The grind of Ivy League play continues this weekend for Cornell baseball as the team hits the road to play a pair of doubleheaders against Brown and Yale. The Red will look to establish itself as a serious Ivy League contender.
Cornell (8-9, 2-0 Ivy) is coming off a two-game sweep of Harvard (7-15, 0-4 Ivy) in which everything seemed to be going right.
“Pitching, defense and timely hitting were huge last weekend,” said junior infielder Frankie Padulo. “We had some big hits at the right times and the pitchers made big pitches and we backed them up with big plays to get us out of some jams and swing the momentum back into our dugout.”
Head coach Dan Pepicelli and the Red hope to continue this success when they face Brown (7-13, 1-3 Ivy) and Yale (7-18-1, 2-2 Ivy).
“Clutch hitting,” Pepicelli said concerning what his team needs to keep doing. “No doubt about it … we got our hits [against Harvard] at the right time. We did a really good job of situational hitting.”
Against the top two teams in the Red Rolfe Division, Cornell will need to be on top of its game as the the men dip their feet more into the Ivy League, according to Pepicelli.
“It’ll be the the same as we did this past weekend,” Pepicelli said. “We’re just trying to learn a little more about Ivy League play. We faced two really good arms this past weekend. I think we know what we are in for.”
Pepicelli also commented on the first difficulties associated with back-to-back Ivy matchups.
“It will be really tough playing both of them on the road,” Pepicelli said. “We are focused on having a couple real good days of practice and then going ahead and being ready for them.”
There is nothing particular about Brown and Yale that will make the Red change its approach, according to Pepicelli. Aside from Yale potentially having strong base running, Cornell is simply focusing on doing what the team does.
“Our expectation at Brown and Yale is simple — we expect to play baseball to our standard every game,” said junior right-handed pitcher Tim Willittes.
“[The games] are pretty standard,” Pepicelli said. “Yale likes to run … their stolen base numbers are a little more than average. Outside that, both of them have their share of starting pitching that we got to try and break through and get to the bullpen.”
Padulo also noted the importance of getting through the opponent’s starting pitchers.
“We had success off of Harvard’s pen, and I think that is a recipe we can have success with against other teams,” Padulo said.
The players agree with Pepicelli that these games are not much different from other games in the Ivy League. Padulo feels it is anyone’s game, as usual.
“All Ivy League games are hard fought, and we don’t expect these to be any different,” Padulo said. “One of the things that makes the Ivy League exciting is that anybody can beat anybody on any given day, so we have to bring focus and energy and play up to our standard every time we go out there.”
Some unexpected cold and snowy weather surprised Cornellians coming back from spring break. This change in weather is not ideal for a team trying to stay consistent.
“You are trying to keep the starters in a routine and that interrupts that,” Pepicelli said. “But you just trust that everybody goes through it. It plays on our organization and we try to put it in our advantage since we are a pretty organized group.”
The pitchers for this weekend will be junior right-hander Paul Balestrieri and Willittes for the first day, and sophomore left-hander Justin Lewis and junior right-hander Peter Lanoo against Yale on the second.
Balestrieri was named Ivy League pitcher of the week after striking out seven in seven innings while not giving up an earned run against Harvard. Hopefully, he can bring that solid play against Brown on Saturday.