April 29, 2002

Baseball Snaps Losing Skid With 2-2 Split

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Going into this past weekend’s four-game series against Gehrig Division foe Columbia, the Red had lost 11 consecutive games. Not only did the losing streak drop the team’s record to an unsightly 10-25, but it also mathematically eliminated the Red from Ivy League championship contention. Relegated to a spoiler role, the Red was able to split the weekend series against the second place Lions, who entered the series at 7-5 in Ivy League play, 18-19 overall. On Saturday, Cornell dropped the opener 6-0 before rebounding in game two for a 9-6 victory. Yesterday’s games produced another split, with Cornell once again dropping the opener, losing 4-2. In the nightcap, the Red ensured a series split with a late-inning comeback, defeating the Lions 7-6.

In Saturday’s opener, the Red’s attempt to end its 11-game losing streak was derailed early. Columbia’s potent offense opened the scoring in the third inning on a two run home run by slugger Matt Buckmiller. The Red’s usually consistent No. 1 starter, senior Brendan McQuaid, surrendered three more runs in the fourth before being relieved by freshman Connor Kelly. Taking the loss, McQuaid dropped to 3-4, giving up five runs and six hits in three plus innings. Kelly contributed a strong performance out of the bullpen, limiting the Lions’ to one unearned run on one hit in four innings.

While the Red received a poor pitching performance from McQuaid, Columbia’s Matt Waldman scattered four hits in a masterful complete game shutout. Only sophomore Dan Baysinger and seniors Erik Rico, Flint Foley, and Andrew Luria were able to collect harmless singles against Waldman, who improved his record to 3-2.

Having lost 12 in a row, the Red came out in the Saturday’s nightcap hoping to avoid unlucky loss No. 13. Behind 5 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball by sophomore pitcher Chris Schutt and a strong performance by its bullpen, the Red defeated Columbia 9-6, winning its first game since April 13. The Red’s offense also exploded, outhitting the Lions 14-3.

Scoring twice in the first, third, and fifth innings, Cornell claimed a 6-0 lead. However, a four-run sixth by the Lions knocked Schutt out of the game, closing the Red’s lead to 6-4. The Red countered with two runs in the sixth and another run in the seventh, protecting a 9-4 lead going into the ninth inning. Junior closer David Sharfstein struggled in the ninth, giving up two runs, but pitched himself out of a jam, guaranteeing the Red its first victory since an April 13th win against Yale.

The Red’s offensive outburst was keyed by Rico, who continued his season-long hitting prowess. Going 3-4 with two home runs, a triple, four runs scored and five RBIs, Rico’s first inning RBI triple opened the scoring in game two. The outfielder scored to make it 2-0 when Luria singled. Complementing Rico’s big game were senior Vince Santo, junior Matt Miller, and Luria, who contributed two hits apiece.

Head coach Tom Ford commented on Rico’s offensive production, saying, “Erik had a great weekend, and they kept trying to pitch around him. He just stayed patient, made great adjustments, and came through with big hits.”

Columbia starter Adam Schwartz absorbed the loss, giving up five runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. His Cornell counterpart, Schutt, baffled Lion batsmen over 5 1/3 innings of no-hit ball before succumbing to a streak of wildness in the sixth that contributed to the Lion’s closing the score to 6-4. Schutt picked up the win, his first on the year. Freshman Matthew Light, junior Mike Martino, and Sharfstein closed out the win, combining for 3 2/3 innings of two run relief.

“Schutt was totally dominant, but he didn’t have the command we needed,” Ford said of the Red’s pitching performance in the second game. “We hated to take him out like that when he was working on a no-hitter, but we were more concerned with winning the game than the no-hitter. So, we brought in a couple guys to close out the game, and they did a nice job getting us the win.”

Yesterday’s doubleheader saw Cornell pick up its second victory in as many days. The Red’s Dan Baysinger was on the wrong side of a 4-2 pitchers’ duel in the opener, but the team rebounded in the second game, winning 7-6.

In the opener, Columbia raced to a 3-1 lead after two innings, adding a run in the fourth to make it 4-1. In the sixth, the Red rallied, making it 4-2 when Schutt scored on an error with two outs. However, the Red was unable to overcome the deficit, leaving two men on base. Cornell’s only other run came in the second, when Miller drilled an RBI triple to deep right field, scoring Schutt. Miller was one of three batters for the Red who had multiple hit games, joining Rico and Schutt. Schutt also scored two runs.

On the mound, Baysinger pitched well, scattering 11 hits over seven innings. Dropping to 1-4 with the complete game loss, the sophomore surrendered four runs, only three of which were earned. Unfortunately, Baysinger was outdueled by Columbia’s Brian McKitish, who also registered a complete game, giving up two runs while scattering eight hits. With the win, McKitish improved to 5-3.

Ford summed up Baysinger’s tough luck loss, saying, “Dan pitched a really good ball game, but just got some bad luck. They got some hits on him, but mostly bloopers. Overall, he pitched well enough to win, but sometimes it doesn’t happen.”

In game two, late inning heroics lifted the Red to a 7-6 victory. The Red scored early to take a 4-0 lead after two innings, but Columbia battled back, reducing Cornell’s lead to 4-3 after seven innings. Rico faltered in the eighth inning, and was relieved by Sharfstein. The reliever promptly delivered a wild pitch, advancing two Columbia runners into scoring position. A two run single by Keith Palmeri followed, giving the Lions’ their first lead of the game. A passed ball allowed Columbia to score another run, extending its lead to 6-4.

Down by two, the Red’s shortstop, Jim Jackson, delivered a lead off single to begin the bottom of the inning. Foley’s RBI double followed a walk by Rico, making it 6-5. A wild pitch allowed Rico to score from third, knotting the game at six. Foley scored the go-ahead run on yet another wild pitch, putting the Red on top, 7-6.

Before the Red could enjoy its second victory in as many days, Sharfstein needed to work himself out of a ninth inning jam. The closer hit a batter, and allowed a single to put runners on first and second. Another single by Columbia’s Steve Compton threatened to score Mark DiGesu from second base, but a strong throw from outfielder Jon Finch nailed the Lion baserunner before he could score the tying run.

Ford recounted the play, saying, “It was a well-hit ball, and Jon came up throwing. He put it right on the money, and Paul Hudson hung onto the ball to make the tag. It was a great throw. Jon is a good athlete, and has a good arm, and really made a nice play.”

After the play at the plate, Sharfstein proceeded to end Columbia’s threat by striking out Scott Palmeri, garnering the Red a weekend split. Sharfstein’s two innings of relief garnered him his third victory of the year after seven plus innings from starter Erik Rico, who gave up five runs.

Offensively, Cornell had seven hits off of Columbia’s starter Brian Doveala, Brendan Quinn, and losing pitcher Jessen Grant. Santo, sophomore infielder Dan Parant, and Foley each contributed multi-hit games, with Foley adding 2 RBI.

With the weekend split, the Red improved to 12-27 overall, 4-12 in Ivy League action. Columbia’s Gehrig Division championship hopes remain alive, with the Lions situated two games behind division leading Princeton. The Red will return to action this Wednesday when it hosts non-conference foe Siena at Hoy Field before finishing its 2002 season against Pri

Archived article by Mark Fetzko