A pair of snow delays in upstate New York failed to slow down the Yale baseball team, which remained red-hot with two victories over Cornell on Saturday and Sunday. The Elis are now atop the Ivy League with four regular season series remaining.
The Bulldogs (10–14, 6–2 Ivy) visited the Big Red (5–13, 1–4) this weekend for a three-game series featuring the Ivy League’s best and worst teams. As expected, the Elis won the first game, an affair highlighted by a dominant third inning from the Bulldog offense. The following afternoon, the Bulldogs pushed their winning streak to six games in Sunday’s bout at Hoy Field after left fielder Harry Hegeman ’21 scored on an errant throw to the plate. The third game of the series was postponed to Monday afternoon after a pair of snow delays on Sunday and the extra inning.
“A key strength for the winning streak has been consistently having a long line up day in and day out,” outfielder Tim DeGraw ’19 said. “Our pitching has been there all year but now we are finding our way a bit more at the plate. Opposing pitchers and defenses aren’t given any breaks when we grind out at bats the way we have been recently, and that strains opposing teams not only in single games but series as a whole.”
On Saturday, the Elis opened with a 7–4 victory against Cornell and extended their winning streak to a season-high five games. Right-hander Scott Politz ’19 earned his second straight win in seven innings of solid work on the mound. Politz allowed just one run on five hits and tacked on seven strikeouts while walking three.
The Bulldogs wasted no time getting their scoring on track as DeGraw led off the contest with a single to right field. The junior then stole second base before a bunt single by infielder Simon Whiteman ’19 advanced DeGraw to third. On the next at bat, first baseman Benny Wanger ’19 smacked a ball to left field for a sac fly, sending DeGraw home for the first score of the game. Cornell would even the game in the second inning via a single to the right side, but the Bulldogs’ third inning would be their best of the afternoon and put the game seemingly out of reach.
With one out in the inning, DeGraw smashed a ball down the third base line for a double before Whiteman also doubled to left field for a second consecutive hit. DeGraw scored his second run of the game, giving Yale a lead that it would hold onto for good.
The next batter, Wanger, walked and sprinted to third after first baseman Griffin Dey ’19 followed up with a single up the middle. Right-hander Alex Stiegler ’20 then hit another sacrifice fly for the Bulldogs, and Wanger scored the last of the Elis’ trio of runs in a productive third inning. Politz did not surrender a single run after the second inning and exited after the seventh, allowing right-handers Bobby Cecere ’20 and Tyler Sapsford ’20 to take the mound in the final two innings to close the game.
“I think as a team we are getting closer to our full potential with each game,” infielder Dai Dai Otaka ’20 said. “I think as the season progresses, the one thing we need to work on is to capitalize on the opponent’s mistakes more often.”
Left-hander Kumar Nambiar ’19 got the start for the Bulldogs in Sunday’s matchup, retiring six of the first seven batters he faced to send the Elis into the third inning locked in a scoreless draw.
After a Cornell fielding error and bunt single from Whiteman loaded the bases for the Bulldogs with zero outs in the top of the third, Wanger doubled to left center to score three Bulldogs. Despite the 3–0 deficit, the Big Red quickly answered with a three-run double of its own from Dale Wickham in the bottom of the frame to tie it before the home squad tacked on another two runs shortly thereafter to take a 5–3 lead.
Following a brief weather delay, Nambiar’s day was done as right-hander Mikey Sliepka ’18 came on to pitch in the fourth inning and promptly mowed down the first three batters he faced. Yale then evened up the affair in the fifth after Hegeman singled down the left-field line with the bases loaded to score two runs and make it a 5–5 ball game. However, Cornell edged ahead yet again after Wickham homered to right field off of Sliepka in the bottom of the fifth to give his team a one-run lead.
In the seventh, Whiteman led off and advanced to first after being a hit by pitch. Wanger, who batted three-for-four on Sunday, tallied his fourth RBI of the game on a double before a Hegeman single with two outs scored Wanger and gave Yale a 7–6 advantage.
But as it had done in the third and fifth innings, Cornell answered again in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI single from Ellis Bitar to even the game at seven runs apiece. After Wanger struck out Wickham with runners on second and third base, and two outs in the eighth to keep the game tied, neither team was able to produce the decisive run in the final frame as the Bulldogs and the Big Red headed into the tenth inning.
A cavalcade of errors by the Cornell defense set the table for Yale in the tenth. The Big Red allowed Hegeman to reach first on a passed ball after a strikeout. Next, right fielder Teddy Hague ’21 reached by a throwing error on a sacrifice bunt, which also allowed Hegeman to take third base. With zero outs and the go-ahead run 90 feet from home, the Big Red induced a ground-out before striking out catcher Cal Christofori ’21.
However, the third strike was dropped forcing Cornell to throw to first to record the second out. Despite getting the putout at first base, Hegeman opted to break for home and scored after the throw to the plate evaded Cornell catcher Will Simoneit. With an 8–7 lead in the bottom of tenth, Sapsford closed the game with three straight outs to give the Elis the one-run victory.
“[Sunday’s game] was a really sloppy game and pretty mentally exhausting because of the brutal weather and snow delays,” right-hander Eric Brodkowitz ’18 said. “But we stayed up the whole time and took advantage of some mistakes they made. Benny had a great game at the plate and pitching, and Simon really swung it, but in the end we made fewer mistakes than they did and thankfully came out on the right side of it.”
The Bulldogs and Big Red will resume play in the series’ third and final game on Monday at 1 p.m. in Ithaca.
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