Cornell’s bats were cracking but its gloves were lacking, as the team gave up eight unearned runs in its season-opening four-game series against Bucknell this weekend in Lewisburg, Pa. The Red took the first of Saturday’s doubleheader, 6-4, but fell 10-4 in game two. The Bison swept yesterday’s action taking the first game, 3-1, and the second game, 9-6.
“We would’ve liked to come away with more wins,” said head coach Tom Ford. “We were pretty inconsistent defensively at times, which could be a little bit [because it’s] early in the season, but certainly there were a couple of things that happened that shouldn’t happen, whether it’s early in the season or late in the season. We just mentally have to sure up some things.”
Bucknell (3-4) took the early lead in game one on Saturday, with an RBI single in the first. The Bison added two more in the fourth on a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice. Cornell (1-3) came storming back in the fifth, however, when senior Seth Gordon and sophomore Jimmy Heinz led off the inning with singles. Sophomore centerfielder Brian Kaufman then launched a three-run homer to tie the game at 3-3.
The Red wasn’t finished at the plate, adding three more runs in the sixth to take the lead for good. Bucknell would get one back in the seventh before junior pitcher Tom Laughlin closed out the game by fanning Bucknell’s Chris Brannan.
Senior Rocky Collis pitched five solid innings in the win, giving up three runs on five hits. Laughlin closed out the final two innings of the game, giving up only two hits and one unearned run.
The Bison stampeded to an early lead in game two of Saturday’s double header, scoring seven runs in the first three innings.
Junior Jim Hyland struggled through four innings, giving up eight runs (five earned), on eight hits while surrendering five walks. Freshman Stephen Osterer came on in relief and looked strong, giving up two unearned runs on two hits in four innings of work.
“Hyland wasn’t pitching as aggressively at first as he was the next couple of innings so they got out to a 6-0 lead,” Ford said.
Cornell would score two runs in the fourth and seventh innings but couldn’t match Bucknell’s offense, which banged out 10 hits and took advantage of the eight free passes handed out by Cornell’s pitchers.
“We battled back and scored some runs, but we just couldn’t get over the hump,” Ford said.
Gordon had three of the Red’s nine hits on the game. Bucknell’s Kyle Walter was a homerun short of the cycle with four hits and two RBIs on the game.
Cornell caught the wrong end of a pitcher’s duel in yesterday’s game one. Sophomore Bryce Klinesteker pitched five solid innings, giving up three runs on four hits while passing out three bases on balls. Freshman Chris Carls also pitched a scoreless inning of work.
The day, however, belonged to Bison’s starter Nathan Mittag.
Mittag struck out seven Red batters and gave up only one unearned run on his way to recording a complete-game two-hitter.
“It was a very good ballgame. [Mittag] did a nice job on us,” Ford said. “I’m not sure if our approach was quite what it should have been at the plate, we weren’t quite as aggressive as we should’ve been.”
Freshman Domenic Di Ricco drove in the Red’s only run of the game with a sac fly to right field in the fourth.
Cornell stormed out to an early 5-1 lead in game two, but the Bison came charging back with five runs in the fourth to take a one-run lead, and tacked on three more runs to seal the 9-6 victory.
“We got a little choppy defensively, and they took the lead,” Ford said. “They made the plays to win the game defensively, and we didn’t do enough to win.”
Junior Blake Hamilton gave up six eared runs in only 3 1/3 innings of work, while sophomore Walker Toma came out of the bullpen and gave up one earned run in 4 2/3 innings.
Bucknell out-slugged the Red 16-to-14 on the game. Freshman catcher Brant McKown led the Red with three hits and two RBIs. Freshman Scott Hardinger also had two RBIs, going 2-for-4 with a double.
“Hardinger did a great job defensively. He made just some outstanding plays, balls in the hole and had a quick release getting people and he did a great job,” Ford said. “He swung the bat well most of the weekend.”
Hardinger’s double was only Cornell’s second extra-base hit of the early season. The Red have hit 33 singles.
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Assistant Sports Editor