The Ivy League bandwagon rolls into town for the first time in 2002, as the baseball team opens its league campaign with a pair of double headers this weekend. Tomorrow, Cornell (6-11) squares off against defending Red Rolfe division champions Dartmouth (8-8), before facing Harvard (3-11) Sunday.
The prospect of a new Ivy League season has sent ripples of excitement through the Red’s roster.
“We’ve been talking to each other a lot,” admitted senior outfielder Andrew Luria. “Everything up to this point has been preparation for what’s coming up.”
The Red will look to snap a two-game skid when they take the field against the Big Green. After dropping the second game of a double header against Ithaca College last weekend, the Red suffered a 9-6 setback away at Penn State on Tuesday. Despite a 3-3 hitting performance from senior standout Erik Rico, Cornell was once again undone by poor fielding. A total of six errors contributed to five unearned runs being scored. The poor defensive showing was bore in the win-loss column by freshman reliever Conor Kelly (0-1).
Despite losing the bulk of its offensive production to graduation, Dartmouth will provide the Red with a stern challenge to open the Ivy League season. The Green has won its division two years running, and has compiled an impressive 30-11 record in league play over this period. Cornell’s pitching staff will fancy its chances against a team that is batting only .272 with only five home runs in 16 games, but reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year Scott Shirrell is a danger batting third.
Harvard has struggled early on in 2002, losing ten of its first eleven games before posting two wins last week. The Crimson finished a single game behind the Green in the Red Rolfe division last season and will be determined to do one better this time around. Rico and his teammates will be especially wary of senior ace Ben Crockett, a pre-season third-team All-American who cemented his place in school history by pitching a no-hitter last season.
Despite going 1-3 against both the Green and the Crimson last season, Luria likes his team’s chances heading into the weekend.
“The Ivy League is a league that anyone can win in any year,” he said. “There’s no need to go in there scared or over-confident.”
If recent form is anything to go by, the Red won’t have to worry about putting runs on the board. In seniors Luria, Flint Foley, and Rico, Cornell has as good a middle of the lineup as any in the league. The trio has accounted for eight home runs this year, three more than the Dartmouth team total. In particular, Luria is enjoying a nine-game hitting streak, a stretch which has seen his batting average rise to .317. During that span he has hit safely in 14 of 36 trips to the plate.
“I wasn’t really happy with the way I was hitting before,” said Luria. “I’m the kind of player who makes a lot of adjustments. I changed my swing a lot since coming back from Florida and I’ve had some nice games since.”
Archived article by Soo Kim