In baseball, it’s usually three strikes and you’re out; however Cornell’s team will take a fourth swing at opening its season this afternoon. The Red had three games scheduled in Philadelphia this past weekend, any of which would have been the team’s season opener, but all of the games were rained out. The Red will hope for clear skies in Ithaca today as it attempts to take on local foe Binghamton in an afternoon doubleheader, set to begin at 1 p.m. at Hoy Field.
Junior right-handers Corey Pappel and Taylor Wood are penciled in as the Red’s starting pitchers for today’s games. Pappel and Wood were among eight pitchers who tied for the team lead with two wins last season. Pappel sported a 5.36 ERA, while Wood’s ERA was 6.44.
One of Wood’s best performances came in the team’s game against Binghamton last April. In that game, he allowed just six base runners and one run in seven innings of work. Two RBI from Nathan Ford ’09 and a home run from current junior Jadd Schmeltzer provided all the offense Cornell needed to earn a 3-1 victory.
Like Cornell, Binghamton was rained out this past weekend, but unlike the Red, the Bearcat schedule opened in February. The Bearcats are 1-6 this season, their only win coming from a game against Tennessee. Junior Peter Bregartner, who has only played in four of the seven games, leads the team with two home runs and a .462 batting average. Senior Joe Charron has a team-leading 13 hits, giving him a .448 average.
Pitching has been a problem for the Bearcats since early on. The team’s staff has given up 86 hits and 35 walks in just 56.1 innings. The result is an ugly 8.63 team ERA.
The Red finished last season with an overall record of 17-23. Cornell managed to sneak into the Ivy League championship series by virtue of playing in the weaker of the two Ivy League divisions. Cornell and Princeton tied for the best record in the Gehrig division by each winning half of their 20 Ivy League contests. The Red won a playoff against Princeton to advance to the championship series, but lost the decisive third game of that series to Dartmouth.
Fifth year senior Kyle Groth –– second on the team in RBI in 2008 –– is expected to return today after sitting out last season with a medical redshirt resulting from a season-ending preseason injury. He will play both corner outfield spots and may see time at first base and designated hitter.
“He’s in probably the best shape he’s ever been in,” Schmeltzer said.
Cornell is hoping that a more experienced pitching staff will lead it to an even more successful campaign this season. If the weather finally holds up for the Red, that quest will begin today.
“Everyone’s just real excited to finally get out there for our first game,” Schmeltzer said. “I think we should be coming out firing on all cylinders.”