April 7, 2003

Baseball Opens Ivies With Weekend Splits

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Cornell’s baseball team commenced its Ivy League season this weekend at Hoy Field, braving near freezing conditions to split four games with Yale (9-13, 1-3 Ivy) and Brown (7-17-1, 1-1). Late-inning rallies capped by senior Paul Hudson in the nightcap with the Elis and sophomore shortstop Matt Miller in the opener against the Bears lifted the Red (8-9, 2-2) to 5-4 and 7-6 victories, offsetting 4-3 and 3-2 losses.

While Hudson’s offensive heroics ensured victory in the second game against Yale, the Red’s bats were silent in the opener, as Josh Sowers and Alex Smith combined on a four-hitter. Sowers improved to 4-1 with the win, giving up three runs on four hits over 5 2/3 innings, while Smith collected his third save in relief.

The Red did have early success against Sowers, jumping out to a 2-1 lead after three innings. However, senior right-hander Dave Sharfstein yielded two runs in the fourth to surrender the lead for good. Yale’s Dave Fortenbaugh provided an insurance run in the fifth, driving in Chris Elkins with a double to extend the Bulldogs lead to 4-2 before Cornell countered with a run in the sixth. Fortenbaugh finished the game 3-for-3, driving in two runs. Four players contributed hits for the Red, with juniors Dave Bredhoff and Chris Schutt slamming a pair of RBI doubles.

Despite the persistent offensive struggles against Yale in the opener, Sharfstein continued a streak of solid pitching performances in spite of the loss. The senior went the distance for the second time this season, giving up nine hits in seven innings while striking out eight. He dropped to 0-3 with a 4.62 ERA.

Game two saw yet another strong outing by a Cornell starter, with starter Dan Gala pitching into the ninth. A junior, Gala struck out six in 8 1/3 innings, surrendering just three runs on six hits.

“He’s such a control pitcher, but his stuff is still good enough to keep hitters honest. He’s been throwing his curveball around the plate and spotting his fastball in the strike zone well all year,” commented head coach Tom Ford about the continued success of Gala.

Nonetheless, it looked like Gala was going to be saddled with his second loss of the season until Cornell rallied for single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to send the game into extra innings at three apiece. After Elkins scored on a misplayed ball in the outfield to put the Elis up 4-3 in the top of the 10th, it appeared likely that the Elis would leave town with the sweep. However, Hudson came through with a line shot with the bases loaded and two out, scoring Schutt and junior Dan Baysinger, giving the Red a split of the series. Hudson finished the game two for five with two RBI, also scoring the game-tying run on Dan Parant’s two out single in the ninth. Freshman Rocky Collis pitched the 10th inning for the win, improving to 2-1.

The opener against Brown witnessed even more late-inning theatrics, with the two teams heading into the sixth inning knotted at five. Baysinger gave up a based loaded walk, forcing in Brown’s Paul Christian with two out in the top of the inning, putting the Bears up 6-5 before sophomore Connor Kelly relieved Baysinger and got the final out. Brown’s bullpen could not protect the lead, though, as Cornell sophomore shortstop Matt Miller delivered a game-winning two run home run to center in the bottom of the inning, propelling the Red to its second straight come-from-behind victory. Miller finished the game 1-for-3 with three RBI.

“Matt came up big for us. We knew he was capable of coming through for us,” commented Ford. “It wasn’t looking good after the first two guys struck out for us, but Dan Parant walked and Matt got his pitch and drove it over the center field wall to get us the win.”

Miller was not the only Cornell player to come through in the clutch, however. Six other Cornell players joined Miller in the hit column including Schutt, who contributed a triple, and the team’s leading hitter, junior Ned VanAllan, who added a double.

“Our offense is still struggling, but I see some signs of improvement,” said an optimistic Ford. “It was tough coming out after a two-week layoff, but our guys are going to keep working to get better