The Yale men’s baseball team may be young, but it has no shortage of talent.
With nine freshmen, the Elis have a rising crop of young talent that they are cultivating into winners.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys in the line-up with great talent and they’re getting great experience,” outfielder Josh Zabar ’06 said.
The Bulldog roster consists of three seniors, three juniors, 10 sophomores and nine freshmen. With a roster that young, Yale is bound to make some rookie mistakes. In high pressure situations, its youthfulness leaks through.
In the seventh inning of Sunday’s first game against Albany, second baseman Justin Ankney ’07 got his glove on the ball on a sharp hit to second base, but could not pull the ball out fast enough to stop the tying run at the plate and had to settle for an out at first instead. The Great Danes went on to win by one run 3-2 in extra innings. Defensively, the young Elis need to develop the ability to make clutch plays to take the win.
“There’s some plays in the field where guys don’t exactly know where to go or what to do during a stressful situation, and that’s only because they’re not experienced with it,” center fielder Eric Rasmussen ’06 said.
Inexperience has also made the difference in pitching. Though the freshmen pitchers have thrown a couple of impressive games, they still have some things to learn.
“In high school, guys were able to throw belt-high fastballs by the opposition,” Rasmussen said. “Since that doesn’t work anymore, belt-high pitchers are learning to adjust, they’re learning to hit spots.”
Yet talent is there.
“[The freshmen] are some of the most talented players on the team by far,” Zabar said.
Ankney hit once in three at-bats in both games on Sunday, despite the strong pitching of Great Dane pitchers Kyle Thomas and Nick Murphy. Ankney also hit one home-run in each of the two games against Albany Saturday
Outfielder Jake Doyle ’07 had two RBIs and hit 3-for-6 in Sunday’s double-header and has hit seven times in his last 11 at-bats.
First baseman Marc Sawyer ’07 bats .354 and hit a home run Mar. 15 against Fairleigh Dickinson.
Pitchers Mike Mongiardini ’07 and Chris Winkler ’07 have also shown promise. Winkler had his first collegiate win against Holy Cross March 13, striking out four and allowing three runs in five and a third innings. Mongiardini is the Elis’ only left-handed pitcher and has been relied on to carry the team in certain situations.
“Mongiardini has thrown the ball well,” Zabar said. “He’s the only lefty pitcher on our team, it puts more pressure on him and he’s been there all year consistently working.”
With the few veterans around to guide them, the young Bulldogs have continued to develop their abilities. The interaction between upperclassmen and freshmen has helped the Elis improve.
“The upperclassmen share their advice from their experience, and our captain [Randy Leonard ’04] does a real good job helping us out and basically giving us advice,” Ankney said.
Most of all, Ankney is confident that the freshmen will continue to produce and is not too worried about his team’s alleged “inexperience.”
“It doesn’t really bother me that we have a young team,” he said. “It’s not a negative thing. I think that we bring a lot to the ball club and it’s going to help build this program.”
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