BASEBALL: Elis prepare to tame the Lions in New York￼
After clinching an 8–7 win against Quinnipiac on Wednesday, the Bulldogs are shifting their focus to New York City, where they will challenge Columbia in a three-game series this weekend.
After a difficult mid-season stretch which included losses against Cornell and Dartmouth, the Yale baseball team (17–11, 7–5 Ivy) has begun to turn things around. The squad has won three of its past four games and looks to extend its success on the road.
On Wednesday, the Bulldogs looked to build upon their momentum from last week’s series victory against Brown as they traveled to Hamden to face the Quinnipiac Bobcats (9–21, 3–6 MAAC). The Blue and White won the game 8–7 and have now triumphed in four of their last five matchups against their in-state rival. Yale faces Columbia (19–13, 10–2 Ivy) next, who currently sits atop the Ivy League rankings. With only three conference opponents left in the season, the Bulldogs must play well to keep their postseason dreams alive.
“We have to look at the rest of these [conference] games as an opportunity,” captain and shortstop Mason LaPlante ’22 said. “If we don’t play at the level we know we can, then it’s going to be a really tough stretch. But what outsiders may deem not possible is possible when you have the right group of guys that believe in what we’re working towards, and we still have that.”
The Bobcats headed into the mid-week matchup against the Bulldogs hoping to avenge a crushing 7–19 loss they suffered in March. Quinnipiac University got on the board first with a one-run sacrifice-fly in the first frame. Yale retaliated with an explosive six-run second inning, which featured three walks, a single, a double, an RBI sacrifice fly and a two-run bomb from two-hole Jimmy Chatfield ’24 — his eighth of the season.
However, the Bobcats fought back, nearly completing an impressive comeback. After scoring two runs in the fifth and sixth frames, Quinnipiac rallied offensively in late innings with a pair of two-RBI blasts. Fortunately, Yale was narrowly able to maintain its lead with an RBI sacrifice fly by left fielder Ben Metzner ’23 and a run scored in the ninth after an error from the Bobcat outfield.
The Blue and White will now focus on their upcoming three-game weekend matchup against Columbia, the top team of the conference. The series will consist of a Saturday doubleheader and a Sunday finale. It will also be the last away series of the season for the Bulldogs, though their last away game will be a non-conference match-up against the University of Connecticut next Wednesday.
The Lions have been dominant so far this season, having only lost two conference games against second-place Penn (22–9, 9–2 Ivy). The blazing-hot squad from New York currently boasts a 12-game winning streak, which includes series sweeps against Brown (8–19, 3–9 Ivy), Harvard (14–16, 5–6 Ivy) and Princeton (5–24, 2–10 Ivy). The Lions’ best performance to date was a colossal 21–12 win against the Crimson. However, the Bulldogs will look to bring an end to their Ancient Eight rival’s victorious stretch.
“Columbia does have a really good offense,” right-handed pitcher Carter Kessinger ’23 said. “But again, we’ve played teams that have had good offenses [this season]. I think that our preparation is just going to be [us speaking] to our fundamentals. We know we can pitch the ball well. We know we can attack hitters. We know that if we get in a good spot, good things will happen. That doesn’t change no matter who we are playing.”
The Yale pitching staff has shone this season but will meet its match in the formidable Columbia lineup. The Lions currently lead the league in slugging percentage, runs scored and total bases and are ranked second in batting average, hits and on-base percentage. The squad from New York is also known to hit for power and extra-base hits, leading the league in doubles and home runs.
Like the Bulldogs, Columbia will also prove to be a menace on the basepaths, as it leads the conference in steal attempts with 72 and is tied with Yale when it comes to successful steals with 56.
“We just have to be confident with our pitches and throw with conviction,” closer Mark Capell ’25 said of the upcoming match. “A lot of times we hold back a little bit and try to pinpoint too much, but I think if we just attack over the zone, good things will happen. We have a great defense behind us, so that’s definitely our strong view. [However, we will give] no free passes and we’ll just let our stuff and our command take control out there.”
The intense rivalry between the Bulldogs and the Lions can be traced back to 1993, the first official year of Ivy League baseball after it replaced the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League. Yale defeated Columbia to clinch the first ever Ivy championship title. Although the Bulldogs won the title again in 2017, they were most recently conference runner-ups after losing against Columbia in 2018.
Though Yale has lost its past six matchups against Columbia, the Blue and White are confident in their ability to challenge the first-ranked team.
“Whenever we prepare for series, we never underestimate,” Kessinger said. “We always approach other teams with the same sort of intensity. I think that’s exactly what we are going to do this weekend [against Columbia]. We are going to come out ready to pitch [and] ready to play baseball. Hopefully, we’ll start [by aiming] for a series victory and maybe we can go for a sweep as well.”
The first game against the Lions will start on Saturday, April 23 at 11:30 a.m. in Robertson Field at Satow Stadium.