With enthusiasm, determination and dominance, the baseball team took another big step on the trail to the Ivy League crown.
The Bulldogs (16-11, 5-1 Ivy), swept a doubleheader against the Cornell Big Red (5-13, 1-3) yesterday at Yale Field, keeping pace with Harvard and Brown for the lead in the Ivy League. The Elis won, 7-0 and 5-4.
Though the team had been criticized in the past week for having a somewhat aloof demeanor on the field, it came out of the gates ready to impress on Sunday afternoon. Yale assistant coach Bill Asermely ’93 said there was a whole different feel to Sunday’s doubleheader.
“It sounds funny, but when we came out here at 8:45 to pull the tarp, I could tell they were ready to go,” Asermely said.
In the seven-inning matinee, captain Alec Smith ’06 turned in arguably the best performance of his college career. Smith spun a complete game three-hit shutout with eight strikeouts. He worked quickly and efficiently, dominating Big Red hitters with both his fastball and breaking pitches.
“Today I was focused on going after hitters,” Smith said. “We put up runs early, and played great defense. That’s how to win ballgames.”
Though the Bulldogs hitters scored the only run they needed in the first inning, they continued their impressive offensive season by putting six more on the board. P.J. Gorynski ’08 led the charge with a 3-for-4 performance, which included the second baseman’s first career home run, an opposite field bomb down the right field line.
The only major setback of the first game had nothing to do with the final score. Shortstop Justin Ankney ’06 dislocated his shoulder sliding into first to beat a pickoff throw in the sixth inning. Ankney left the game and was replaced by Dan Soltman ’08.
The second game began rather quietly. Eli batters swung early in counts against Cornell starter Bryce Klinesteker, allowing him to work four perfect innings before finally giving up a hit in the fifth.
Meanwhile, Mike Mongiardini ’07 was on the hill for the Bulldogs. The lefty did not have his best stuff velocity-wise, but used movement and location to keep the Bulldogs in the game. Mongiardini left in the fifth inning with Yale down, 4-0, although only two of his runs were earned.
Yale’s bats finally showed signs of life in the sixth inning. Soltman, who had started in place of the injured Ankney, walked and was eventually plated by a Marc Sawyer ’07 double, extending the first baseman’s hitting streak to 16 games. Soltman again proved essential to Yale’s rally in the next inning, when the utilityman crushed an RBI triple to left field to bring the Bulldogs back within a run.
“We battled great out there today,” Soltman said. “We played with heart, and that’s what we need to do.”
The hitting heroics of the seventh inning were not the only success story of the day. After Mongiardini exited the game, he was replaced by John Henry Davis ’08, and later Matt Fealey ’06. Both Davis and Fealey were practically unhittable. Davis commanded his hard fastball and biting breaking ball with ease, tossing three scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Fealey was even more successful, striking out five over three shutout frames to eventually earn the win. Fealey’s deadly combination of slider and two-seam fastball kept even Cornell’s best hitters wishing they hadn’t made the trip.
This lights-out relief set the stage for a dramatic finish as Yale took the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, third baseman Pedro Obregon ’07 stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a hard chopper to second base, scoring the winning run and capping off an impressive comeback, which should provide much-needed momentum for the series ahead.
The Bulldogs hope to continue their domination on the mound and at the plate against Princeton today at Yale Field.