Winner of four of its eight games over spring break, the baseball team returns to the wintry conditions of Ithaca with considerable confidence heading into this weekend’s match-up against Ithaca College and April’s Ivy League season.
Although still under .500 at 5-9, the Red came away with quality wins over Chicago State, Rider, Drexel, and Northwestern during its trip south while dropping contests against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Florida Atlantic, Rider and Ohio State.
Senior tri-captain and outfielder/pitcher Erik Rico characterized the team’s performance saying, “We got some good wins. We played some good teams tough. We definitely played well and it will be a building block for the Ivy League [season].”
The Red got off to a hot start, scorching Chicago State 12-1 in its first game, led by senior second baseman and offensive spark plug Vince Santo’s 3-4 performance at the plate. In addition to his three base hits in the opener, Santo scored two runs and drove in another.
Speaking about his role as offensive catalyst, the second baseman commented, “I’m just looking to get on base any way I can as many times as I can. I get on base so guys like Erik, Andrew [Luria] and others down the order can drive me in.”
In addition to the standout performance of Santo, five other Red players contributed multiple hit games against Chicago State. Amongst those was Rico who also tallied a team-high three RBIs. However, pitching ace Brendan McQuaid’s eight scoreless innings made the team’s offensive outburst unnecessary, as he limited Chicago State to four base hits while striking out eight.
Cornell couldn’t match its first game success over the next two contests, as it dropped games against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Florida Atlantic. Wisconsin-Milwaukee withstood a ninth-inning rally by Cornell to win 9-8 and Florida Atlantic, in the midst of a 15 game win streak, bombarded the Red by a score of 18-7.
The Red rebounded in its fourth game, racing to a 7-0 lead against Rider. Behind eight strong innings by sophomore righthander Dan Baysinger, the Red evened its record at 2-2 over spring break. Senior first baseman Flint Foley ignited the offense with a double and a home run. Finishing the game 2-4, the senior slugger drove in five runs. Rico added two base hits, including a triple and an RBI.
The Red won its third game in Florida against Drexel, defeating them in a slugfest, 12-10. A six run sixth-inning sparked the Red to victory, led by Rico’s base-clearing double. In addition to Rico’s offensive heroics, Foley collected two hits and an RBI. Junior relief pitcher John Hardy picked up the victory against Drexel, while junior closer Dave Sharfstein protected the lead to pick up the save.
Despite losing two games to Rider and Ohio State to drop to 3-4 over spring break, the Red played well, narrowly losing to a potential top 25 team in the Buckeyes behind another strong pitching performance by McQuaid.
Looking to even its record in Florida and improve to 5-9 overall, the Red relied upon a last-inning comeback against Northwestern to lift the team to a 3-2 victory and a .500 record over spring break. Rico drove a pitch for a two run triple to tie the game in the final frame, and sophomore outfielder Dave Bredhoff hit a sacrifice fly to bring Rico home, clinching the win.
Bredhoff, a transfer from the University of Saint Louis, was ecstatic about the game-winning RBI saying, “I’m very happy with the opportunity to play and do the job. It’s a great credit to hit behind Erik and the Northwestern game was a big confidence booster for me. I was really proud to be in that situation and to come through. It was just awesome. A great feeling.”
On the heels of the emotional victory over Northwestern, the Red has returned to Ithaca riding a wave of optimism due to its southern successes.
Head coach Tom Ford summed up the team’s favorable Florida trip saying, “We would have liked to win more, but 4-4 is a pretty good trip. We played a tough schedule, but the guys did well competing down there. We kept focused, and didn’t have any collapses.”
In fact, the baseball team has shown steady improvement throughout the season, playing .500 baseball over its last ten games after early season miscues denied the Red a single victory in a four game series against Bucknell.
This weekend, the Red continues its climb toward the .500 level against South Hill rival, Ithaca College. The two squads will square off in a doubleheader this Saturday as the Red hosts its first games of the year.
Archived article by Mark Fetzko