March 29, 2002

Baseball to Face I.C. Ithaca

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Tomorrow, the baseball team will suit up for its first pair of games since its return from its annual Spring Break trip to Florida.

Splitting eight games down south last week, the Red (4-9, 0-0 Ivy) saw much improvement in its defense. Three of its contests were error-free, and in only one did it commit four, the highest amount of boots in a game during its season to date. In total, Cornell made 11 errors in seven of the eight games over the break, which is progress compared to the 14 it made in its first six games of the season.

“We made some improvements down south. We played pretty good defense and even though we came back 4-4, we played a pretty tough schedule,” head coach Tom Ford explained. “I really liked how the guys kept playing baseball all the way through.”

“We played some good games on our trip and competed very well,” added senior first baseman Flint Foley.

The Red will face Ithaca College (7-4) tomorrow afternoon in a doubleheader. In last year’s match-up, the Bombers squeaked out a 12-11 victory, while the 2000 season saw Cornell besting its neighbors by a score of 10-6.

“It doesn’t matter what happens year to year,” Ford said, dismissing any notion that the Red was thinking about the results of the two teams’ previous meetings.

Ithaca is riding a two-game winning streak in which it recorded an 11-0 win against Washington and a 7-3 victory over St. Mary’s. In the shutout, Ian Locke and Mike Urvalek combined for the victory. Locke pitched six innings and allowed only four hits, while Urvalek pitched three hitless innings. On the offensive end, Kyle Wilkins was 4-4 with a triple and two RBI and catcher Steve Nardozzi added two hits of his own.

“They are a Division III school, but they always play really well every year. You always know what you are going to get from them,” remarked Foley. “They are always going to throw some good quality arms at you and they are always going to do the little things to try and get things done. They are always very competitive.”

On its spring break trip, Ithaca posted a 5-4 record and enjoyed stellar performances from its top hitters. Wilkins played in eight of the nine games, batting .457 while Nardozzi started every contest and hit .389 with a team-high nine RBI and two home runs. On the mound, Locke and Kyle Sottung each went 1-1 while Sazi Guthrie had a team best 2.00 ERA and struck out 11 batters in three appearances.

“They are a very well coached team and they put some good arms out on the mound,” Ford acknowledged, “they do a lot of things to create some hit and run, so it’s going to be a good test for us.”

Taking the ball for the Red in the two games will be seniors Brendan McQuaid Erik Rico. In four starts, McQuaid has a 1-2 record and a 3.20 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting only .250 against the pitcher in 25.1 innings. One of McQuaid’s losses was a heartbreaker at Bucknell where the Red fell just short in a 3-1 loss. He was also on the short end of a 4-3 score against Ohio State.

Frequently, Cornell and Ithaca are referred to as “cross-town rivals,” however, Ford doesn’t believe that the team views these games as any more special than the rest of its schedule.

“I don’t really think we view it as a cross-town type thing,” he said. “We treat it like a regular Ivy weekend. We try to attack every game the same way and take a consistent approach to things,” Foley commented, preferring to compare tomorrow’s games to the importance of conference contests.

Both coach and player commented on things that they believe the team could work on.

“We want to keep improving our defense and are doing some different things with the outfielders to get them to go back on the ball a little better,” said Ford.

“You are always trying to improve on everything. We played some good games on our trip and competed very well,” Foley added.

Tomorrow’s first game will be at noon on Hoy Field, while the night cap will start at approximately 3:00 p.m.

Archived article by Katherine Granish