In its penultimate nonconference matchup of the regular season, the Yale baseball team used nine pitchers over nine innings in a nine-run victory over Iona in New Rochelle, as the Bulldogs improved to 9–1 in their last 10 games.
The Elis (15–15, 9–3 Ivy) used a balanced offensive attack to score in five different innings and a potpourri of pitchers to limit the Gaels (8–25, 3–8 MAAC) to just two hits on the afternoon
After the one-game respite from Ivy League competition, the Bulldogs will return to the friendly confines of Yale Field for a three-game home stand this upcoming weekend against Dartmouth (9–17–1, 5–3–1 Ivy). A trio of games against the Big Green — the lone team in the Ancient Eight that has not dropped a series in conference play thus far — awaits the Elis, who will look to increase their one-game separation over second-place Columbia on Saturday and Sunday. This weekend’s series also comes on the heels of a resilient doubleheader sweep against Harvard this past Saturday after the Crimson no-hit the Bulldogs on Friday night.
“Those two wins against [Harvard] were huge for us,” said left-hander Kumar Nambiar ’19. “After Harvard did what they did in Game 1, it was very important for us to turn the page and come back ready to play. And we did, our defense was solid, and we had some very timely hits.”
But on Wednesday afternoon, the Bulldogs would need only a single run to get past the Gaels, a team that entered the midweek matinee having dropped its last eight contests. Yale wasted little time asserting itself against Iona, opening the scoring on an RBI groundout from first baseman Benny Wanger ’19 in the top of the first inning to take a 1–0 lead. Then left-fielder Brian Ronai ’20 started another Eli barrage of runs with a single. After two walks and two hit batters extended Yale’s advantage to three runs, shortstop Simon Whiteman ’19 recorded the first of his three hits in the game — a single to left center that plated another run to put the Gaels in a 4–0 hole. Iona managed just two hits in the game, coming on singles in the second and fourth innings, and failed to put another man on base until a walk in the bottom of the sixth. Yale, meanwhile, continued to keep its foot on the gas as Wanger tallied his second RBI of the game to score Whiteman on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth inning. Ahead 5–0 entering the eighth, the Bulldogs padded their cushion after designated hitter Griffin Dey singled through the left side to score Whiteman and Wanger, who stole a combined three bases in the frame. Dey’s pair of RBIs made it a seven-run game.
Dey then came on to pitch in the bottom of the eighth and maintained the goose egg for Iona in the runs column despite walking one batter. The junior struck out the Gaels’ Sean Scales looking with runners on second and third to get out of the inning. Dey’s versatility was on full display as he singled again in the top of the ninth for a pair of RBIs, before Wanger closed out the game in the final half-inning on the bump with three straight outs to seal the 9–0 victory.
“All our pitchers did a great a job preparing for this game and then executing when they stepped on the mound,” catcher Alex Boos ’18 said. “When they are hanging donuts like that inning after inning, it takes a lot of stress off of the batters, which allows us to relax at the plate and have some fun. The team really likes having fun, and it’s easy to do that when you’re winning ballgames for the boys.”
This weekend, Yale’s league-leading pitching staff will be put to the test against Dartmouth’s power at the plate. The two teams’ respective outings on the mound so far have been near opposites; while the Elis have been dominant and stand atop the conference with a 4.47 ERA, the Big Green has struggled and is dead last, with a 6.71 ERA. Right-hander Cole O’Connor, however, has been a bright spot for Dartmouth and is one of four pitchers in the conference with a league-best four wins on the hill this season.
But what Dartmouth lacks in pitching execution, it makes up with batting efficiency. The Big Green has been swinging well all season and leads the conference with a .267 batting average. Among those who has been putting up stellar numbers for Dartmouth in the batting lineup is infielder Sean Sullivan, who paces the team with a .400 batting average and is second with a .482 on base percentage. The junior’s batting mark leads the conference and ranks an impressive 17th in the nation.
The Bulldogs will call upon their starters, who have been reliable on the mound all season long, to counter the batting prowess of Dartmouth with strong pitching performances. Along with Nambiar and the Big Green’s O’Connor, right-hander Eric Brodkowitz ’18 has also compiled four wins during the season.
Brodkowitz has established himself with his consistency and ranks first in the league with a 2.77 ERA. Against the Crimson this past weekend, he pitched a gem, earning a victory by giving up just one run and four hits in a complete nine innings of work. Right-hander Scott Politz ’19 has also given significant contributions in the lineup as the Bulldogs’ ace with three victories. Given the consistency of the Elis’ probable starting pitchers, it may ultimately be up to Yale’s batting to put the team ahead on the scoreboard this weekend.
“Our starting pitching has been one of our biggest strengths all year,” Wanger said. “Scott, Kumar and Eric have done a great job keeping us in every game. Our offense produces best when we are relaxed, so having three starters that consistently give us quality starts is huge.”
The first pitch versus the Big Green will be thrown at Yale Field on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
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