Baseball is a game of inches, a fact that has dominated the beginning of Yale’s season.
Six of the Bulldogs’ first 15 games have been decided by a one-run margin, with Yale (4–10–1, 0–0 Ivy) dropping four of those contests.
“We’ve certainly been in all of those games,” second baseman David Toups ’15 said. “We’ve been playing hard. It just hasn’t gone our way. If we keep playing that way, things will turn around.”
In Saturday’s home-opening doubleheader, the Elis split with Stony Brook University (11–6, 0–0 American East), losing 2–1 in 11 innings before shutting out the Seawolves 1–0 in seven innings.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the game was even closer than the score. Pitcher Pat Ludwig ’12 threw eight and two-thirds scoreless innings, but Yale could not score, so the game went into extra innings, in which Stony Brook pushed a run across in the top of the 10th. Outfielder Charlie Neil ’12 knotted the score at one apiece with a line drive just past the outstretched glove of diving Stony Brook second baseman Max Tissenbaum. The Elis almost won the game on a flyout by Chris Piwinski ’13, but third baseman Green Campbell ’15 was called out at the plate attempting to score the winning run. The Seawolves then got the go-ahead run in the top of the 11th when infielder Cole Peragine’s single barely escaped through the hole on the second-base side.
Southpaw Rob Cerfolio ’14 pitched a gem of his own, tossing five scoreless innings in the second game. Yale was outhit 10 to one by Stony Brook, but Toups came through with a two-out single in the bottom of the sixth to give Yale the 1–0 advantage. Eric Shultz ’12 shut the Seawolves down in the final two frames to earn his first win of the season.
Although most of Yale’s games have been close, the season got off to a rocky start when the Bulldogs visited Virginia Tech (15–6, 2–4 ACC) March 3-4. The Hokies won by 10 or more runs in three of the four games, although the first game in the March 4 doubleheader saw the two teams tied heading into the bottom of the ninth before Tech centerfielder Andrew Rash hit a walk-off home run to beat the Elis 6–5.
“You schedule those games with big time teams like that to see that you cannot make a mistake,” pitcher and first baseman Kevin Fortunato ’14 said. “At that level if you make a mistake, it’s going to be a hit. They’re going to take advantage of it. [Virginia Tech] had a lot more games under their belts, but still it’s a very disappointing outcome.”
The Bulldogs then traveled south to Florida, where they found more success.
Yale notched its first victory of the season 3–2 against Georgetown in the RussMatt Invitational in Winter Haven, Fla. on March 7.
The Bulldogs also beat Bowling Green University and Lafayette University on the Florida trip and the efforts of individual Elis gained recognition.
Fortunato was named Ivy League Player of the Week and Toups was honored as Freshman of the Week on March 13. Fortunato hit .450 for the week with three doubles and the team’s lone homer of the year in addition to two saves as the closer. Toups hit .474 with three runs scored and two more batted in.
Toups was not the only freshman who has played a major role on the Bulldogs thus far. Pitchers Eric Hsieh ’15 and Ben Joseph ’15 have made starts for the Elis, and Green Campbell ’15 has seen time at third base as well as on the mound.
“[The freshmen] are going to get a shot to play right away,” captain and catcher Ryan Brenner ’12 said. “All of them are going to have to contribute.”
The Elis will take the field next at the University of Connecticut at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.