Having dropped five out of its first six games, Cornell’s baseball team will spend spring break in sunny Florida. Escaping the unpredictable and often inclement weather of the Northeast, the Red has eight games scheduled during its sojourn south. The trip will pit the ballclub against several opponents from upper echelon conferences, highlighted by an encounter with Big Ten favorite and 2001 NCAA Regional participant Ohio State. Games against fellow cold weather ballclubs include Chicago State, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Kansas State, Drexel, Rider and Northwestern, as well as a contest against Atlantic Sun Conference member Florida Atlantic.
Though the Red has won only once over its first six games, a combination of bad luck and defensive miscues at inopportune times cost the contingent a handful of wins. In fact, five of its first six games have been decided by two runs or less, with the Red coming up empty in two one-run games.
Despite these early season woes, Cornell’s baseball contingent remains upbeat about its ability to rebound and move their record toward the .500 mark. While the Red has been positive about its early season performances against solid Bucknell and Lafayette teams, it realizes that moral victories are not sufficient.
Tri-captain and senior outfielder Erik Rico, leading the team in numerous offensive categories, spoke of the Red’s disappointing record saying, “Overall, it all comes down to wins and losses. You can say we should be 5-1 all you want, and we could be, but we’re not. Wins and losses are the only thing that count.”
The eight game trip to Florida will provide the team an opportunity to improve upon its won-loss record, but the caliber of play down South will be among the best the Red will face all year. With wins and losses being a difficult gauge of the overall success of the team’s spring break trip, the Red will attempt to eliminate early season mistakes and improve in all areas.
Head coach Tom Ford stated, “We don’t go out there every single day thinking we have to win. We want to win, but more importantly, it is about going out there and playing our game: smart, consistent baseball.”
In order to steal victories down South, Cornell will have to depend on the continued contributions of Rico, senior tri-captain and second baseman Vince Santo, as well as sophomore shortstop/pitcher Dan Baysinger. All three sport batting averages above .300. On the mound, senior ace right-hander Brendan McQuaid welcomes the opportunity to face tougher line-ups, but admits that the competition in Florida can sometimes be a bit frustrating, relating a past experience.
“Two years ago when we went down to Florida I pitched against UCF [University of Central Florida]. It seemed like every single pitch I threw they hit. It was like, ‘Get me back to the Ivies!,'” he recalled.
Cornell will have to wait until Apr. 6 to square off against its first conference foe, but for now the team welcomes the opportunity to travel to a warmer clime and compete against top-notch competition. Though it would like to win several games, the Red wants to gain experience and confidence against high level non-conference opponents, honing its skills in time to make a serious run at the Ivy League crown and a berth in the NCAA field of 64.
Archived article by Mark Fetzko