Following a 23-run slugfest of a loss against Sacred Heart on Wednesday, the Yale baseball team faces Dartmouth in three pivotal games this weekend away in Hanover. The Elis will play a doubleheader on Saturday, followed by a series finale on Sunday.
The Bulldogs (14–22, 8–7 Ivy) need a victory against the Big Green (13–21, 6–9 Ivy) to stave off an early ends to their season. Currently, Yale needs success in this series to break its tie for third with Penn and launch itself into a position to challenge for a spot in the Ivy League Championship Series. Dartmouth sits tied at sixth with Princeton and is unlikely to make a run at a postseason berth after a disappointing 6–9 Ivy campaign.
“We’re looking to take things one step at a time,” infielder and captain Simon Whiteman ’19 said. “With our pitching staff throwing the way they have, we can play with anyone. It’ll be a matter of squaring the ball up consistently and taking care of the ball on defense.”
Last season’s series against the Big Green ended well for the Bulldogs. Game One was the perfect start for the Elis, who demolished Dartmouth 10–3. Right-hander Scott Politz ’19 went eight innings and gave up only three runs. First baseman Griffin Dey ’19 throttled a triple en route to a monster three RBI game. Infielder Dai Dai Otaka ’20 also had a productive day at the plate, as he went three for four and scored Dey late in the game for an RBI.
In Game Two, the Big Green bounced back. Dartmouth’s first baseman Michael Calamari, who was on a roll during that series, belted a double to give the Big Green an early lead. In response, outfielder Teddy Hague ’21 went yard to keep the Elis in the game, but Dartmouth kept the pressure on. Yale struggled to record hits and ended up falling 3–1.
The series finale was a return to form for Yale. Dey stretched an impressive five-game hit streak to six in the contest, as he went three for four to lead the Bulldogs at the plate. Outfielder Harry Hegeman ’21 also had two hits in this game. Dartmouth tried to mount a small comeback in the eighth, scoring two runs, but the Big Green was unable to overtake the Elis. Yale took the game 5–4 and the series 2–1.
“These next six games are obviously very important,” catcher Jake Gehri ’22 said. “Coming off last weekend’s sweep, we have some momentum going into this next series against Dartmouth. We’re doing a lot of things really well right now and need to keep it up.”
Yale’s bats are heating up at the right time to make a real playoff push. Dey is ending his Yale career the only way he knows how — by punishing the ball virtually every time he steps up to the plate. He has 10 homers and an impressive .358 batting average this season. Hague has also had a quietly successful year. The sophomore sports a stellar .371 average, good for the best among active Elis. With seven moonshots of his own, Gehri will be looking to challenge Dey for the title of Yale home run king this season.
The Bulldogs’ hurlers on the mound are also heating up. Southpaw Kumar Nambiar ’19 had a gem of a performance in the finale of last weekend’s three-game series against Penn when he pitched a complete game shutout. Nambiar allowed only three hits and struck out five to claim his second win of the year. Fellow senior Politz also played all nine innings in the opener against the Quakers to grab his fifth victory of the campaign.
“Obviously we know what’s at the end of the stick in that a sweep would get us another step closer to a postseason run,” Otaka said. “However, we’re preparing for Dartmouth like any other weekend, really putting an emphasis on having fun and having each others’ backs. I think if we continue to play loose, anything is possible.”
Dartmouth is currently fifth in the Ancient Eight but is also exhibiting a recent rise in form. The Big Green is 3–3 in its last two conference series against Brown and Harvard, clinching a 15–7 triumph against the Crimson last Sunday. Infielder Steffen Torgensen leads the team offensively, with a batting average of .336 and 42 hits this year. Against Harvard on Sunday, the senior drove in five runs alone. Outfielder Matt Feinstein has also torn it up in recent games with nine RBIs in eight games. The Elis will have to rely on their bullpen to shut down the in-form duo.
Game One against the Big Green starts at 11:30 a.m on Saturday in Hanover.
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