What a difference a year makes.

Last year the baseball team was 4–6 over spring break. This year the Bulldogs finished 9–4–1.

The Elis began the season March 7 with a 7–3 win over Maryland-Baltimore County and ended their break with a doubleheader sweep at Hartford, including a two-hit, complete game shutout thrown by rookie pitcher Brook Hart ’11 in a 10–0 victory Saturday.

“Brook was outstanding,” head coach John Stuper said. “He got ahead of batters and threw strikes with his breaking pitches as well as his fastball. He really set a tone for the day.”

After going 3–0 against UMBC, Yale traveled to Florida for the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational, where they went 3–3–1 over eight days against seven different teams.

Despite starting to a 1–2–1 in the invitational, the Elis rebounded with a pair of victories against two defending league champions.

On March 14, powered by four hits, Yale staged a four-run seventh inning rally to take a 7–5 lead, en route to a 9–6 victory over Army. Right-hander Greg Lyons ’12 threw the final three and two-thirds innings for Yale, allowing one run to last year’s Patriot League champions.

“We beat a very good baseball team,” Stuper said in a press release. “Greg Lyons continues to throw extremely well out of the bullpen.”

The next day shortstop Trey Rallis ’11 went 3-for-3 with a home run to lead the Elis over Indiana, last year’s Big Ten Conference Tournament champion. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 9–0 lead through three innings after home runs by Rallis, first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth ’10, and right fielder Andrew Kolmar ’11. Yale went on to hold onto the 10-6 victory in Winter Haven, Fla.

But despite the two key victories, the trip to Florida ended on a sour note for the Bulldogs, who lost 11–6 to Bucknell. The game was tied 5–5 through five innings, but the Bison scored six in their next three innings, getting two off of Chris Finneran ’10 and three off of Eric Shultz ’12.

“We were a bit flat against a good team,” Stuper said. “Maybe we were tired, but Ivy League weekends are long, and we need to learn to persevere.”

Three days later, after a tough 8–7 loss at Hartford in the tenth inning, Yale responded with three consecutive victories against the Hawks.

The four-game series against Hartford was capped off by a complete game shutout from Hart. In Saturday’s 10–0 victory, Hart started off the day by striking out the side in the first inning.

After allowing two hits in the first two innings, Hart was perfect from then on, allowing zero hits and zero walks. Hart finished with eight strikeouts and is now 2–0 on the season with a 2.70 ERA in four appearances, including three starts.

“Coach Stuper had been working really hard to get me to develop my slider,” Hart said. “It just all came together [on Saturday].”

In addition to an improved pitching staff, Yale has five batters batting over .375 so far. Last year, the Bulldogs did not have any players that hit over .345.

The Elis will try to build upon their three-game win streak when they visit UConn on Wednesday.

They start home play next Saturday with a double-header against the New York Institute of Technology.