April 28, 2003

Baseball Splits Four With Ivy Rival Penn

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After failing to preserve leads in 6-3 and 7-5 losses on Saturday against Penn (22-17, 12-8 in Ivy) at Hoy Field, Cornell’s baseball team (15-16, 8-8) responded with a sweep yesterday against the Quakers behind the pitching performances of freshman Rocky Collis and junior Chris Schutt in 2-1 and 12-2 victories. The result keeps the Red’s slim postseason chances alive after Lou Gehrig division leader Princeton (20-17, 11-3) split with Columbia yesterday.

“We played good baseball the past couple days. We played consistently in all four games, but we just didn’t come up with enough hits or key pitches on Saturday like we did on Sunday,” said head coach Tom Ford, assessing his squad’s play.

In the series opener, a RBI double by freshman second baseman Seth Gordon and a RBI single by junior designated hitter Ned VanAllan gave the Red a 2-0 lead in the third. The Quakers quickly rallied to take the lead with three runs in the fourth and fifth innings before the Red tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth when senior first baseman Jim Jackson’s RBI single scored junior right fielder Jon Finch.

However, the tie was shortlived when Penn sluggers Nick Italiano and Andrew McCreery hit back-to-back home runs, giving the Quakers a 6-3 victory in seven innings. McCreery finished the game 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored, leading the Quakers’ 11-hit attack. Gordon and Finch led the Red with two hits each, with both scoring a run. Gordon added an RBI, while one of Finch’s hits was a triple.

Right-handed starter Dan Baysinger absorbed the loss, falling to 4-2 on the season. The junior lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits.

In the nightcap, the Red scored single runs in each of the first three innings to jump out to a 3-0 lead, but saw another early lead evaporate. Junior pitcher Dan Gala limited the Quakers to just two runs in seven innings, but Cornell’s bullpen was not up to the task.

After falling behind 5-3 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Red’s bats awoke from a slumber when sophomore shortstop Matt Miller and Schutt came through with clutch RBIs to send the game into extra innings. Nonetheless, sophomore Tad Bardenwerper and junior Luke Staskal could not silence the Quakers’ bats in the 10th, giving up two runs. Though facing only two batters, Bardenwerper picked up the loss, falling to 0-1.

Yesterday, freshman Rocky Collis ensured that that the bullpen would be unnecessary, pitching a complete game gem in the opening 2-1 win. Collis notched his first complete game of the season, improving to 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA. The freshman allowed just one earned run on six hits and two walks, striking out seven Quakers.

“I’ve been feeling really good lately,” said Collis. “I have a lot of confidence going out there and the defense has been playing really well behind me. That made it really easy for me to just out there and pitch my game.”

Collis was not the only freshman to come through in the clutch for the Red, however. Heading into the bottom of the ninth knotted at 1-1, a trio of freshman engineered the winning run. Michael Weiss and Matt Goodson each came through with pinch-hit singles, while Gordon followed with a two-out RBI single to lift the Red to the victory. Gordon finished the game 2-for-4, adding the game-winning RBI.

“It felt great to get the game-winning hit. I wasn’t doing too well earlier in the season, but the more playing time I get, the better I’ve been able to play. But, it wasn’t only me today coming through,” commented Gordon.

In the final game of the four game series, Schutt was his usual dominant self on the mound, pitching eight strong innings, giving up only two unearned runs on five hits. He struck out 10 and walked four, improving to 3-4 on the season.

“I don’t go out there now and try to do anything different from early in the season,” said Schutt about his late season dominance. “I just go out there and trust my defense and try to hit my spots. Other than that, I can’t really explain my success.”

It was Schutt’s fifth consecutive start with double-digit strikeout totals, lifting his yearly total to 77 in just 55 2/3 innings. Opposing batters have hit just .190 against him as he has compiled a sterling ERA of 1.98, garnering the attention of professional scouts throughout the Northeast.

“There were quite a few scouts out there watching him today and he’s certainly deserving of it. He’s really become one of the best pitchers in our league and is just dominant at times. He’s got a lively fastball, and both his slider and curveball are plus pitches,” said Ford of his ace.

Schutt was the welcome recipient of unusual run support, as the Red matched its season high with 12 runs on 12 hits. Finch’s sixth inning grand slam broke open a close game, making it 6-0, and the Red added six more runs in the eighth to cap scoring.

Finch paced the team with four RBI, finishing 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Senior Mike Martino was 2-for-4 also, contributing a bases-clearing double in the eighth inning. Gordon continued his weekend tear, going 3-for-5 with one run and three RBI. Overall, Gordon went 7-for-18 on the weekend with five RBI and two runs scored.

The Red returns to play tomorrow against Siena for a doubleheader, before finishing its season against Princeton.

Archived article by Mark Fetzko