After last week’s win over neighboring Sacred Heart, Yale’s baseball team looks to overcome its rival Harvard in consecutive doubleheaders this weekend.
The Bulldogs (19-12, 6-2 Ivy) defeated intrastate challengers Sacred Heart, 1-0 and 6-2, in a doubleheader on Wednesday at the Yale Field in a non-conference matchup. The team expects that Harvard (12-11-1, 7-1), the defending Ivy champions, will pose a greater challenge than its Connecticut neighbors.
“I think we are happy with our win against [Sacred Heart],” catcher Eric Rasmussen ’06 said. “We came out with more than we hoped for. Our pitching was very good and our defense was extremely strong.”
Mike Elias ’06 pitched five shutout innings in the first game, and Stefan Schropp ’09 followed the senior’s example in the second, pitching five shutout innings of his own.
“Both [Elias] and [Schropp] were phenomenal,” Rasmussen said. “They pitched really well, and that played a big part in our victory.”
But Schropp is not the only freshman to make an impression on this year’s squad. Third baseman/designated hitter Charles Bush ’09, right fielder Ryan Lavarnway ’09 and pitcher Chris Walsh ’09 have all made important contributions to the team this season, and team members said they expect the freshmen to do well against Harvard.
“Our freshmen have been playing well,” pitcher Matt Fealey ’06 said. “Everyone has just been doing what we’ve needed them to do. We have a good shot if we come out and play our best game and everyone continues playing the way they are.”
The team has been performing well recently, handily defeating Penn and Cornell and splitting doubleheaders against Princeton and Columbia.
“Everyone is pepped up and playing well,” Fealey said. “The guys are filling positions well. Some of the players who might not have had the chance to play at the beginning of the season have really stepped up.”
Although the Elis have been plagued with injuries — including to outfielder Zac Bradley ’06 and shortstop Justin Ankney ’07 — the team has been fortunate enough to have strong replacements.
“We’ve been having problems with injuries,” second baseman PJ Gorynski ’09 said. “[Shortstop Dan Soltman ’08] and [Bush] have stepped up and filled in and performed well. Hopefully, they’ve gained some experience that’ll help them against [Harvard].”
The team hopes to have gained valuable lessons from their victories, and players said they are looking forward to the game against the Crimson. Closer Brett Rosenthal ’07 said the team hopes for a good turnout.
“It always helps to play — every game counts,” Rosenthal said. “It’s a good chance for the guys to get some practice in game situations. We have some young guys playing the infield. Hopefully they gained some experience and we can carry the momentum into the weekend.”
Team members said they think Harvard will pose a challenge both offensively and defensively.
“[Harvard] is a really good team,” Rasmussen said. “They’ve always put a good team together on field and performed well. It’s going to be really competitive. Hopefully we’ll be able to come away on top.”
Several players said they are hopeful the victories against Sacred Heart have given them the confidence they need going into this weekend.
“It’s definitely great to get two wins going into a big weekend,” Fealey said. “The wins have given us momentum going into this. We just have to hit hard, pitch well and hope for the best.”