A bottom of the ninth rally almost cost the streaky Yale baseball team its otherwise perfect game. Almost.

The Elis (15-15, 8-4 Ivy) survived a four-run Fairfield rally in the ninth to win 6-4 Wednesday. The Bulldogs have now won seven of their last eight games.

“We didn’t play our best, but we found a way to win,” catcher Eric Rasmussen ’06 said. “That’s what good teams do.”

Before the last inning, the combination of Eli pitchers Colin Ward-Henninger ’05, Zac Bradley ’06 and Jon Hollis ’06 suffocated the Stags with eight shutout innings.

Starter Ward-Henninger began the game with four shutout innings, and Bradley and Hollis followed with two each. But in the ninth inning Brett Rosenthal ’07 gave up four runs to the Fairfield offense before Yale reliever Matt Fealey ’06 finally stopped the bleeding with a fly out.

“We played a little sloppy late in the game and gave them a chance to creep back in the game,” Leonard said. “We found a way to close it out though, and that’s all that matters.”

Ward-Henniger allowed only four hits in four innings. His outstanding start came only one day after he earned his first collegiate win against Hartford yesterday.

“Colin [Ward-Henniger] was definitely a key part of today’s game,” Leonard said. “When pitchers are throwing well like that, the team just kind of follows suit.”

The Elis first got on the scoreboard when John Janco ’06 drove in Leonard off a ground-out in the fourth. Then in the sixth, first baseman Marc Sawyer ’07 doubled to left field to drive in second baseman Justin Ankney ’07. Two scoreless innings followed for both teams, but Eli third baseman Pedro Obregon ’07 ended the drought with a triple to left center field with bases loaded for three RBIs. Later in the inning, a wild pitch brought Obregon home for the final insurance run. With the ninth-inning collapse, Obregon’s triple was what eventually made the difference.

“Pedro Obregon’s triple gave us the big lead and allowed us to win even though we didn’t play well the last inning,” left fielder C.J. Orrico ’05 said.

Because of the solid pitching from deeper inside the pitching rotation, the Bulldogs were able to save starters Josh Sowers ’05 and Alec Smith ’06 for the upcoming weekend matchup at Dartmouth.

The Big Green (18-11, 9-3) is first in the Red Rolfe division. With Yale and Harvard (15-14, 8-4) both tied for second, this weekend will be crucial in determining who will go to the Ivy League Championship Series. The Bulldogs play two doubleheaders against Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., while the Crimson look to take away four from Brown in Cambridge, Mass.

Leonard said he expects Yale’s series against Dartmouth to be a competitive one.

“[Dartmouth is] in first place, we are in second, so it will basically come down to who can execute better because we seem to be pretty evenly matched,” he said. “They’ll be at home and having a lot to play for so we need to come in there ready from the get-go.”

Against a team like the Big Green, the Bulldogs are still worried about the slowness of their offense in their last two wins against Fairfield and Hartford.

“We have had two games in which we have come out slowly with the bats and we know that, against Dartmouth, we are going to have to swing the bats early and often,” Rasmussen said.

This is especially true because in last year’s series match-up against Dartmouth, the Big won three of their four-game series, scoring 46 runs in the process.