BASEBALL: Elis fall short against No. 15 UConn, now look to bounce back against Penn
After losing a mid-week matchup against UConn 4–8, the Bulldogs will now turn their attention to their three-game series against Penn this weekend.
As the Yale baseball team (17–15, 7–8 Ivy) enters the final stretch of the season, only two series remain.
Having lost their last four games, the Blue and White are in the midst of a challenging stretch. Yale’s hopes of playing in the postseason disappeared last weekend after being swept by Columbia (23–13, 13–2 Ivy) in a three-game away series. On Wednesday, the Elis fell short of a comeback in late innings against No. 15 UConn (34–8, 7–8 Big East), losing their individual matchup against the Huskies 4–8.
“The team battled really well at UConn,” closer Mark Capell ’25 said. “We had 14 hits, [but] we just couldn’t piece together as many runs as we would’ve liked. They are a talented hitting team that as a pitcher I would’ve liked to [challenge] in the zone more, but they are a strong opponent for sure.”
The Bulldogs showed grit in the Battle of the Hounds against UConn. The Huskies, who were unanimously chosen in the preseason as the favorites to win their conference, had enjoyed significant success prior to their match-up against the Elis. Yale’s in-state rival is currently ranked fifteenth in the nation and has won 15 out of its last 16 games.
In the game on Wednesday, the Huskies struck first. With two-way player Jimmy Chatfield ’24 on the mound, the UConn lineup scored early by driving home a run in the first inning. The Huskies proceeded to score five more runs in the next four innings. They further solidified their lead with a two-run eighth frame.
The Huskies’ first-year starter, Ian Cooke, who currently has an ERA of only 1.71, was phenomenal on the mound and pitched six shutout innings against the Elis. After those frames, the Bulldogs attacked the opposing bullpen and were able to put themselves on the board with a three-run seventh that cut UConn’s lead by half. However, Yale was unable to successfully pull off a comeback and were only able to score one more run in the ninth.
In their upcoming games, the Blue and White will look to further improve their performances at the plate, especially in regards to situational hitting. Pitcher Carter Kessinger ’23 said that the team “definitely [has] room for improvement.” He added that “[Yale] can always pitch the ball better, [and] do a better job in trying to string hits together and scoring runs in key situations with runners on base.”
The Bulldogs will also look to maximize their strengths on the mound. In an early April interview with the News, Yale ace Grant Kipp ’22 said that one area the staff was looking to improve upon was “doing a better job when ahead of the count,” especially when it came to efficiently “putting people away and trying to get more strikeouts.”
Yale will now look to turn things around this weekend as it prepares to face off against Penn (25–10, 12–2 Ivy), which is ranked second in the Ivy League. The three-game series will begin on Friday, April 29 at 1 p.m. The Quakers have won every conference series they have had so far this season, only losing two individual games against Columbia and Dartmouth (19–15, 10–5 Ivy). Penn will be traveling to New Haven with momentum after recent sweeps against Brown (8–22, 3–12 Ivy), Cornell (9–20, 4–11 Ivy) and Harvard (16–18, 7–7 Ivy).
The Quakers are a balanced team with a formidable offense and a strong pitching staff. At the plate, their line-up is disciplined and consistent, leading the league in both walks and on-base percentage. The Penn batters are also not afraid of being aggressive at the plate, and are ranked second in the conference in batting average, slugging percentage and hits.
To clinch a series win against Penn, the Bulldogs will have to showcase their offensive strengths and exploit any weaknesses in the opposing pitching staff, which has been among the strongest in the Ivy League. The Quaker arms have been outstanding this season, leading the league in batters struck out, least hits allowed, least runs allowed and wins. Penn’s pitchers will enter the series against Yale with a combined ERA of 4.12, the lowest in the conference. They have also limited opposing batters to a 0.232 batting average.
“Facing Penn this weekend, we need to bring a lot of energy and fight in us,” Capell said. “They are a very strong hitting team … so we are going to have to pound ahead, throw with conviction and play solid defense to win this series. As a team, we have goals to finish as best as possible, which starts with the game on Friday.”
The Bulldogs’ record in George H.W. Bush ’48 Field is currently 7–3, which is an improvement compared to their last full season in 2019, where they had a home record of 5–5.