Sam Rubin

Over the weekend, the Yale baseball team journeyed to Philadelphia to take on high-flying Penn and came out with a spectacular three-game series sweep -— its first in Ivy play. The Bulldogs now trail second-place Harvard by 2 1/2 games and could be primed for a late-season rally with six conference games still remaining.

Yale (14–12, 8–7 Ivy) came alive on offense with 23 total runs against a Quaker (19–14, 8–7) side more accustomed to putting up scores than giving them up. On Saturday, the Elis snatched a 6–5 win before securing a tight win 9–7 in Game Two on Sunday. Yale then closed out the Quakers with an 8–0 demolition in the series finale at Meiklejohn Stadium.

“This was a pretty gritty series from top to bottom,” infielder and captain Simon Whiteman ’19 said. “We took punches some innings but did a phenomenal job dealing them back with timely hitting and constant pressure. Hats off to our pitching staff — an all-around incredible performance showcased by a three-hit complete game performance out of Kumar [Nambiar ’19]. You can’t ask for a better [series] than what we got this weekend.”

The series opener was one to remember for the senior members of the Bulldogs. Starting pitcher Scott Politz ’19 pitched a complete game, coming back strong from a tough first inning, when he gave up three runs. The 2017 Ivy League Pitcher of the Year used his close game know-how to induce a 1–2–3 double play to get out of the fifth inning with the bases loaded and no outs.

In a game of tight margins, the Yale offense also came out swinging. Infielder Griffin Dey ’19 homered in the eighth to give the Bulldogs a short-lived 4–3 lead before Penn rallied for two runs in the home half of the eighth. Incredibly, Dey’s blast was his fifth homer in seven games. Whiteman’s single down the left side in the top of the ninth knocked two more on the scoreboard for the Bulldogs, as they held on for the win.

“I was happy to keep us in the ballgame despite a rough first inning and am proud of our guys for their clutch hitting and resilience throughout the weekend,” Politz said. “I’m very proud of our guys for coming back after a tough weekend and getting ourselves back into the race for the championship.”

Game Two proved to be a battle to the end. Catcher Jake Gehri ’22 continued his hot-hitting start by slapping a single to score two runs in the first. But, the Quakers came firing back. Josh Hood rocketed a double down the infield line, scoring a run and halving the deficit for Penn.

Baserunning was what made the real difference in this contest, as the Elis stole seven total bases. A highlight came in the third when outfielder Tim DeGraw ’19 scampered home successfully after a errant pitch to make it 4–1 Yale. The senior also came through in the clutch when he scored Whiteman in the eighth to put the game out of reach. Yale walked away with the 9–7 win despite four runs in the final three innings from the Quakers.

Sunday’s series finale featured utter Eli domination. Left-handed Kumar Nambiar ’19 was in the zone throughout the nine innings, leaving the Quaker batters completely baffled. He struck out five and went the whole nine innings, earning the well-deserved shutout win.

At the plate, infielder Mason LaPlante ’22 swung the bat with sweet success, going four for five on the game. Meanwhile, Gehri went yard in the ninth, the game’s only long ball to give the Bulldogs a 5–0 advantage. And outfielder Pierce Blohowiak ’22 has been on an offensive tear as of late, he continued to be effective in this game by contributing two RBIs.

Penn’s offense struggled mightily, only managing a meager three hits in Game Three. Yale, on the other hand, was batting balls left and right, finishing with 13 total hits in the eight-run victory. The Bulldogs piled on the punishment in the ninth as they scored four of their eight runs in the inning to wrap up the series sweep with an 8–0 win. This series, the exact result that Yale was hoping for, could give the Elis the extra motivation they need to make a late run in hopes of securing a spot in the 2019 Ivy League Championship Series.

“It felt good to get back on the right side of the win column,” catcher Cal Christofori ’21 said. “We played well, not perfect, but really well, and showed what we’re capable of. We are going to battle to the end and stay focused on ourselves.”

Yale will take on Sacred Heart at Campus Field in Fairfield on Wednesday in the Elis’ final respite from Ivy League play.

Bill Gallagher | william.gallagher@yale.edu

Eamonn Smith | eamonn.smith@yale.edu