BASEBALL: Bulldogs drop series against Cornell
Despite a strong offensive performance on Sunday that allowed them to win 18–5, the Bulldogs lost their three-game away series against Cornell after dropping both games of their Saturday doubleheader.
Courtesy of Sam Rubin '95/Yale Athletics
The offensive ability of the Yale baseball team (13–8, 4–2 Ivy) fluctuated last weekend as the squad traveled to New York to face off against Cornell (5–12, 2–4 Ivy). The Bulldogs lost the first two games of their three-game match-up against the Big Red, but avoided the series sweep by winning the final game in dominant fashion.
Previously at the top of the Ivy League standings, the Bulldogs are now tied second with Penn (16–8, 4–2 Ivy) and sit just behind Harvard (13–9, 5–1 Ivy). Yale dropped both of Saturday’s doubleheader games, 1–2 and 9–12, respectively, but won its last game, 18–5. The Blue and White’s losses ended a five-game winning streak that had been fueled by a successful spring break stretch and a midweek victory against Sacred Heart.
“Obviously, it’s unfortunate that we lost the first two games of the series,” middle infielder Alec Atkinson ’24 said. “[That] always happens in baseball — some teams aren’t going to come out with their best stuff every day … But it was really nice to come out for game three and play the type of baseball that we’re accustomed to playing against a good Cornell team.”
The Bulldogs had a promising start to the first game against the Big Red, drawing first blood with an RBI single from clean-up hitter Jimmy Chatfield ’24. However, Yale struggled against the opposing pitching staff after the first inning and were shutout for the rest of the game. Cornell’s offense was strong, scoring a run and gaining the upper hand in the third before later clinching the go-ahead run on a walk-off sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Stellar performances on the mound were the highlights of the first match of the doubleheader, as both starters engaged in a pitchers’ duel through seven innings and each struck out seven batters. Yale’s arm, right hander Michael Walsh ’23, looked sharp as he threw 107 pitches and allowed only three hits.
Less than an hour later, the Bulldogs regained some of their firepower. In the second game of the day, the Blue and White once again took the early initiative on the attack. First baseman Colton Shaw ’25 put Yale on the board in the third inning with a solo blast to left field, his second home run of the season. Though Cornell countered with a homer of their own in the fourth, Yale would score two runs in the fifth and sixth innings to take a 3–2 lead.
Yale proceeded to have a monstrous six-run seventh that began with another RBI single from Chatfield. After another run later that inning, third baseman Carson Swank ’23 stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. As the ball sailed over left field, his grand slam propelled the Bulldogs forward to a 9–2 lead. Despite this strong performance, the Big Red countered with their own offensive success in the same inning, scoring eight runs as a result of four walks, a single, two doubles and a home run.
“We were just pressing too much,” Atkinson said about the Bulldogs’ losses. “We were too caught up, trying to do too much and just not being in the moment. We were getting caught up in the pressure of the considerations of each game, and not just focusing on the task at hand, which is for each of us to do our individual jobs.”
Cornell wrapped up the game with a two-RBI single in the eighth inning. Despite having the bases loaded in the top of the eighth and another opportunity to score in the ninth, the Bulldogs came up short in their quest for a comeback. They lost 9–12.
However, the Elis were able to close the weekend with a comfortable 18–5 win on Sunday that came as a result of efficient offensive performances. While the Blue and White yielded a few runs to Cornell in late innings, the Bulldogs dominated throughout the game both at the plate and on the mound. At one point during the sixth inning, the Eli’s led 17–0.
Following the weekend’s pattern, Yale struck first. The Bulldogs scored their first run in thrilling fashion with a double steal that involved captain Mason LaPlante ’22 and two-way player Shaw, who was both the game’s starting pitcher and designated hitter. After scoring, Shaw pitched a clean 1–2–3 bottom of the first inning. The first-year from Richardson, Texas was outstanding throughout the game, allowing only two runs through six innings while also contributing four runs as a hitter.
“This year has definitely been the most locked in I’ve been on both sides of the ball,” Shaw said. “I usually don’t hit and pitch in the same game, so to be able to do that on Sunday was definitely a test to see if I could really balance [them] the way I think I can. The toughest part was making sure that I separated the two, and didn’t let the results of one pour into the process of the other. I thought that I did a pretty good job of separating, and I think that is what’s going to help me for the rest of the year.”
Other players had strong performances at the plate on Sunday. Catcher Jake Gehri ’22 showed spectators that he had fully shaken off his early season rust with a strong six-RBI performance, which included a solo homerun and two singles. Chatfield also demonstrated his ability with a two-RBI homerun in the second inning. Atkinson went 2–3, Swank went 3–6 and middle infielder Jeff Pierantoni ’24 went 2–4.
Despite the series loss against Cornell, the Bulldogs remained sharp both defensively and on the basepaths. Yale stole 11 total bases in the three games against the Big Red, further solidifying its position as the league’s leader in stolen bases with 43. The Bulldogs are also ranked first in the conference in fielding percentage, properly handling batted or thrown balls 97.3 percent of the time.
“With base running, it’s no secret that we have really fast guys up and down the lineup,” captain LaPlante said. “Honestly, every team we play against throughout the country knows that we have built up that reputation [of high quality baserunning]. It’s the same with defense in that it’s working on it every day. It’s making sure that at practice that we have the utmost focus on improving even though we’re already really good at those areas. You can’t be good unless you work at it, and that’s what we’ve done.”
The Bulldogs will now look to gain winning momentum this week as they prepare for a mid-week match-up against Fairfield. The first pitch of the game against the Stags will be thrown at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6 in Fairfield’s Alumni Baseball Diamond. The last time these two squads faced off was in April 2019, which resulted in a narrow 9–10 loss for the Elis.
“We are looking forward to just getting better,” Shaw said about the team’s upcoming game. “We were kind of on a hot streak before, and those Saturday games kind of cooled it down a little. Now, we’re looking to start it back up and we’re trying to take Fairfield, like any game. We are going to take our lessons from this weekend, prepare, practice, and try to get better in the game on Wednesday.”
After playing against the Stags, the Bulldogs will spend their next two weekends at home for three-game conference series match-ups against Dartmouth and Brown.