Just two weekends and eight games remain in the Ivy League regular season, and the Yale baseball team finds itself tied atop a congested Red Rolfe Division with Dartmouth, a program that has captured eight consecutive divisional titles and won 15 of its past 17 contests against the Bulldogs.
With a pair of doubleheaders between the two first-place schools on tap for this weekend in New Hampshire, the Elis (13–22–1, 7–5 Ivy) have a golden opportunity to separate themselves from the field en route to possibly dethroning the Big Green (13–20, 7–5) in pursuit of their first Red Rolfe title since 1995.
“This season has definitely had its ups and downs, but it’s exciting to have the opportunity to play meaningful games late in the season,” shortstop Tom O’Neill ’16 said. “We can’t wait to get out there and continue competing.”
O’Neill racked up four RBI in Wednesday’s 15–2 victory over Wesleyan as part of an offensive firestorm for the Bulldogs.
Against Wesleyan, center fielder Tim DeGraw ’19 also had himself a day, going 3–4 with two walks. DeGraw will be aiming to maintain his hot bat versus the Big Green, as the freshman is hitting 0.385 in conference play with eight RBI. He ranks sixth in the Ivy League overall with 21 RBI.
Joining DeGraw in the outfield is the senior duo of Brent Lawson ’16 and Nate Adams ’16, who have both been major contributors to the Yale offense. Lawson, who is batting 0.289, is eighth in the conference with a 0.482 slugging percentage, while Adams leads the Bulldogs with a 0.325 batting average.
And at the heart of the Bulldog order is third baseman Richard Slenker ’17, who is hitting at a 0.310 clip with 13 doubles, 17 RBI and seven stolen bases.
As a whole, Yale’s offense ranks third during Ivy play in runs per game despite ranking sixth in the Ancient Eight in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
The Elis’ triumph over Wesleyan served as a bounce-back performance after dropping three of four games against Harvard last weekend.
“Our division is going to be a dogfight — it always is,” captain Chris Moates ’16 said after the weekend series versus the Crimson. “It’s going to be about which team can stay consistent, stick to the process and stay numb to the results. I’m confident that we can do this, and that it will pay off.”
While the Elis lost ground in the divisional standings last weekend, the Big Green split their four games against Brown and then swept a pair of contests from Cornell on Wednesday to pull even with Yale.
Not far behind the Bulldogs and Big Green are Brown and Harvard, as both schools sit just two games out of first place.
Heading into the pivotal series, Dartmouth and its middling offense will be led by a trio of infielders. Shortstop Thomas Roulis is batting 0.302 with 13 RBI, while second baseman Dustin Shirley has five triples, 11 RBI and a 0.414 slugging percentage. Meanwhile, the Big Green’s pop is most often provided by clean-up hitter and first baseman Michael Ketchmark.
Ketchmark has smacked four home runs — the rest of the Dartmouth has a combined five homers — while also compiling 22 RBI and a 0.435 slugging percentage.
At the top of the Bulldog rotation, right-handed pitchers Scott Politz ’19 and Chasen Ford ’17 will attempt to neutralize Ketchmark and company, and continue their impressive Ivy League campaigns.
On the season as a whole, Politz has a 3.44 ERA and a 4–3 record over 49.2 innings of work. He has tossed four consecutive complete games, including each of his three Ivy League starts. In 20 conference innings, Politz has limited opposing batters to just 11 hits.
Ford won each of his first two Ivy starts before receiving a no-decision in a 6–3 loss to Harvard last Saturday despite exiting the game with the lead. After registering a 5.09 ERA in nonconference play, the Lake Forest, California, native has stepped up against Ivy competition and posted a 3.47 ERA in 23.1 innings, during which he has only walked three batters.
“We have our minds set for what we are playing for, but you can’t really think that macro when you are playing these individuals games,” Adams said. “We just have to keep doing what we have been taught and preaching all year long … We will let the chips fall where they may at the end of the season, and hopefully we are on top.”
On both Saturday and Sunday, the first games of the doubleheader will begin at noon.