Bulldogs stay alive with win over Holy Cross

By Joey Kamm | Posted on, 6:59 p.m.
The Bulldogs compiled 13 hits against Holy Cross to advance to the Corvallis regional final. (Yale Athletics)

Facing elimination against Holy Cross, the Yale baseball team stepped up to the plate with a 9–5 victory over the Crusaders, winning multiple games in the same NCAA tournament for the first time since 1948. Second baseman Alex Stiegler ’20 paved the way for the Bulldogs on offense by driving in five RBIs to help the Ivy League champions advance to the Corvallis regional final on Sunday evening.

The Bulldogs came out firing in their third game of the weekend as pitcher Kumar Nambiar ’19 retired the first three batters he faced, including two strikeouts, to begin the game. In the home half of the first inning, Stiegler ripped an RBI double along the third-base line to score center fielder Tim DeGraw ’19. First baseman Griffin Dey ’19 followed it up with an RBI of his own off of Holy Cross pitcher Phil Reese, who was throwing for the second consecutive day, to give Yale a 2–0 lead.

Righthander Ben White came out of the bullpen to replace Reese in the bottom of the second, but third baseman Richard Slenker ’17 tallied his 40th RBI of the season off of a bloop single to score DeGraw in the third. The Patriot League champions continuously kept the Bulldogs at bay, however, by turning three double plays in the first three innings of action to prevent the game from getting out of reach early on.

DeGraw’s double in the fourth tacked on two more runs for Yale to extend his team’s lead to 5–0 while Stiegler hit another RBI in the frame to stretch the Elis’ advantage to six. But Holy Cross continued to battle and got on the scoreboard in the fifth courtesy of a two-RBI double down the left-field line from leftfielder Bill Schlich.

Stiegler effectively put the nail in the Crusaders’ coffin with a bases-clearing, three-run double to record his fifth RBI on the afternoon and give Yale a seven-run lead. Singles by Schlich and designated hitter Kellen McCormick cut into the deficit and reduced the Bulldog lead to 9–5, where it remained for the rest of the afternoon.

Head coach John Stuper elected to pull Nambiar in the eighth inning in favor of righthander Tyler Sapsford ’20, who promptly recorded three quick outs to avoid further damage before collecting the save in the ninth with another three-up, three-down performance.

On a day when Holy Cross used a combined eight pitchers, Nambiar turned in a solid seven-inning effort to preserve Yale’s rotation for further competition versus the Beavers. Shortstop Dai Dai Otaka ’20 also made a number of plays in the infield, including a great throw to first to leave two runners stranded in the top of the seventh.

Yale will take on Oregon State tonight at 10 p.m. ET with another game scheduled for Monday evening should the Bulldogs pull off the upset.

The full box score from Sunday’s matinee can be found here.