April 12, 2002

Baseball Prepared for Second Ivy Weekend

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This weekend, the baseball team (9-14, 1-4 Ivy) will travel to Brown and Yale to play its second round of Ivy contests.

Cornell’s endurance was tested early this week as its Saturday doubleheader with Dartmouth was postponed until Monday for inclement weather. It was unsuccessful in a twinbill against Harvard, split the following day with the Green, and 24 hours later traveled to Binghamton and swept a pair of games 6-5 and 9-1.

Head coach Tom Ford did not think, however, that the string of games took a toll on the team.

“They are young guys and they know what they are doing,” he said. “Hopefully they are in good enough shape to be able to do that.”

What the team does hope to get out of its wins over the Bearcats is momentum going into tomorrow’s games.

“That kind of thing always gets you going a little bit,” senior centerfielder Andrew Luria commented.

“We hope we can grab some momentum from [those games]. We played some pretty good baseball and played well defensively,” Ford agreed. “So, hopefully we can build upon that, but each time you go out, you definitely have to do it again.”

The weekend’s first challenge will come against Yale (6-14, 1-3).

The Bulldogs are coming off a tough stretch. Last weekend, it lost two games to Columbia and split with Penn, then lost a single game to Iona College on Wednesday 8-2.

Despite the losing record, six of the Bulldogs’ defeats have come by only one run. Outfielder Chris Elkins is leading the team with a .372 average. He also has one home run on the year, a grand slam two weeks ago in the team’s 14-2 win over New Haven. Second baseman Stephen Duke has a .333 average and is the only other player on the team hitting above .300.

“They have been playing pretty good defense and are getting pretty good pitching and it seems like their bats are coming around a little bit lately too,” Ford said.

On Sunday, Cornell will then travel to Providence, R.I., to face Brown (11-13, 2-2).

Winners of five of its past seven games, the Bears split two doubleheaders with Penn (6-18, 2-6) and Columbia (13-12, 3-1) last weekend.

On Wednesday, Brown also split with the University of Rhode Island. In game one, John Cappello (1-1) threw a two-hit complete game shutout with two walks and six strikeouts for a 6-0 victory. The Bears dropped the nightcap 6-5 in extra innings.

Offensively, catcher Greg Metzger is leading the team with a .352 average. In last weekend’s league games, he was 9-for-13 with a home run, two doubles and six RBI. For his efforts, the catcher was named co-Ivy League player of the week.

In the team’s win against Rhode Island, Metzger was 2 for 4 with a double and two RBI and he enters the weekend riding an 11-game hitting streak.

The Red will likely also face pitcher Jonathon Stern (4-2). He was the victor in the team’s 2-1 win over Penn last weekend giving up the run on two hits with six strikeouts. He owns a 3.99 ERA with a team high 26 strikeouts. He was also named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week earlier this season.

“Brown is an all-around good baseball team with good pitching, they have some good hitters and they like to run, so it will be a good challenge,” Ford scouted. “We know they are a good team.”

For Cornell, senior Brendan McQuaid (2-2) will take the mound in the first game against Yale and freshman Conor Kelly (0-2) will pitch in the nightcap.

On Sunday, senior Erik Rico (1-3) will pitch in the first contest and sophomore Dan Baysinger (1-2) will wrap up the weekend’s play in the final game.

“It has been good at times, and sometimes we have faltered a bit, but for the most part, the starters have done a good job keeping us in the game,” Ford said of the starting pitchers’ effort thus far in the season.

“Two of our four starters are older guys (Rico and McQuaid) and have been starters for four years, so I think that helps a lot with their experience and leadership, and the younger guys have been following in their footsteps,” Luria explained. “The pitchers have pitched pretty well, but we beat ourselves when we don’t make good defensive plays and it costs us the game.”

The Red has struggled for consistent fielding this season, and will continue to work on that aspect of its game this weekend.

“Of course defense, that’s the thing that’s going to get us the wins and it’s what has killed us in the past,” Luria said of the team’s goals. “The offense has been there pretty much consistently through the season, so we can usually count on that. If everybody does his job, we will be successful.”

Contributing significantly to Cornell’s success from the batter’s box is Rico. Named both co-Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week and ECAC Player of the Week for his outstanding play against Penn and Dartmouth, the pitcher/right fielder dominated in all aspects of the game. Including the team’s earlier loss to Penn State and the two double headers last weekend, Rico went 10-for-17 with two doubles, two triples, a home run and six RBI. He was also the winning pitcher in the 3-2 victory over Dartmouth, throwing six innings and striking out nine.

“He is swinging the bat really well. It is nice to see because he works really hard at it,” Ford said.

The head coach and senior both took similar overall views of the weekend’s matchups, encompassing the team’s one-game-at-a-time mentality.

“It’s going to be like any other weekend. We just have to go out and play the way we know how to play,” Luria concluded.

“This league is pretty tough and everybody is evenly matched, so it’s just a matter of how you execute on game day,” Ford encapsulated. “It would be nice to get on a roll here.”

Archived article by Katherine Granish