BASEBALL: Bulldogs hunt down the Bears in home series win ￼
After losing two consecutive conference series, the Yale baseball team bounced back and showed off its skill last weekend, winning a critical three-game series against Brown on home turf.
After difficult back-to-back conference series losses against Cornell and Dartmouth, the Bulldogs showed what they were truly made of last weekend on George H.W. Bush ’48 Field, overpowering Brown (8–19, 3–9 Ivy) in a gritty three-game match-up.
The Yale baseball team (16–11, 7–5 Ivy) had a strong start to the home series, as it swept both games of its Saturday doubleheader 3–2 and 7–6. The first win came down to late game heroics, as the Elis rallied offensively in extra innings to clinch the victory with a clutch walk-off single. However, on Sunday, the Blue and White failed to defend a two-run lead after four innings, losing the finale 3–4 and falling short of a series sweep.
The Bulldogs now find themselves at a critical juncture. With the outcome of the series against the sixth-place Bears, Yale now sits in fourth place in the Ivy League standings, behind Columbia (16–10, 7–4), Penn (22–9, 9–2) and Dartmouth (16–13, 8–4). The Blue and White’s three remaining conference series will determine whether they will qualify for the postseason. Only the top two teams of the regular season will be able to advance.
“Any time you can walk away from a weekend with a series win, it’s a pretty good feeling,” captain and shortstop Mason LaPlante ’22 told the News. “Brown has a good team, and any game played during that series could have gone either way, but our guys played hard and we were fortunate enough to win the series at home.”
Having lost the first games of their series against the Big Red and Big Green, the Bulldogs were eager to set a strong tone early in the match-up against Brown. Yale got on the scoreboard first with an RBI-single from designated hitter Teddy Hague ’21 GRD ’22 in the bottom of the first frame. However, after two subsequent scoreless innings for both teams, the Bears retaliated and tied the game with a solo blast to left field by junior outfielder Derian Morphew.
The fireworks continued in the next inning, as first-year left fielder Jared Johnson brought in the go-ahead run for Brown with a bomb of his own. This time, though, the Bulldogs made sure to also invite themselves to the home run party. Two-hole Jimmy Chatfield ’24 spoiled the Bears’ short-lived celebrations by sending one out of the park in the bottom of the fifth inning, leveling the score 2–2. The home run was part of a strong 2–3 performance at the plate for the junior from San Diego, who contributed to all three runs of the game.
Strong performances on the mound by the starting arms of the match-up dominated the low-scoring first game of the doubleheader. Brown’s Bobby Olsen and Yale’s Michael Walsh ’23 allowed only two runs in their respective outings. However, Walsh out-pitched his counterpart, striking out 11 batters and allowing only four hits through seven innings. By contrast, Olsen lasted a little over six innings but was less dominant on the mound, striking out two batters and allowing six hits.
After four shutout frames for both squads, the closely-matched game extended to extra innings, where the Bulldogs prevailed. Clean-up hitter Ben Metzner ’23 gave the Bulldogs the walk-off win in the bottom of the tenth with an RBI-single to right field. The excitement from the hit remained a little less than an hour later, as both squads returned to the field to play the second game of the day.
“The fact that we got the walk-off was huge,” right-handed pitcher Carter Kessinger ’23 said. “Really, any kind of comeback victory is great for morale. It tells you that no matter if you are down, if it is close or whatnot, it doesn’t matter, because we always have the capacity to win. So, I think that the first game was definitely huge. Then, obviously, rolling into the second game of the doubleheader and winning was big as well.”
Once again, in the second Saturday game, the Bulldogs struck first. First baseman Colton Shaw ’25 put the Elis on the board with an RBI single in the bottom of the second frame. The Blue and White also had a big third inning, where they scored three runs after an error from the Bears and a single from third baseman Carson Swank ’23, who was phenomenal in the game. The infielder from Virginia had a strong 3–4 performance at the plate, which included a solo go-ahead blast in the seventh inning.
The Bears retaliated with an offensive surge of their own that started in the fifth inning, scoring six runs in the next three frames. Fortunately, the Bulldogs were able to re-assert dominance by scoring three more runs for the 7–6 victory. Solid pitching performances in relief by Kessinger, who earned his first season win in the game, and by pitcher Mark Capell ’25 allowed the Elis to retain their lead.
This was not the case in the series finale, however, as the Bulldogs were unable to maintain or significantly extend a two-run advantage against the Bears after four innings. The two runs came after an RBI-double from LaPlante and a one-run home run from Hague, his second of the season. After Brown fought back by driving in three runs with two singles and a homer, LaPlante once again came in clutch in the seventh, tying the game with an RBI-groundout. Despite the Bulldogs’ best efforts, the Bears refused to go down quietly. The squad from Rhode Island wrestled another run from Yale with an RBI-groundout of their own in the ninth inning. In the end, the Elis were unable to match the score.
“We have to do a better job of executing with runners in scoring position, plain and simple,” LaPlante reflected. “We can get guys on base, but lately we have not been able to bring those runs across.”
The Bulldogs now turn their attention to the busy week ahead of them. Before traveling to New York this coming weekend to face off against Columbia, the top team of the league, the Elis will head to Hamden for a mid-week game against Quinnipiac (9–20, 3–6 MAAC).
Yale last battled against its in-state rival earlier this season. The Bulldogs avenged a 8–12 loss in 2019 by exploding offensively and crushing the Bobcats in a dominant 19–7 victory, the highest scoring game of the season to date for the Blue and White. The lineup made 17 hits and homered twice to clinch the home win in late March. Though the Bobcats will head into this week’s match-up with some momentum after recently winning a three-game series against Monmouth, the Elis will look to replicate its past success against Quinnipiac.
“As a team, our chemistry has been great recently,” Capell said. “[I’m looking forward to] just going out there, competing and having a lot of fun playing this game. Quinnipiac will be a good jump-start to get us back on track in order to go compete at Columbia this weekend. We know what’s on the line for us, and we know what we’ve got to do, so we’re just going to go out there and do what we have to.”
The first pitch of the game against the Bobcats will be thrown at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20 at the Quinnipiac Baseball Field.