Despite tough competition, the Yale baseball team is doing everything in its power to stay in contention for the Ivy League championship.
Yale (17-12, 6-2 Ivy) split a doubleheader with Princeton on Monday at Yale Field, moving into a tie with Dartmouth for third place in the Red Rolfe division, despite being only one game behind Harvard and Brown. The Bulldogs picked up the 4-3 win before falling to the Tigers in the nightcap, 5-3.
In the first game, starter Jon Hollis ’06 improved to 4-1 on the season with his best start of the year. Though he didn’t have his strongest fastball, Hollis utilized impressive command of his breaking pitches to hurl five solid innings, striking out five and giving up only two earned runs on five hits and a walk.
“Other than a few mistake pitches I made in the third inning, that was the best I’ve felt all year.” Hollis said. “We made some plays, put up some runs, and our bullpen closed the door.”
The Elis jumped out to an early lead on a Pedro Obregon ’07 RBI single and a Dan Soltman ’08 sacrifice fly in the second inning. Princeton was able to tie the game in the top of the third, but Yale pushed across one run each in the fifth and sixth innings.
The Yale bullpen was again a force to be reckoned with. After Hollis tossed his five excellent frames, Yale head coach John Stuper elected to bring in Matt Fealey ’06, who had pitched multiple innings in the Cornell doubleheader on Sunday. Fealey pitched one and a third innings, striking out two but getting into trouble and giving up an unearned run.
Lefty specialist Adam Barrick ’06, sporting a zero ERA on the season, entered with runners on base and struck out right fielder Andrew Salini. Salini, Princeton’s leader in home runs and RBIs, was 0-4 with three strikeouts in the first game. He was later held out of the second game’s lineup as a disciplinary response to his negative outbursts during the game, such as sitting in a chair in the on-deck circle and standing in right field with his back to the plate.
For the final out, Stuper went to his closer. With the tying run 90 feet away, Brett Rosenthal ’07 induced a groundout to seal the win for the Elis. Rosenthal picked up his eighth save of the season — tying him for Yale’s all time single-season record — but said the team’s record was his only priority.
“I’m proud of that record because eight saves means eight wins I helped nail down for our team,” Rosenthal said. “Our team goals are much more important than any individual accomplishments.”
At the outset, the second game figured to be a high scoring match. The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning with the help of an Eli throwing error. In the bottom of the inning, Yale answered by scoring two runs off of Princeton’s starting pitcher Christian Staehely, who loaded the bases and then walked in a run.
After having Staehely on the ropes in the first inning, the Bulldog hitters seemed confident that they could tee off on his less than dominating stuff. Unfortunately for the Elis, this presumption worked against them, as Staehely worked around the strike zone enough to induce many groundouts and flyouts early in counts. Because the Bulldogs could not drive up his pitch count, Staehely stuck around until the eighth inning, giving up only two earned runs.
Chris Wietlispach ’06 worked a solid six innings, giving up only one earned run. Stuper again used his relief aces in concert to keep the Tigers’ lead to a minimum, but it was to no avail, as the Bulldogs went quietly in the ninth.
Though the weekend series against Ivy rival Harvard looms in the distance, the Bulldogs are taking their season one step at a time.
“We have two games this Wednesday, so that’s our first priority,” Obregon said. “As always, the pitchers need to throw strikes, the defense needs to make plays, and the lineup needs to put swings on good pitches to hit.”