With solid pitching and consistent defense, the 2003 Cornell baseball team appeared to only lack the run support to make a run at the Ivy League title. However, with the top six hitters from last year’s 16-20-1 squad returning, the 2004 Red (3-3) appears primed to make the jump to that next level.
Leading the strong contingent of veteran sluggers is senior co-captain Dan Parant, who led the team last season with a .283 batting average. A third baseman, Parant has emerged as the team’s early offensive leader through the first three games by batting .300, with two runs batted in and a .462 on-base percentage during the team’s season opening road trip to LaSalle and Villanova.
Parant — the team’s offensive catalyst — will bat mostly in the leadoff spot this season for the Red.
Senior Dan Finch, a .272 hitter last year, will share the captain duties with Parant. Starting the second game of the Sunday doubleheader at Villanova, the center fielder blasted a solo home run over the left field fence in the top of the ninth to give the Red a 3-2 victory.
Head coach Tom Ford has been very pleased by the roles Parant and Finch have adopted as the team’s captains.
“Our captains have done a tremendous job in leading this team so far,” he said. “We will continually look to those two for leadership.”
Another key returning veteran is senior outfielder Ned Van Allen. Van Allen, last year’s team-leader in doubles, home runs and RBIs, had a very productive road trip, batting 4-12 with two doubles and two RBIs. Ford acknowledged that the team will rely on Van Allen for offensive production, noting that he “is an offensive key for us.”
Sophomore Seth Gordon, a starter as a freshman last season, will play at second base. Scoring two runs and adding a couple of RBIs himself, Gordon — a .274 hitter last year — also was a main contributor in Philadelphia.
Rounding out the strong veteran infield will be shortstop Matt Miller and first baseman Michael Weiss. Miller, a junior, started all three games on the road trip, collecting two hits and two runs. The only Cornell player to start every game last year, Miller was among the team leaders in average, RBIs and stolen bases.
“Miller is very good at shortstop and we expect him to make an impact offensively as well,” Ford said.
Meanwhile, Weiss, relegated to limited duty last year as a freshman, proved his case as a starter with a strong showing in Philadelphia. Batting 3-for-5 and scoring two runs in his two starts, the sophomore currently leads the team in batting average.
Veteran Matt Goodson returns behind the plate for the Red. A .258 hitter last year, the sophomore had three hits and two RBIs while starting all three games in the road trip. Vanderbilt transfer William Pauly is also expected to share some of the catching duties.
In the outfield, senior David Bredhoff, freshman Kaleb Hutchinson and sophomore Josh Foster will vie for playing time with Van Allen and Finch. Bredhoff, a two-year starter in left field, looks to supply the team with some consistent power hitting throughout the season. In starting 36 games for the Red last year, he was among the team leaders in runs, extra-base hits and RBIs.
A converted catcher, Hutchinson started all three games for Cornell on the road trip, collecting his first collegiate hits and RBIs.
Hutchinson broke out this past weekend as he went 3-4 with three doubles and two runs scored against St. Joseph’s.
Hutchinson continued his hot hitting against Villanova, as he tallied another multi-hit game, going 2-4 with a run scored.
Foster, a transfer from Michigan, saw his first action with the Red last weekend and should help the team out with his speed and power.
Even without David Sharfstein ’04 and reigning Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Chris Schutt ’04, who is now part of the Minnesota Twins’ organization, Ford is still optimistic about his veteran pitching staff.
“Our pitching should be pretty strong again,”the coach said.
“We feel that any of [our] pitchers have the ability to shut down the opponent when they are throwing their games.”
Starters Rocky Collis and Dan Baysinger, who both had sub-4.00 ERAs last season, are the top returning pitchers. Collis, a sophomore, compiled a 3.26 ERA while earning three wins for last year’s squad. He also got the starting nod for the first game of last Sunday’s doubleheader, putting in four innings of work and giving up four runs on six hits in a losing effort.
Collis earned his first victory of the season in the first game of a doubleheader sweep of St. Joseph’s, going six solid innings, giving up five hits and striking out five batters.
Baysinger was tops among the Red hurlers last year with five wins — including two shutouts.
Baysinger, despite giving up two hits and two walks in his two innings of work, was able to hold Villanova scoreless.
Joining Collis and Baysinger in the rotation are seniors Dan Gala and Luke Staskal. A power pitcher, Gala had seven starts last year, finishing the season with a 5.91 ERA.
Gala earned his first victory of this season in the second game of a doubleheader against St. Joseph’s this past weekend, pitching five solid innings to improve his record to 1-1 on the season.
Meanwhile, Staskal will try to make the transition to the starting rotation from his relief role in which he had a 5.85 ERA and collected 20 strikeouts in 20 innings of duty. He was impressive in his first game as a starter last weekend, as the veteran went six innings while giving up no runs and only three hits in Cornell’s 3-2 win over Villanova.
Staskal made his second start this past weekend in the Red’s return visit to Philadelphia for a rematch with Villanova. The senior went 4 2/3 innings, giving up six hits and two earned runs, while striking out three Wildcat hitters.
The Red will also rely on several other pitchers to contribute throughout the season. These include freshman southpaw Blake Hamilton as well as juniors Conor Kelly, Matt Light, Tad Bardenwerper, and senior Sam Sinkavich.
Kelly pitched three solid innings in relief against Villanova, giving up three hits and an earned run in the extra-inning loss, while Bardenwerper earned his first save of the season in the second game against St. Joseph’s.
The Red will next see action in California as they face Cal Poly SLO and UC Santa Barbara in a stretch of seven games in seven days over spring break.
The Ivy League schedule will begin on April 4 as the Red square off against Harvard, while the Gehrig slate begins with a series at Penn.
on April 17-18.
Archived article by Scott Reich