April 18, 2005

Baseball Earns Three Ivy Wins

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The luster of New York City baseball franchises is diminishing. With the aging Yankees fumbling to a 4-8 record and the enigmatic Mets staving off an inevitable internal collapse, the pressure falls on Columbia to uphold the Big Apple’s revered reputation on the diamond. Fortunately for the Red, the Lions lack the bite to do so.

In a duo of doubleheaders at Andy Coakley Field over the weekend, Cornell emerged victorious in three out of the four contests. With the wins, the Red improved its overall record to 10-15 (4-7 Ivy) while Columbia continued its freefall in the division standings, falling to 4-27 overall (2-14 Ivy).

“Obviously, we would have liked to win all four games,” said Cornell head coach Tom Ford. “But three out of four is a step in the right direction.”

An episode of late-game heroics ensured a win for the Red in Saturday’s series opener, a 5-3 thriller that required eight innings to decide. Down to its final out and trailing by two runs in the top of the seventh, the Red avoided defeat when junior second baseman Seth Gordon blasted a two-RBI double to the outfield, tying the score at 3-3. In the extra inning, sophomore Jim Hyland scored junior Michael Weiss and freshman Jim Heinz with a two-out double and rookie pitcher Walker Toma retired the side to complete the come-from-behind victory.

Junior righthander Rocky Collis pitched seven strong innings from the starter’s spot, allowing nine hits and two earned runs while striking out five. Columbia freshman Billy Curdy gave up five runs — only two earned — and 10 hits in the loss. Cornell rookie outfielders Brian Kaufman and Ry Kagan both went 2-for-4 in the victory.

The Red prevailed in the nightcap without such dramatics, scoring seven runs in the first three innings of a 9-6 win. Seniors Matt Miller and Conor Kelly each collected two RBIs and junior catcher William Pauly went 3-for-4 with two runs scored to cement Cornell’s first three-game winning streak of the season.

The Red hammered Lions’ starter Brendan Quinn (0-6), who surrendered six runs off seven hits in the opening 1 2/3 innings. Reliever Daniel Bajger did not fare much better, allowing three more runs to score prior to the sixth inning. For Cornell, senior lefty Tad Bardenwerper (2-3) was credited with his second victory of the season following a seven-inning, nine-hit effort. Sophomore Adam Loeding squelched Columbia’s ninth inning comeback attempt, stranding two base runners to earn the save.

“In the first game, we hung in there and stole one from them,” Ford said. “In the second game, we played pretty good baseball all around.”

Columbia roared back in yesterday’s opener, riding a four-run offensive outburst in the fourth inning to a 10-4 victory. After Miller bombed his second home run of the season in the top of the first, the Lions scored three runs in the first three innings before jumping out to a 7-1 lead in the fourth. Columbia sophomore Tighe Holden’s three-run homer to right centerfield capped the Lions’ advantage and effectively pushed the game out of reach for the Red. Cornell found it difficult to solve Columbia starter John Baumann, who struck out seven batters over six innings.

Cornell bounced back with a 10-4 win of its own in the final game of the series, led chiefly by the offensive efforts of Kaufman — who went 4-for-5 with two triples and three RBIs. Senior righthander Dan Gala (2-2) silenced the prolific Columbia hitters from the first game, allowing only three earned runs off 10 hits while striking out six.

After falling behind initially 2-0, Cornell tied the score in the third inning behind RBIs from Kaufman and Miller. The Red methodically tacked on at least one run in each inning for the rest of the ballgame, including a three-run eighth highlighted by Kagan’s first career home run.

“Coming off the first game, there was just a different attitude,” Kaufman said. “We played with a lot more confidence in the second game. A lot of guys did a lot of different things to help out the team.”

The three victories edged the Cornell squad closer to Gehrig Division leaders Penn and Princeton, who split two doubleheaders in Philadelphia. The Red continues its league schedule this Wednesday against Brown in a makeup doubleheader at Hoy Field.

Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Senior Editor