The Yale baseball team has a challenging weekend ahead, as the top teams from the Lou Gehrig Division travel to New Haven for a pair of doubleheaders.
The Bulldogs’ (8–9, 2–2 Ivy) offense will have a tough task against the Ivy League’s top pitching staff in Penn (8–9, 3–1), which enters Saturday’s contests with an earned run average of 3.61. The Elis then face on Sunday the defending Ivy League champions, Columbia (11–10, 3–1), the only team with an overall record better than 0.500.
Yale will need to bounce back from a 5–2 extra-inning loss on Wednesday night against Hartford (8–14, 3–1 America East), in which the Bulldogs managed just two runs on six hits despite averaging 6.5 runs per game entering the day.
“We had the chance, and unfortunately [we] weren’t able to pull it out,” third baseman Richard Slenker ’17 said. “We just need to bring more energy and focus to the games this weekend.”
The Elis were trailing 2–0 heading into the bottom of the seventh, but they got on the board after third baseman Mikey Sliepka ’18 walked and first baseman Alec Hoeschel ’17 doubled to the right-center gap to bring the freshman home. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, however, the Bulldogs were only able to push across one run on a walk by Sliepka and could only tie the game.
Yale had another quality opportunity in the ninth to put away Hartford, with a runner on third base with just one out, but strikeouts by center fielder Green Campbell ’15 and infielder Harrison White ’17 ended the inning and sent the game to the 10th.
The Hawks found their bats again in extras, using two doubles and a single to plate three runs that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game.
Even in the loss, there were bright spots for the Bulldogs, as righty Drew Scott ’18 limited the Hawks to just two runs over seven innings in his strongest start of the year. Slenker continued his hot hitting, finishing the night 2–3 to bump his batting average to 0.409 this season.
“I have just been seeing the ball well and not trying to do too much at the plate,” Slenker said. “I’m staying aggressive and swinging at good pitches to hit.”
This weekend, the Elis will look to find the same success they have had all season in the batter’s box, as the team hits 0.271 as a whole with a conference-leading 0.375 on-base percentage.
The offense will need to solve Penn’s pitching staff, which boasts four of the top six pitchers in the conference. Reigning Ivy League pitcher of the week, southpaw Ronnie Glenn, allowed just three runs over 14 innings last week for the Quakers, including a complete game effort against Harvard.
“We’re going to try to put the ball in play hard,” White said. “There isn’t much we can control beyond that. As long as we stay within ourselves and execute when we need to, we should be fine.”
Righty pitcher Chasen Ford ’17 added that the pitchers have confidence knowing that the team has a reliable offense that will fight to put up runs.
Yale, on the other hand, has the worst earned run average, 8.45, as a pitching staff. That does not bode well for its games against Columbia, the top offense in the Ancient Eight.
Columbia currently hits 0.278 as a team with a 0.384 slugging percentage, good for 5.33 runs per game. Two Lions in particular, outfielder Joe Falcone and utility player Jordan Serena, are dangerous at the plate, hitting 0.363 and 0.344, respectively.
Both Penn and Columbia split their doubleheaders against Dartmouth before sweeping Harvard last weekend. The two teams will continue to jostle for the top spot of the Lou Gehrig Division after tying for first at the end of last season, with Columbia winning the playoff before sweeping the championship series.
“We need to play clean and get leadoff hitters out,” Slenker said. “Offensively, we need to just stick to our approach. We want to have tough at bats, hit the ball hard and challenge the defense.”
Ford and White agreed, with the infielder adding that as long as the team focuses and plays “Bulldog baseball,” the Elis will be competitive in all four games this weekend.
The Bulldogs remain in a three-way tie atop the Red Rolfe Division, as both Brown and Dartmouth split their past weekends as well.
The first pitch is scheduled for noon on both Saturday and Sunday.