Over spring break, the Yale baseball team played in three different states, against five different opponents and in 14 different games. It took the Bulldogs just about all that experience to warm up fully for the 2016 season.
Yale (4–13–1, 0–0 Ivy) was winless this spring until March 19, when the team defeated Holy Cross at home in its 11th game of the year. Following that homestand, the Bulldogs proceeded to finish the break with three wins in their last five games, setting a positive tone before Ivy League play begins on Saturday.
“Our goal for the road trip is to get ready for Ivy League play,” third baseman Richard Slenker ’17 said. “It is our chance to figure out what works and get ourselves ready to win conference games.”
The Elis began the road trip with three losses to Navy in which they were outscored 22–8. In the final game of the four-game series with the Midshipmen, however, the Bulldogs scored one run in the top of the seventh inning to finish the game in a 2–2 tie.
Yale then headed to Washington D.C. to face Georgetown and George Washington. The Bulldogs held a 4–2 advantage in their game against Georgetown entering the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Hoyas scored one run in each of the final three frames to capture the 5–4 win. Left fielder Harrison White ’17 and designated hitter Griffin Dey ’19 both homered in the loss, and Dey finished 2–4 with one RBI at the plate.
The next day, Yale fell 6–1 to George Washington, with the Colonials taking a 3–0 lead in the first inning and never looking back. Following the two losses, the Bulldogs were 0–9–1 to begin the season.
The Bulldogs headed back to New Haven on March 19 for its first home contests of the season, and the familiarity of Yale Field proved to make all the difference.
In the first of a three-game series against Holy Cross, right-handed pitcher Scott Politz ’19 tossed a gem, and the team collected 11 hits en route to the 10–5 win. Over eight innings, Politz struck out six batters and surrendered just one earned run on seven hits.
Slenker cranked two doubles and finished 2–4 with three runs in the victory, while Dey went 2–3 with two runs and three RBI.
“I was just seeing the ball well and finally got my timing down against Holy Cross,” Slenker said. “I thought we played really well as a team in that win.”
Despite the dominant victory on that Saturday afternoon, the Bulldogs later dropped the final two games of the series by scores of 8–1 and 4–2.
In the final five games of the break, the Elis picked up momentum with a victory over in-state rival Quinnipiac and a 2–2 record against Bucknell in a four-game series.
In the 8–6 triumph over Quinnipiac, White went 5–5 with a double in the leadoff spot, while second baseman Simon Whiteman ’19 drove in three runs and scored one himself. Whiteman, who leads the team with 10 stolen bases this spring, had two against the Bobcats, including one in the top of the fourth that led to his scored run.
Seven Elis pitched against the Bobcats, and Dey ultimately picked up the win.
The Bulldogs secured their third win of the season in the following game against Bucknell. White continued his hot hitting with a 2–4 performance from the plate that included a double and two runs scored in the 5–4 defeat of the Bison.
Right-handed pitcher Chasen Ford ’17 moved to 1–3 on the season with the victory on the mound. He gave up seven hits and three earned runs over 6.2 innings while also striking out five batters, and lefty Kumar Nambiar ’19 came in to get the save for the Bulldogs.
Though Yale dropped the next decision against Bucknell 13–9, the Elis trounced the Bison 10–0 in the first contest on Sunday.
Politz turn in another strong pitching performance and moved to 2–2 on the year with the win. He pitched seven innings, notched seven strikeouts and gave up no runs. Slenker paced the Bulldogs at the plate, finishing 2–3 with two runs scored and one RBI. Designated hitter Benny Wagner ’19 was 3–3 with a walk, and first baseman Alec Hoeschel ’17 registered two RBI.
The final game of the four-game series resulted in a decisive 5–0 Bucknell win.
The Elis will next take the field in a single game at Sacred Heart on Tuesday. The first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.