In a game scheduled to commemorate the sesquicentennials of both programs, the Yale baseball team defeated Division III Wesleyan 7–3 thanks to a first inning that saw five runners cross the plate.
The two schools first met on Sept. 30, 1865 in each program’s inaugural game, when the Bulldogs notched their first victory against the Cardinals 39–13. Though the teams have played 81 times since then, this was the first matchup between the Connecticut schools since 1992.
“I highlighted this game before the season because of the historical significance of the game, and playing it meant a lot,” captain and right fielder David Toups ’15 said. “It was a fun game to play, and we wanted to come away with the win just like Yale did 150 years ago.”
In the 2015 iteration, the Elis (13–21, 4–12 Ivy) triumphed over Wesleyan (18–6, 6–0 New England Small College Athletic) largely because of an abnormally quick start.
For a Yale offense that has struggled throughout the season, hitting just 0.249 during conference play, the first inning served as an antidote to the Bulldogs’ ills, as the first seven batters reached base.
Following four straight singles by the top of the order, designated hitter Robert Baldwin ’15 reached base on an error by Wesleyan second baseman Andrew Yin that also gave Yale two runs. Toups then doubled to bring first baseman Eric Hsieh ’15 home, and following a walk and a pop out to shortstop, the Cardinal pitcher balked to send Baldwin home.
“It was definitely nice to start out the way we started today,” left fielder Harrison White ’17 said. “It always is. The fact that our offense had been sputtering lately just made today’s start that much more satisfying. It helps us get comfortable as a team knowing that we have a cushion to work with.”
The Bulldogs also added two runs in the fifth inning, using a single and back-to-back doubles to extend the lead to 7–1. The seven runs scored mark the most that Yale has put on the board in nine games. The Elis tallied 10 against Dartmouth on April 11.
The lineup notched 11 hits during the afternoon. Second baseman Nate Adams ’16, Hsieh, White and Toups all had multiple hits. Additionally, Hsieh had two steals, but his 3–4 was the most notable part of his day. It constituted his first performance with at least two hits since April 11, and it raised his batting average to an Ivy-best 0.371.
“It definitely felt good to get back in a groove and see the ball a little better than I have in the last week or so,” Hsieh said. “And it’s nice when everyone contributes because it shows what we are capable of doing.”
The freshman pitching tandem of righties Drew Scott ’18 and Mason Kukowski ’18 held the lead. Scott held a strong Cardinals lineup, hitting 0.297 on the season, to just three runs on five hits over seven innings.
He picked up his first win of the season in the process, throwing 65 of his 99 pitches for strikes against 28 batters.
“Drew Scott did a great job of getting ahead of hitters, being aggressive on the mound and keeping that cushion for us,” White said. “It makes everyone’s job a little easier when we’re playing with a lead as opposed to a deficit.”
The Henrico, Virginia native then turned the ball over to Kukowski, who finished the game without allowing another hit. The dominant reliever shut down Wesleyan, facing the minimum six batters over two innings, to lower his team-leading earned run average to 4.01.
The victory boosted Yale’s winning streak to three games, tied for the longest of the year, and also bumped the Elis’ advantage in the historical series against the Cardinals to 62–18–2.
Yale begins a four-game series against Brown to conclude Ivy play on Friday afternoon, including the final games at Yale Field for the seniors.