Playing a regular season series in its own ballpark for the first time since April of last year, the Yale baseball team gave the Bulldog faithful a reason to celebrate with a three-game sweep over Brown on Friday and Saturday.
After a lackluster start to the season, the Elis strung together multiple wins for the first time in 2018 as Yale’s weekend rotation of pitchers Scott Politz ’19, Kumar Nambiar ’19 and Eric Brodkowitz ’18 limited the Bears to a combined seven runs in 27 innings of work.
With the trio of victories, Yale (7–14, 4–2 Ivy) moved atop the Red Rolfe Division and extended its win streak against Brown (6–13, 2–4) to six consecutive games. The combination of 11 strikeouts from Politz and three RBIs from first baseman Benny Wanger ’19, including a home run, fueled the Bulldogs to a 7–1 victory in Game One. The Elis capped off the weekend with a doubleheader sweep on Saturday behind 6–4 and 5–2 victories which included a one-run, eight-inning effort from Brodkowitz in the latter half of the twinbill.
“We had three bulletproof pitching performances from our starters,” shortstop Simon Whiteman ’19 said. “Followed by solid relief pitching, and supported by a great effort at the plate that focused on punishing Brown’s mistakes and constantly putting pressure on their defense.”
After the Bears seized an early 1–0 lead in the top half of the first inning of Friday’s matinee, Wanger answered with a homer to right field in the opening frame to pull ahead 2–1. Politz’s pitching prowess preserved that narrow advantage, as the right-hander held the Bears scoreless over the next seven innings to send Yale into the bottom of the eighth nursing its one-run lead. But in the penultimate inning, the Bulldogs finally saw an uptick in offense after center fielder Tim DeGraw ’19 led off with an infield single before Whiteman executed a bunt single shortly thereafter.
With two runners on base, Wanger delivered again with a double down the left field line to score DeGraw and extend Yale’s lead to 3–1. Whiteman and Wanger also reached home courtesy of an RBI single from third baseman Griffen Dey ’19. A three-run homer to left center from second baseman Alex Stiegler ’20 extended the Elis’ advantage to six runs in the eighth inning. With a comfortable 7–1 cushion, Politz promptly retired the next three batters in the ninth to clinch the complete-game victory.
“I was really glad to [be] back [at Yale Field]. It helps to be a pitcher because [the ballpark is] so big, probably bigger than any other field we’re going to play on this year,” Politz said. “I was glad I was able to close it down and keep one of our bullpen guys from having to throw. Overall, it was a good team win and we finally came through with the bats at the end.”
In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, a wild pitch from Brown pitcher Will Tomlinson with the bases loaded plated a run for Yale. Afterwards, a sacrifice fly from Stiegler gifted the Bulldogs a 2–0 lead in the first inning. Yale extended its lead the home half of the fourth, as catcher Cal Christofori ’21 singled to left center to tack on another two runs following an RBI ground out from designated hitter Cole Shelton ’21.
Meanwhile on the bump, Nambiar limited the Bears to zero runs for the first five innings but exited in the sixth after a three-run outburst from the Brown bats trimmed Yale’s lead to 5–3. However, the Elis’ bullpen allowed just one run in relief for Nambiar, utilizing pitchers Bobby Cecere ’20, Tyler Sapsford ’20 and Wanger. Another RBI in the eighth inning from pinch hitter Brian Ronai ’20 punctuated the 6–4 victory for the Bulldogs.
In the final game of the series, Brodkowitz went the distance for Yale and kept the Bears’ offense at bay, allowing just one run in eight innings in addition to five strikeouts. Brodkowitz, who leads the team with a 2.68 ERA in six appearances, notched his second victory of the season. Whiteman helped his teammate’s pitching effort with a two-run double in the sixth that gave Yale a 3–1 lead. Yale did not relinquish the lead en route to a 5–2 victory over Brown that sealed the weekend sweep.
“[The series victory] was big for us to get some confidence as we move forward in our conference season,” Wanger said.
Next up for the Elis is a Wednesday matinee at home against Fairfield at 3:30 p.m. before the squad travels to Ithaca for a pair of games against Cornell next weekend.
Joey Kamm | firstname.lastname@example.org