After a rough non-conference schedule to open the season, Yale baseball started off its 2008 Ivy League schedule on the right foot.
In the midst of a three-game losing streak — all loses by one run — the Bulldogs (8-15-1, 2-1-1 Ivy) were able to come away with two wins, a loss and a rare suspended game over the weekend against Penn (7-9-1, 1-2-1) and Columbia (7-15, 3-1).
Plagued by errors and other avoidable mistakes, the Bulldogs came into the weekend hoping to change course for the Ivy League season.
“[Head coach John Stupor] talked to us about minimizing momentum changers like hit batsman, walks and errors,” center fielder Josh Cox ’08 explained. “We need to minimize those momentum changers as much as we can and that’s what we looked to do this weekend.”
The Elis began the weekend in Philadelphia against the Quakers and experienced a baseball rarity: a tie. Because both Saturday contests went into extra innings, the second game was suspended due to darkness in the 11th inning. It will be resumed at the end of the season only if it would have a significant impact on the standings.
The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader turned out to be a pitcher’s duel between Brian Irving ’08 and Penn’s Jeremy Maas.
Irving allowed one run on five hits, struck out four Quakers and walked five in 6.1 innings. Maas had an even more impressive stat line. The Quaker pitched into extra innings, going 7.1 innings, scattering six hits, striking out six, walking five and allowing a lone, unearned run.
“Our pitching kept us in the game,” Vinny Lally ’11 said. “The bats came through when we needed them to.”
Despite a few scoring threats throughout the game for both teams, the game went into the ninth tied at one. Yale had scored its only run on an Andy Megee ’11 sacrifice fly in the top of the second. Penn’s lone run came from a William Gordon RBI double down the left field line.
The Bulldogs then blew the game open in the top of the ninth. P.J. Gorynski ’08 opened the top half of the ninth with a double. Instead of dealing with the hot bat of Ryan Lavarnway ’09, Quaker pitcher Reid Terry intentionally walked the slugger.
After Andrew Kolmar ’11 flew out, Chris Sweeney ’10 lined out to Quaker second baseman Steve Gable who tried to double off Lavarnway at first but saw his throw get away from the Penn first baseman. As a result of the miscue, Gorynski scored Yale’s second run. The Bulldogs then put three more on the board with two doubles and a passed ball.
Despite two singles in the bottom of the ninth, closer Steve Gilman ’08 was able to close the deal and earn his first win of the season.
Game two was unusual. In addition to a 9-9 ending, the game saw an abundance of late offense after a game one-like pitcher’s duel for eight innings.
Columbia held a 1-0 lead until the eighth when the Bulldogs erupted for seven runs. The floodgates opened with a three-run shot off of Lavarnway’s bat.
After the Elis posted four more runs, the Quakers made a comeback of their own. Chris Walsh ’09 allowed three consecutive singles to start the inning and then hit the next batter he faced. John Henry Davis ’08 then came in to relieve Walsh but found his own trouble. The Quakers eventually tied the game at seven to force the affair into extra innings.
After Gorynski opened the eleventh with a single, Lavarnway hit his second home run of the game to give the Bulldogs a 9-7 lead.
But the Bulldogs couldn’t hold onto the lead in the bottom of the 11th. With two outs, Penn’s Jeff Cellucci walked. Two singles later and the game was tied at nine.
The umpires then decided it was too dark to complete another inning and suspended the game. The game has no impact on the standings and will only be resumed at the end of the season if it will have an effect on the standings. The game’s statistics are official, however.
“It was a bit of a weird finish,” Gorynski said. “I’ve never been in a tie so that was a little different.”
In day two of the weekend trip, the Elis found themselves in New York to play the Lions. The Bulldogs won game one, 7-2, behind more offense from Lavarnway.
The slugger had an RBI single in a Yale four-run first inning. Lavarnway then hit a two-out, two-run home run in the fourth to extend the Bulldog lead to six.
Chris Finneran shut the Lions down, pitching six innings allowing only one run on five hits, striking out three, and walking two to earn his first collegiate win.
In game two, the Lions were the ones to get off to a quick start, scoring one in the third, three in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
The Elis then proceeded to score five runs over the final four innings fueled by seven singles. Down 6-5 going into the ninth, the Bulldogs couldn’t muster another run and force a third extra inning game this weekend, and were retired in order.
Despite the close loss, the Bulldogs won two, with the possibility of winning a third if resumed later on this season.
Yale next takes the field at Quinnipiac (5-9) on Wednesday before taking on Princeton (10-11, 2-2) and Cornell (6-10, 0-2) to open their home slate next weekend.