Like much of the student body that is looking forward to warmer weather this spring break, the Cornell baseball team (3-3) will also head off to sunnier destinations, as it takes a week-long road trip to the west coast. The Red will play seven consecutive games beginning Sunday, including separate two- and three-game series against UC-Santa Barbara, sandwiching a pair of games at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.
Cornell’s spring break trip comes on the heels of its impressive road trip to the Philadelphia area last weekend. After a convincing sweep of Saint Joseph’s in a doubleheader on Saturday, the Red just fell short of pulling out a third straight victory on Sunday, falling to Villanova, 7-6, in 11 innings.
As was the case last year, the strengths of this year’s team so far has been its pitching and defense. Having only allowed an average of four runs per game, the pitching staff has been able to rely on solid starting pitching combined with outstanding performances by relievers. Senior Luke Staskal has been the most impressive starter so far, compiling a 1.69 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 10.2 innings of work. Sophomore Rocky Collis and senior Dan Gala have also put in quality innings in their starter roles, as each earned a victory in the doubleheader sweep over the Hawks last Saturday.
However, the real key to the Red’s success on the mound has been its relievers. In a combined 13.2 innings spread over seven appearances, juniors Tad Bardenwerper, Matt Light, Conor Kelly and senior Sam Sinkavich have given up only one earned run while striking out 12. Bardenwerper has been the biggest stud of this group, as he has compiled a 0.00 ERA with nine strikeouts in only 6.1 innings of work. He also earned the save in the first game of the doubleheader against Saint Joseph’s.
Cornell has accomplished this success without the services of senior starter Dan Baysinger, who had been injured with a fractured non-pitching hand. Baysinger made his first appearance of this season in relief last weekend, pitching two innings without allowing a run.
Meanwhile, the Cornell bats have supplied quite a bit of run support through the team’s first six games. Averaging almost seven runs a game, the team has surpassed the five run mark in four of its six games, including a 13-run outburst against Saint Joseph’s.
Leading the offense, senior Jon Finch, sophomore Seth Gordon, and freshman Kaleb Hutchinson have each batted over .300 while consistently starting. Already with a game winning homerun to his credit, Finch has emerged as the leading run producer for the team with seven RBIs. Meanwhile, Hutchinson and Gordon, having scored 12 runs between them, lead the team in doubles with four a piece.
Sophomore Matt Miller and senior Dan Parant have also been keys offensively for the Red. Leading all starters with a .519 on-base percentage and eight walks, Miller has crossed the plate half a dozen times. Parant, a co-captain with Finch, has compiled a .250 batting average with four RBIs.