speights went 6-9 in the twin bill with nine RBIs.
In game one, Dartmouth’s offense jumped all over Yale starter Mike Elias ’05 (3-4), scoring 10 earned runs on 11 hits in 3.2 innings.
On the mound for the Big Green, Tim Grant pitched a 13-hit, four-run complete game.
Several Elis had good days at the plate, as Leonard went 2-3, Elkins went 2-4, Dave Fortenbaugh ’03 went 2-3, Josh Zabar ’06 went 3-4, and Duke went 2-4.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs could not get hits with men on base, leaving 10 baserunners stranded in the game.
“We hit the ball real well,” Smith said. “We hit the ball well enough to win.”
Yale finally got to Dartmouth’s pitching staff in the series’ final game, but it was not enough, as the Elis fell 13-11.
“There were instances when we didn’t come through but at the same time we did score a lot of runs,” Duke said.
Leonard went 2-3 with three RBIs and Fortenbaugh hit a grand slam in the sixth.
Yale headed into the top of the eighth with an 11-9 lead, but Smith could not keep the Big Green off the board, as they scored four unanswered runs in the eighth and ninth innings to take the lead and ensure victory.
Big Green third basemen Mike Mileusnic went 6-6 with an RBI and three runs scored.
With the victory, Dartmouth is within one game of division leader Harvard (16-19, 9-7).
Today’s game against Hartford (4-25-1) has been cancelled and barring any additions to the schedule, the Bulldogs will return to action May 2 at Brown (14-26, 5-11).