The men of Eli baseball had a rough weekend. Dartmouth swept the Bulldogs in Hanover, N.H., outscoring Yale 49-12.
The four losses this weekend took the Elis (15-19, 8-8 Ivy) out of statistical contention for the Red Rolfe division title, while Dartmouth (22-11, 13-3) opened up a two-game lead over second-place Harvard (18-15, 11-5).
“We obviously didn’t play as well as we could,” utility player Zac Bradley ’06 said. “We ran into a really good team. Sometimes there’s no defense for such a good offense.”
The Elis held the lead for just three innings out of the 32 played. (The day games of each Ivy doubleheader are seven innings; the night games are nine innings). The closest game may have been the biggest blow-out on paper — the nightcap on Saturday in which the Bulldogs lost 20-8.
Dartmouth jumped out early with three runs in the top of the third, including a two-run homer by shortstop Ed Lucas. Lucas went three for four for the night with four RBIs.
But Yale answered in its half of the fourth with three runs on a bases-loaded triple by outfielder C.J. Orrico ’05. When the Bulldogs came to the plate again in the fifth, utility player Matt Stone ’06 put the Elis ahead with a three-run blast over the left field fence.
The Big Green answered with a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth by catcher Brian Zurhellen, but the Elis still held onto a 6-4 Eli lead.
That all changed in the bottom of the sixth when the Big Green offense roared to life, plating seven runs on seven hits. The Bulldogs gave plenty of help to the Big Green offensive machine. Five of Dartmouth’s seven runs were unearned, courtesy of two passed balls, one wild pitch and one error.
“Dartmouth was a very good hitting team,” catcher Eric Rasmussen ’06 said. “They didn’t strike out much and always managed to put the ball in play. When you do that, hits will begin to fall, which happened with Dartmouth.”
The Elis failed to respond in the top of the seventh, and at the bottom of the inning what once was a battle quickly turned into a bludgeoning. The Big Green put up seven runs on seven hits and two Eli errors to take an 18-6 lead that proved insurmountable for the Bulldogs.
The early game that day was also a battle early on, but like the nightcap the Eli offense failed to keep up. Yale struck first with one run in the top of the second on right fielder Jake Doyle’s ’07 RBI single. Dartmouth scored next, putting two runs on the board in the third to make it 2-1. The Bulldogs answered with a run in the top of the fourth on a Rasmussen RBI single, but Dartmouth regained the lead with a run in the bottom half of the inning.
The Big Green opened things up in the bottom of the fifth with four runs on five hits, including a three-run blast by first baseman Jeff Speights. Yale scored once more in the top of the seventh, but it was not enough, and the Big Green took game one 7-3. The Elis’ 11 hits in the first game nearly matched the Big Green’s 13 hits, but Dartmouth put the ball in play at the right time.
“Our pitchers made some good pitches,” Rasmussen said. “But Dartmouth hit the ball really well.”
Timely hitting was a problem all weekend long for the Bulldogs, a fact painfully clear on Sunday. In game one, the Elis managed only one run on a respectable eight hits while Dartmouth scored 11 runs on just one more hit than Yale.
Eli righty Josh Sowers ’05, who has been solid all season long and is the team-leader with five victories, gave up eight earned runs in five innings of work. In the Big Green’s four-run third, Sowers walked the first two batters and later hit a batter to load the bases. Dartmouth right fielder Chris Grimm swept the bases clean with a three-RBI double.
After the rocky third, Sowers settled down, retiring seven of Dartmouth’s next eight hitters. But the Big Green could not be contained for long. Dartmouth hit up Sowers for four more runs on three hits in the bottom of the fifth. Yale’s lone run of the day came in the third inning on a Stone RBI single. Dartmouth’s Tim Grant pitched seven innings for the complete game victory, his fifth of the season. Grant gave up just one run on eight hits while striking out six.
Going into the last game of the series, Yale had to win to stay in mathematical contention for the Ivy playoffs. But the Bulldogs managed just four hits to Dartmouth’s 11. The Big Green scored once in the first and then scored two runs in each of the second, third, and fourth innings to go up 7-0. In the bottom of the sixth, Dartmouth’s Speights, who had a three-run blast in game one on Saturday, drove the stake into the Bulldog’s heart with a grand slam.
Stephen Perry pitched eight shut-out innings for the Big Green, giving up just four hits for his fifth victory of the season.
Yale dropped to .500 in the Ivy League and is now tied with Brown (13-21, 8-8) at the bottom of the Red Rolfe division. The Crimson and the Big Green will battle for a bid to the Ivy playoffs next weekend.
In their last series of the season the Elis will play host to Brown for a double-header this Saturday, and then travel to Providence for a double-header on Sunday.
“We can’t be too disappointed with how the season turned out,” righty Matt Fealey ’06 said. “Everyone realizes that the season isn’t over yet, and we still have a job to do next weekend.”