Coming into his sophomore campaign, pitcher Vinny Lally ’11 had never made a collegiate start. During his freshman season with the baseball team, the southpaw made 23 appearances out of the bullpen and finished his rookie year at 1-1 with a 6.04 ERA. But this season has been different for the Tampa, Fla., native as Lally has cemented himself as the team’s No. 2 starter behind Brandon Josselyn ’09.

Thus far, Lally has started six of Yale’s 22 games and has appeared out of the bullpen twice. He leads the team in victories with three and has found his groove following a rough outing against Maryland-Baltimore County in early March. On March 28, Lally threw 6.1 innings of perfect baseball before surrendering a double in the seventh — just two outs short of a seven-inning perfect game.

In game one of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Sacred Heart, Lally allowed just one earned run, four hits and one walk over 6.2 innings — at one point retiring nine in a row — before giving way to the bullpen for the game’s final out.

The Elis will need more of the same down the stretch if they hope to climb out of the Red Rolfe Division basement and have a chance to play for the Ivy League championship.

Q: Last season you primarily came out of the bullpen but you are now the team’s No. 2 starter. Which role do you prefer?

A: It’s nice to start because I started in high school but I also liked the possibility of going in every game. There’s a lot more time in between starts and there’s preparation I got to do on my own time.

Q: How did it feel to almost throw a perfect game [on March 28 against Princeton]?

A: It’s the best game I’ve ever thrown, everything was working. Knowing after every inning that I hadn’t given anything up was a good feeling. The defense did a great job behind me; Matt Schmidt ’10 made the best play I’ve seen on college baseball when he made a play on a ball hit up the middle that I was sure was going to get through for a hit. Plays like that kept it going.

Q: When did you realize that you had a perfect game going, and were you thinking about it?

A: I knew after each inning that they hadn’t had a base runner but I didn’t start thinking about it until the last inning because it was such a close game. I was just trying to keep my team in it.

Q: Was that the closest you had ever come to throwing one?

A: In high school I threw five perfect innings before someone hit a bloop single, and I threw a no-hitter with two walks.

Q: You pitched great yesterday against Sacred Heart. What went well for you?

A: The first inning was probably the toughest because I wasn’t throwing my off-speed stuff for strikes and I got into a groove after that. I got the ball down, pitched to contact and minimized walks.

Q: A few key seniors graduated in May, such as Ryan Lavarnway, Josh Cox ’08, Steve Gilman ’08 and Brian Irving ’08. How have you guys been able to replace them?

A: We brought in a really strong class, which is good, but losing Lavarnway and Cox is tough; it’s impossible to replace those guys. They were two of the best in the conference and Gilman and Irvin, who are both playing professionally, were the anchors of our staff.

Q: Currently you guys are sitting in last place in the Red Rolfe Division. What do you guys need to work on to climb the standings and get a shot at the Ivy League title?

A: We need to just come out and play well every weekend. Our thing is to take every game one at a time instead of four games at once. That’s what we’re gonna try to do the rest of the way out — win the first game and go to the next.