The baseball team’s seven-game winning streak came to an abrupt end this weekend as the Bulldogs had a hot-and-cold start in their first weekend of Ivy League action.
The Elis (12–10, 2–2 Ivy) started Ancient Eight play with two wins against Cornell (3–17, 1–3) and then dropped two consecutive games against Princeton (9–13, 4–0). However, Ivy foe Dartmouth (12–6, 2–2), who has won the conference title for the last two years, was swept by Penn (12–10, 4–0), keeping Yale tied for the top spot in the Red Rolfe division.
“We feel lucky to still be tied for first,” captain and third baseman Andy Megee ’11 said. “As well as we played yesterday [against Cornell], that’s how badly we played today [against Princeton].”
Heading into the games against Cornell, Yale was riding the momentum of five straight victories. Yale’s offense picked up where it had let off against Quinnipiac, scoring more than four runs for the 14th and 15th times this season.
The bullpen also set the tone against the Big Red, allowing only 13 hits in the two games combined.
In the first game, Vinny Lally ’11 hit all corners of the strike zone as he struck out 10 Big Red batters en route to his second complete game of the season, leading Yale to a 7–2 win.
The second game was a combined effort from the pitching staff. Pat Ludwig ’12 began the afternoon on the mound and struck out six batters. Eric Shultz ’12 stepped up in the ninth to seal his third save of the season, giving the team a 5–3 victory.
Shultz’s pitching was critical as the Big Red were on the verge of making a comeback in the second game with batters in scoring positions. After Cornell scored a run in the ninth inning, Kevin Fortunato ’14 walked a Big Red player that put the tying run on base with two outs. Shultz then came into the game and forced a ground out to end the contest.
“We hit great, played solid defense, and our pitching was phenomenal,” Megee said following the victories.
For the freshmen, the games were their first time playing against Ivy competition. In his debut, Cale Hanson ’14 had three runs in the doubleheader against Cornell.
“My first Ivy game felt like I was playing in the playoffs,” Hanson said. “Every run, hit and out felt so important. It is a loud atmosphere to play in and it makes winning feel all the better.”
But the situation was much different when Yale faced Princeton. The Tigers have struggled thus far in the season, however, none of those struggles were apparent as Princeton came out, hitting and pitching better than it had in its previous games.
In the first game, the Tigers scored five runs in the first three innings. Two more runs in the sixth inning ensured victory for the team. Yale scored a run in the seventh inning, but that would be it for the Bulldogs who went on to lose 7–1. The loss ended the team’s seven game winning streak, its longest since the 2005 season.
Megee said the team struggled on both the mound and at the plate in its defeats to Princeton. Brook Hart ’11 pitched the entire game and was unable to find the form on the mound that had gotten him off to a hot start this season. He had a 1.07 ERA through 25.1 innings pitched before the weekend, but allowed seven runs, four of which were earned, in six innings pitched in the game.
“I struggled to put people away,” Hart said. “They were just solid at the plate and took advantage of their opportunities.”
The Bulldogs got off to a better start in the second game but still could not notch a win against the Tigers. Yale held a 3–1 advantage going into the bottom of the seventh, but then allowed Princeton to score five runs.
The Elis were unable to respond and did not score a run for the remainder of the game, but not due to a lack of opportunity. The Elis had two runners in scoring positions, but were unable to get a hit to bring them home.
“We didn’t execute in big situations,” Lally said. “Defense had a few lapses, pitching walked too many and we weren’t able to get the big hit when we needed it. If we cleaned up our pitching and defense, those two games could have completely different outcomes.”
The team will be back in action early this week with a game against Northeastern on Tuesday and again against Sacred Heart on Wednesday.
“We just [need to] keep doing what we’re doing,” Megee said. “We just [need to] try and minimize the mistakes.”