The Cornell baseball team began its season this weekend with two double-headers against Bucknell but came up just short in each game.
“In all the games, we were one or two plays away from winning or making the score closer,” junior third baseman Jim Jackson lamented. “[Head] coach [Tom] Ford told us that we hit .150 with two outs, and it seemed like every single time Bucknell scored, it was with two outs.”
Bucknell (4-6) had an advantage going into the weekend as it had knocked its rust off in six games prior to its meeting with the Red.
“That definitely had something to do with it,” Jackson commented about Bucknell’s headstart in the season. “We have to start sometime, we have to get out there and play, and it was good to get those games under our belt, but I wish we had come out on top in at least one or two.”
On Saturday, the Bison put runs on the board early in the first game. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Bucknell used two Cornell errors that advanced a runner and allowed one to score. The Bison got a second run in that inning when Pete Wolf, its first baseman, stole home. That run would be the difference in the game.
Cornell (0-4) answered in the fourth inning when senior right fielder Erik Rico singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and was driven home off a single from senior first baseman Flint Foley. Rico would be the only Cornell player to cross the plate in the game.
Bucknell added insurance in the bottom of the sixth inning with another run, making the final score 3-1.
Senior Brendan McQuaid (0-1) proved that he is still in last season’s form, allowing only one earned run, three hits, and one walk while striking out three. Rico was 2-for-3 in the loss while Foley was 1-for-3 with the RBI.
In the nightcap, Cornell again fell victim to errors.
After scoring three runs in the top of the first, including a two-run homer by Rico, the Bison answered with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning.
Sophomore Dan Baysinger increased the Red’s lead in the fifth with a two-run shot out of the park, but the Bison responded and matched that in the bottom of the inning with a pair of its own runs.
Two frames later, the Bison launched a solo campaign to move ahead.
Bucknell used three singles to tie up the game and have runners on first and second with two outs. A Cornell error allowed the runner on second to score the winning run and make the final tally 6-5.
Sophomore Chris Schutt took the mound for the Red over 4-2/3 innings, giving up four runs, six hits, four walks, and four strikeouts. Baysinger swung a hot bat and went 2-for-3 to notch three RBIs. Rico went 1-for-4 with two RBIs. Foley was the only other Cornell player with a hit — he went 1-for-2.
On Sunday, the Red lead in both games but was unable to hold out to secure a victory.
In the first game, in which the lead see-sawed back and forth four times before it was decided, Cornell used doubles from Foley and junior catcher Tony Depalo in the second inning, as well as several singles, to take a 4-0 lead. Bucknell then tallied one unearned run in the bottom of the second, but added two runs in both the third and fourth innings to regain the lead at 5-4.
The Red tied the score in the top of the fifth with a double from senior left fielder Andrew Luria that scored Rico, and a triple from Jackson in the sixth, followed by a sac fly that gave Cornell a 6-5 lead.
The advantage didn’t last long, as Bucknell plated two runs in the top of the sixth, then shut down the Red to win by a final score of 7-6.
Baysinger was given the nod for 5-2/3 innings of work, giving up four earned runs, nine hits, and three walks. Compared to flawless Bucknell, Cornell was hurt by the three errors it committed that lead to three unearned runs and a loss.
Senior center fielder Justin Irizarry was 1-for-3 in the game with three RBIs. Jackson went 2-for-3 with one RBI and Luria was 1-for-4 with one RBI.
In the second game, Cornell was tighter in the field, committing only one error, but was less productive at the plate and could only accrue two runs in the top of the fourth. An error by the Bisons to start the inning, followed by a double, a groundout, and a single gave the Red a 2-0 lead.
Bucknell responded in timely fashion, as had been the case for the entire weekend, and scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth, two in the fifth, and one in the sixth which made the final score 6-2 in its favor.
The versatile Rico took the mound for Cornell and in 4-1/3 innings surrendered five runs off six hits, but impressively recorded nine strikeouts.
Jackson was 1-for-3 in the game with one RBI, Rico went 1-for-3 with a double, and pinch hitter Javier Alfaro was 1-for-1 in his trip to the plate.
“It was like we were expecting to win these games, and it just didn’t happen. In the sixth and seventh innings, when it matters the most, that’s when we have to play our best. And it was pretty obvious that we didn’t play our best in the sixth and seventh innings,” Jackson sighed. “We lost four games to a team that we could have beaten two, three, maybe four times.”
Cornell will travel to Lafayette in Easton, PA, next weekend for another pair of double-headers.
“We can turn things around this weekend at Lafayette just by working on little things and making the plays when we need to,” Jackson summarized.
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