The Dartmouth baseball team has represented the Red Rolfe Division in the Ivy League championship series in eight of the past nine seasons. But with 29 hits across two games, the Yale baseball team blasted the Big Green to set up a passing of the torch between the division powerhouses.
The Eli (22–14, 12–2 Ivy) offense posted eight runs on the board in the opener while ace Scott Politz ’19 blanked the Big Green (19–14, 8–6) in a five-hit shutout. Six early runs put Yale in the driver’s seat in the second game, and the unrelenting offense pummeled the visiting pitching staff for 17 hits and 11 runs in an 11–3 victory that all but sealed up a second straight division title for Yale.
“Our offense has really been clicking lately,” fielder Harrison White ’17 said. “When one guy struggles, another gets hot. Top to bottom, we have a lineup that can really hit the ball and hit it with authority. We never got down on ourselves because we knew their pitching would be strong. We just kept a positive and aggressive mindset and it paid off.”
Yale entered the day two games ahead of Dartmouth for first place in the Red Rolfe Division, just as the team did a year ago. Hoping to avoid a similar outcome to the 2015–16 season — in which they let a two-game lead slip away and were forced into a playoff with the Big Green — the Bulldogs decisively took matters into their own hands on their home field.
Politz and Dartmouth starter Michael Danielak entered the matchup as two of the top starters in the Ivy League, posting the highest win totals in the Ancient Eight combined with superb peripherals. For the first three innings, the game lived up to its billing as a pitchers’ duel with the aces trading zeroes, but the Bulldogs broke the game open in the bottom half of the fourth, assisted by a trio of Dartmouth errors.
With two men down in the inning, first baseman Griffin Dey ’19 blasted a solo shot to left-center field for his league-leading ninth home run of the year. Two singles, a walk and three Dartmouth miscues later — the last of which was a throwing error by Danilek on a comebacker — four more Elis trotted across the plate.
Yale extended the lead in the fifth as Dey ripped an RBI double to center and center fielder Tim DeGraw ’19 chased Danielak with a RBI single. Second baseman Simon Whiteman ’19 piled on with another run-scoring hit to make the score 8–0 after five innings.
Politz, who has not lost a game in the Ivy League this season, went the distance for his sixth complete game of the season. The hander scattered five hits across his seven innings, and despite striking out just one hitter, let just one Big Green runner reach third base in a frustrating afternoon for one of the conference’s most anemic offenses.
“Pitching the first game of the weekend is great because our team is rested and ready to steamroll our opponent,” Politz said. “We have an explosive lineup top to bottom that gives our pitchers the ability to just throw strikes knowing they can’t outhit us. We dominated Dartmouth in every aspect of the game.”
In the second act, the Bulldogs matched their earlier offensive success, dismantling the Dartmouth pitching staff to the tune of 11 runs. The Elis jumped on starter Cole O’Connor early, with DeGraw and Whiteman reaching to open the game before captain and third baseman Richard Slenker ’17 ripped a liner just inside the chalk down the field line to bring home DeGraw. Designated hitter Benny Wanger ’19 plated Slenker and Whiteman to give Yale a 3–0 lead before the Big Green had even recorded an out.
Yale extended its lead in the bottom of the second; Wanger again struck the big blow, ripping a second two-run double off former high school rival O’Cole. Left fielder Alex Stiegler ’20 singled home Wanger to put up a sixth run on the scoreboard, and the freshman added an RBI double in the fourth to extend the lead to 7–0.
Dartmouth touched starter Eric Brodkowitz ’18 for three runs in the top of the fifth inning to diminish the deficit, but the hander bore down with runners at the corners to escape the jam with a four-run lead.
Following Brodkowitz’s five-inning start, Mason Kukowski ’18 entered from the bullpen to start the sixth. The hander worked four sterling innings, building off his winning performance against Iona during the week by allowing one hit in his second save of the season. Kukowski’s airtight relief stint preserved the remainder of the Yale bullpen for Monday’s matchup, a welcome sight for Yale’s probable starters, who have been inconsistent at pitching deep into games.
White tripled home two more runs in the seventh as the Elis extended the lead to 11–3. Overall, Yale hit safely 17 times in the game — seven of those hits falling for extra bases — while maintaining their superb offensive output from the three-win series against Harvard the previous weekend.
“Our team did a great job of battling with two strikes and hitting mistakes,” catcher Andrew Herrera ’17 said. “Guys were fighting up there fouling off pitches until they got something they could handle and made sure to capitalize on it. When things are clicking for everyone we can really become a dangerous lineup.”
The Elis return to Yale Field on Monday at noon to play another doubleheader against the Big Green in the makeup of Saturday’s washout. A sweep would secure the Ivy League crown for Yale, while a split would clinch a spot in a potential playoff.