In the final tune-ups before the start of Ivy League play, the Yale baseball team dropped consecutive games to in-state rivals Connecticut and Quinnipiac.
The Bulldogs (6–6, 0–0 Ivy) were unable to continue their hot hitting — Yale boasts the Ivy League’s best batting average — against Connecticut (15–8, 0–0 American Athletic) on Tuesday night, managing just three hits in an 18–1 loss. Against Quinnipiac (5–14, 2–1 Metro Atlantic Athletic), the Elis had their opportunities to score, but they plated just three runs, leaving 12 runners on base throughout the 11–3 defeat.
“There were some real positives to take away from the last two games, and that’s what we are focused on as we head into Ivy play this weekend,” second baseman Nate Adams ’16 said. “Even after the rocky start against Quinnipiac, we brought high energy and intensity to the field, which is definitely something that we wish to continue.”
A slow start doomed Yale on both nights, as the Bulldogs allowed 12 runs in the first inning of both games combined. The Huskies had little trouble against the Elis’ pitching, as their lineup batted around in the opening frame to score five runs. Eight of the nine starters for Connecticut notched at least one hit in the game.
Still, two Yale pitchers had impressive showings against the Huskies: righties Chris Lanham ’16 and Tyler Duncan ’18. Both entered the game in relief and quieted the Connecticut offense, scattering a combined five hits and one earned run over 4.2 innings.
“As [with] all of my outings, I’ve found that the key is to make quality pitches low in the strike zone and let the defense work behind me,” said Lanham, a second-team All-Ivy selection in 2014. ”We have done a great job in the field this year, and [that] was the case against UConn as well.”
Yale suffered defeat again the next night against the Bobcats, in large part due to a seven-run outburst, capped by a grand slam, by Quinnipiac to start the game. Every Bobcat starter recorded a base hit in Quinnipiac’s best offensive game this season.
Although the Elis trailed early, the Bulldogs had plenty of opportunities to cut the deficit. Yale loaded the bases with just one out while trailing 8–1 in the bottom of the fourth inning but was unable to push across a run after catcher Andrew Herrera ’17 popped up and center fielder Green Campbell ’15 grounded out to third. Another chance arrived in the eighth, as a trio of walks put pressure on the Bobcats’ pitching. The Elis, however, failed to capitalize and could not score on a timely hit.
“We just have to keep swinging. Hitting isn’t easy; it is not always consistent,” right fielder David Toups ’15 said. “If we keep it simple and don’t try and do too much, I’m confident we will be able to capitalize on our opportunities at the plate.”
Third baseman Richard Slenker ’17 agreed, adding that the Elis need to remain true to their coaches’ advice and stay aggressive early in the count.
Three Bulldogs recorded multi-hit games against Quinnipiac — Toups, Adams and Slenker. Pitcher Chasen Ford ’17 also had a solid day on the mound, allowing three earned runs in 4.1 innings of relief.
As Ivy League play rapidly approaches, Slenker noted that the team has many things it can improve on.
“We have given up too many free bases to the other team defensively,” Slenker said. “It is imperative that we get the leadoff runner out because it really limits what an offense can do in that inning.”
With those non-conference games in the rearview mirror, Yale now turns its attention to Cornell and Princeton to start the conference season.
The Big Red (3–11, 0–0 Ivy) finished 9–11 in Ivy League play last season, for third place in the Lou Gehrig division. Cornell currently boasts three of the top-five pitchers in the conference, all with earned run averages of under 2.00, who the Elis will likely have to face during the doubleheader this weekend. Cornell, however, struggles offensively, as evidenced by the team’s 0.220 batting average and 0.293 on base percentage. Regardless, the Bulldogs will need to look out for infielder Kevin Tatum, who currently leads the team with a 0.333 batting average.
Princeton (3–14, 0–0) enters Monday’s doubleheader having finished last in the Lou Gehrig division, one game behind Cornell, a year ago. This season, the Tigers possess the third-worst ERA in the conference (7.37), but their biggest bugaboo has been their penchant to allow extra-base hits, as they rank last in the Ivy League in home runs allowed (13) and triples allowed (10). Princeton also leads the conference in strikeouts, a dubious distinction that bodes well for the Eli pitching staff.
Despite the losses, however, Yale hopes to rebound for the conference season.
“Remember, everyone’s record heading into this weekend is 0–0,” Toups said. “It’s an exciting time, and we are ready to start Ivy League play.”
Due to inclement weather, both doubleheaders were pushed back, with the games against Cornell starting at noon on Sunday and first pitch against Princeton coming at noon on Monday.