Heartbreak awaited the Yale baseball team in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Elis fell 10–9 against Fairfield in a one-off clash. The Bulldogs gave up the winning run off their sole error in the game.
The Elis (10–14, 4–2 Ivy) made the 30-minute drive with high hopes after claiming two of their three games against Cornell over the weekend. A shaky opening two innings tarnished an offensive show against Fairfield (13–13, 4–2 MAAC). The Bulldogs had 15 hits during the midweek game, but it all counted for nothing when a Stag stole third and then scored off unfortunate fielding.
“We just lost focus at time and made some minor mistakes that proved to be costly,” pitcher Quinn Cleary ’22 said.
The Bulldogs quickly squandered any momentum gained from the weekend with a terrible start to Wednesday’s game. Starting pitcher Thomas Espig ’20 was pulled from the matchup after 0.1 innings after giving up three earned runs. The southpaw faced seven hitters and was fighting a losing battle from the get-go, giving up a two-run homer to Justin Guerrera. Reliever Ben Gibbs looked to have staunched the bleeding by getting the team out of the inning, only to give up another two runs in the second to leave the Elis with a 5–0 deficit to start the third.
Yale roared back into life in the fourth, bringing the score from 7–2 to 7–6. The bottom of the batting order did the little things right, focusing on singles and advancing the runner around the horn. Outfielder Tim DeGraw ’19 ripped a single up the middle to bring catcher Jake Gehri ’22 home. DeGraw later concluded the scoring by crossing home plate in the Blue and White’s half of the inning to make it 7–6, while catcher Tom Fuller ’19 doubled along the infield line.
Fuller had a spectacular day at the plate with four hits at five at-bats. The senior also drove in five runs, more than half of the team’s output.
As the offense came back strong, pitching remained a problem. The bullpen’s early call into action meant that hurlers had long shifts on the mound. Fairfield saw its lead grow once again, as it scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to make it a three-run game.
Nevertheless, infielder Brian Ronai ’20 and Fuller continued to keep the Elis in contention for the W. Ronai first hit a piledriver past left field for a homer in the top of the sixth, and Fuller followed by precisely guiding the ball for a single into left field for his fifth and final RBI of the day. Infielder Mason LaPlante ’22 did what seemed impossible a mere two hours earlier when he tied things up at 9–9 in the seventh off a wild pitch.
Fuller, who carried the team offensively for so much of the game, ended the day on an unfortunate note. He could do nothing when Fairfield runner Mike Caruso stole third and then got the walk-off run.
“Every guy out here is working their tail off to take care of their 1/29th,” Fuller said. “We go out there relaxed and having as much fun as possible getting to play baseball every day.”
The Bulldogs now turn their attention to red-hot Harvard for another three-game Ivy series this weekend.
Bill Gallagher | firstname.lastname@example.org