April 19, 2002

Baseball Clashes at Penn

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Cornell’s baseball team travels to Philadelphia this weekend hoping to snap a five-game losing streak and get its Ivy League campaign back on track. Since a 5-1 victory over Yale last Saturday, the Red (10-19, 2-6 Ivy) has dropped five in a row to slump to the bottom of the Ivy League’s Lou Gehrig Division.

After losing six of eight encounters against teams from the Red Rolfe Division, Cornell will have a chance to make up some ground on division leader Columbia when it faces Penn (10-21, 4-8 Ivy) in a pair of doubleheaders. The Quakers served notice of their Ivy League credentials by sweeping aside Harvard in a two-game series last weekend. With Penn holding its Hall of Fame induction ceremony tomorrow, the Red will look to crash the party and condemn the Quakers to the bottom of the division.

On Wednesday, the Red extended its current slide to a season-high five games after dropping a pair to in-state rivals LeMoyne. Cornell’s pitching staff had struggled of late, and it fared little better against the Dolphins, allowing 21 runs in the two contests. In the last five games, the Red has been outscored by a combined total of 58-24. Fielding will also be a concern for head coach Tom Ford after the Red committed nine errors in two games against LeMoyne to take their season tally to 63.

Last season, Cornell grabbed the first two games of a four-game series against Penn before being swept aside in the second set of games. The Quakers finished third in the division last year with a 8-12 mark, one game ahead of Cornell. Despite the loss of the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year in Chris May, Penn has managed to find some offense in the bats of infielders Andrew McCreery and Nick Italiano. The versatile McCreery, recently named the league’s Player of the Week, is batting .385 from the cleanup spot while leading the rotation with a 3.80 ERA. Italiano has provided most of the power, with 6 HRs under his belt already in 2002.

The Red has had few problems putting runs on the board this year, with senior Erik Rico the chief contributor. The outfielder/pitcher leads the team in batting (.373), home runs (6), and RBI (27), and is also a member of the starting rotation. The potent offense is well supported by Rico’s classmates Andrew Luria and Flint Foley. Together, the trio has combined for 14 home runs, giving the Red an explosive middle of the lineup to rival any in the league. No doubt the Red’s batters will relish their chances against a Penn starting rotation that is 5-19 on the year.

Penn holds the advantage in the all-time series between the two sides 124-87-2.

Archived article by Soo Kim