Splitting a doubleheader with Penn, Cornell prepared for victory in yesterday’s game with Binghamton. The Red flipped-flopped with the Bearcats for the lead throughout the game. At first, the Red grabbed an early lead. Then in the second, the Bearcats took charge but from the fourth inning throughout the rest of the game, Cornell domineered and closed the game to steal the win thanks in huge part to the dominance of their pitchers.
In the first, Cornell (28-11-1 Ivy) jumped out to an early lead against Binghamton (15-17), grabbing two runs off of three hits.
Heading into the second, freshman pitcher Roberto Suppa walked the first two, let up a single and hit a batter to start off the inning. The second single of the inning pushed the Bearcats to 2-1. An easy hit to third gave the Red its first out. A wild pitch led to the Bearcat’s second run against the Red, tying the score up. A double to left from Binghamton put the Bearcats in the lead, 5-2.
Freshman pitcher Eric Upton then replaced Suppa on the mound to give it a go. Upton struck out his first batter and then a hit to third finished off the defensive part of the second inning for the Red.
“We got off to a quick start, we got two runs on the board in the first,” said senior Brian Billigen. “Our starting pitcher had trouble finding the zone, but we all just kind of picked him up, like we always do, and he bullpen had like six innings of no-hit balls.”
In the offensive part of the second, senior Brandon Lee struck out, soon to be followed by a pop out by sophomore Ben Swinford. Freshman J.D. Whetsel turned it around and hit a double to the left field fence. Whetsel advanced to third on a wild pitch, as junior Brenton Peters forced the third out with a hit to the second baseman.
Junior Mike Kazley came to the mound at the start of the third inning to have a go against Binghamton and sat them down with a quick and easy inning.
“[The pitchers] have been fundamentally important to our success this year. Our starting rotation is the reason we are where we are. We have been consistent since day one,” said head coach Bill Walkenbach. “We are in a really good spot with our starting rotation and we are just excited every time we go out there, because we know we have a chance to win with them on the mound.”
As the third inning turned over, the Red sent up senior Marshall Yanzick to the plate, who flew out to right field. Billigen then ended up poking one to the pitcher to make the second out of the inning. Sophomore Chris Cruz struck out lunging for the final out of the inning.
“I think the two guys that had the biggest impact on the game [today,]” said Walkenbach. “Were Brenton Peters and Mike Kazley. Mike did a great job of settling things down on the mound. After Eric Upton got us out of a tough situation in the second, but Mike Kazley threw the next three innings of scoreless, hitless ball and really settled things down. Brenton Peters came up with some big hits today that put us back into the ballgame.”
The fourth inning started off with a hit to third resulting in the first out and a strikeout for the second. The third out was a dink to the shortstop that caused the Red to once again head to the plate to hit. Senior Frank Hager started the bottom of the fourth off with a double to right field that was narrowly missed by Binghamton’s outfielder. With Hager on second, freshman Kevin Tatum ended up walking. This put two ducks in a row, Lee put up an out, which resulted in a man on first and third. Swinford struck out, which brought up Whetsel who ended up walking, to grab the Red another run to make it 5-3. Peters then doubled to grab another run for the Red, reducing the margin by which the Red trailed, to 5-4. Thanks to a wild pitch during Yanzick’s at-bat, the Red snuck in another run to tie everything up, 5-5. An additional wild pitch placed Yanzick on first and allowed Peters to score, putting the Red in the lead. Billigen flew out to end the inning with Cornell in the lead, 6-5.
The Bearcats then came out in the fifth looking to capitalize on opportunities, but after a quick inning, the Red returned to bat in the bottom of the fifth. Cruz struck out for the second time that day, which brought up Hager who flew out to first. Tatum came up next and singled to left to bring up Lee. Lee then singled to right to bring speedy Tatum home for the seventh run for the Red. Swinford followed but Lee was thrown out at second before Tatum could complete his at bat.
As the sixth rolled around, senior Jeeter Ishida came to the mound. He forced three quick outs for the Red. After a quick pitching change for Binghamton, Swinford flew out to center. Followed by Whetsel who flew out to right and then Peters who struck out for the third.
In the seventh, the Red had another pitching change as it brought in junior T.J. Parthemer to give it a go. He grabbed the first thanks to a fly-out to second and a pop out to right for the second. Parthemer then walked one and then struck the last one out swinging.
The Red then grabbed two more insurance runs in the eighth to give Cornell the victory over Binghamton, 9-5.
Cornell heads into the weekend with a doubleheader at home against Princeton on Friday and then a doubleheader on the Tigers’ home field on Sunday. Cornell now heads the Gehrig division with an 81.2% record of winning, while Princeton follows closely behind with a 62.5% record. This may seem like a wide margin; however, three games separate these Ivy foes heading into future competition and the race to be Ivy champs is culminating in the next few weeks.
“In any situation where you have the chance to clinch … the challenge is staying in the moment and trying not to think about the end before you have gotten there. We keep reminding our players to focus on what is in front of them and not get ahead of themselves mentally. It has been working for us all year and we expect to do the same this weekend,” Walkenbach said.
“[The] team goals are to win an Ivy League Championship and get to NCAA Regionals … I want to play in the College World Series with this team. I have made the best friends in the past four years and I want to spend as much time as I can with these guys before I have to graduate,” Billigen said.