On Senior Weekend at Hoy Field, Cornell dropped three of four to Princeton to close out the Ivy League segment of the Red’s season. The Tigers (22-18, 13-7 Ivy) sewed up the Lou Gehrig Division and the Red (14-24, 7-13 Ivy) remained mired in last place. Cornell has one more game this season at Binghamton Wednesday.
The games on Friday were moved up a few hours to avoid impending rain, and game one of the weekend started at 10 a.m. Cornell head coach Dan Pepicelli said the rescheduling did not change his team’s preparation and he was happy they were able to get the games in. Princeton’s bats were not deterred either, as they jumped out to a first inning two-run lead and led 3-0 midway through the fifth. Junior third baseman Tommy Wagner credits his team’s toughness for not ending the game’s story right there.
“We have been coached to play just as hard and with the same intensity no matter the situation in the game,” he said. “As the game continued, we were able to put together good at bats and score some runs to let us back in the game.”
Wagner, hitting .341 on the season, sick with the flu, went hitless in his four at bats in the morning game on Friday and did not play for the rest of the weekend. Pepicelli said that junior pitcher Paul Balestrieri was also sick this weekend, and pitched on Saturday instead of Friday as planned.
Cornell scored the tying run in the bottom of the seventh (and last scheduled) inning and had the winning run on third with just one out in the inning. The men failed to capitalize and Princeton won the game 4-3 with a run of its own in the top of the eighth.
“One run right there is going to make the difference one way or another,” Pepicelli said, adding that it was unfortunate Cornell was not able to score a fourth run in the seventh. “We haven’t had a ton of [offensive] opportunities this year.”
The second game on Friday saw a near complete shutdown of the Cornell offense. Princeton junior pitcher Chris Powers did not allow a baserunner until the seventh inning and the Red lost, 6-1.
“He was a good arm,” Pepicelli said. “I thought he did a really nice job. We couldn’t get anything offensively.”
Saturday saw the series shift venues to Princeton. Game three was all sophomore centerfielder Dale Wickham. He homered three times and drove the four Red runs in a 4-3 Cornell victory. A three-homer game is not in the recent annals of Cornell baseball history.
“Dale is an extremely talented ball player,” said junior first baseman Cole Rutherford. “He had been working hard with Coach [Tom] Ford during the week on his timing and this weekend just proved how lethal of a hitter he is. He’s been solid for us the entire year, this weekend was no different.”
The final game of the series again saw Cornell’s bats go dormant, yet again. The Red did not score until the ninth inning against junior lefthander Keelan Smithers, losing 7-2.
“The lefthander did a really nice job,” Pepicelli said. “We’ve been really slow offensively.”
Pepicelli said this weekend’s offensive struggles are an excellent “snapshot of the season.” He said the team will have to go back to the drawing board this offseason to be better.
“I’m really disappointed in the season,” Pepicelli said. “It’s not the work ethic … they gave us everything.”
Between the two Friday games, Cornell honored its graduating seniors. Pepicelli appreciates their adapting to a new head coach after three years under a different one.
“The seniors have been a great group,” he said. “They helped institute the changes and culture that I wanted to.”