This weekend was a four-game series of good baseball for the Red, as it took three of four games from Ivy foe Columbia. On Saturday, Cornell (24-8-1, 10-2 Ivy League) swept the doubleheader, with the first game going into extra innings dues to consistent pitching, a solid defense and a forward moving offense. The series continued on Sunday with a delay for pending rain that pushed the first start time back an hour and a half, before the Red could match up against Columbia (14-19, 6-6), splitting the day, 1-1.
The first game on Saturday was a duel between pitchers. Sophomore Connor Kaufmann pitched a complete-game in the opener for the Red, allowing only one unearned run and five hits. However, Kaufmann faced off against Columbia’s starter Pat Lowery, who sat down eight while allowing just two hits and no runs through six innings against the Red. The one unearned run came in the third, which Cornell answered back in the seventh to send the game into extra innings. In the eight, sophomore Ryan Plantier hit a sacrifice fly to right with bases loaded to score senior Brian Billigen with the winning run, which grabbed the victory from Columbia, 2-1.
“We have been getting consecutively good starts by [our pitchers],” said junior pitcher Mike Kazley. “Connor Kaufmann has been an animal in shutting guys down.”
The second game of the day began with early action, as junior infielder Brenton Peters led off the Red with a double to right-center, followed by senior infielder Marshall Yanzick’s single to center that put runners on the corners. With one out, sophomore Chris Cruz hit an RBI groundout to drive Peters in. Senior infielder Frank Hager’s RBI two-out double then sent Yanzick in from third. Next, Tatum drove in his second run for the day with a single down the left field line. After the early action, no Red runners were able to advance past second for the rest of the game. However, the victory was due, in part, to freshman pitcher Brian McAfee who had the best start in his collegiate career, making his record 5-0, with a team-high 43 innings.
Cornell faced threatening skies on Sunday morning, which pushed the noon start time back an hour and half. Once the Red took to the field, the first two innings did not look promising as the Lions grabbed two early on. However, in the third, sophomore Tom D’Alessandro hit a long ball over the left field fence to bring Cornell back into the game. Cruz followed the momentum with a second homer for the Red, putting Cornell up by one. The Red was able to hold off the Lions for the rest of the game; however, there was a close call in the seventh when Columbia loaded the bases, but the Red was able to stave off the Lions, securing the third win of the weekend, 5-4.
“You have a new approach to every single game and you have to go out there and try and win,” Kazley said. “We were happy to win the first one, but in the second one we were starting over.”
In the fourth game of the series, Columbia managed to overtake the Red, 5-1. The series ended favorably for Cornell, as the Red took three out of the four contested games.
As of the end of game play on Saturday, the Red sat on top of the Ivy League with a 9-1 record, just squeezing past Princeton who was 8-2 so far. The fight to the finish seems to be a grudge match between the Red and the Tigers, as both fight for the top spot.
“Our last weekend is against [Princeton] at home, so that weekend will really be pivotal,” Kazley said. “We have been winning all of our games, but they pretty much have been too. We are trying to just catch a break and run away with it.”
Looking forward, Cornell will play Siena College at home, before heading into the weekend with a four-game series against Penn.
“[Our] hopes for the future are to win our half first [and] crush the other side in the best of three and go to the NCAA Regionals,” Kazley said.