April 21, 2004

Baseball Takes on LeMoyne Today

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Having equaled its longest winning streak of the season after three consecutive wins over Penn, the baseball team (8-22, 4-8 Ivy) will try to make it four in a row against LeMoyne College this afternoon in Ithaca.

The Red’s recent success has been fueled mainly by several key performances by the team’s pitching staff. Entering the series against the Quakers this past weekend with a combined 7.93 ERA, the Cornell pitchers held Penn to only 9 runs total over the four game series.

Seniors Luke Staskal (1-3) and Dan Baysinger (0-3) set a strong tone for the whole weekend — pitching the first pair of games in the Saturday doubleheader. Each pitcher went the distance, pitching nine innings and giving up only two runs to the Quakers.

However, the most dominant performance belonged to senior Dan Gala (2-4), relenting only one run while scattering ten hits in his complete game victory Sunday. Meanwhile, junior Tad Bardenwerper also threw a very respectable game, tossing five innings and holding Penn to four runs in a winning effort.

Even with all the success on the mound, after losing the first game, it appeared that all of the strong pitching might go for naught. Once again, Cornell was unable to combine strong pitching with solid hitting, wasting Baysinger’s gem in the first game of the weekend, a 3-2 extra innings loss.

Yet, the Cornell offense quickly reversed that trend, following that performance with an offensive explosion for nine runs in the following game. Furthermore, in each successive game the Red’s hitters notched at least five runs for the rest of the weekend. In the early game on Sunday, the batters even bailed out the pitching staff, scoring 5 runs over the last two innings to complete the come-from-behind, 6-4 victory.

Commenting on the team’s turnaround after the first came, head coach Tom Ford said, “We got off to a rough start last weekend. We just were able to bounce back and kept working hard.”

Pitcher Trevor Vieweg shared similar sentiments with the coach, while also offering a positive outlook on the rest of the season.

“We’re playing baseball like we should,” the freshman said. “I expect us to continue it for the rest of the year.”

Continuing this combination of strong pitching and timely hitting will not be easy against a strong LeMoyne squad. The Dolphins (18-12, 12-0 MAAC) have used its potent offense to ride its way to the top of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Boasting a line-up that features seven starters batting over .300, LeMoyne has averaged a healthy 6.5 runs per game throughout the season. At the top of the Dolphin’s offense is senior Jeff Justice whose .391 average, 7 home runs and 27 RBI has him in the top five of all those categories in the MAAC.

Recently, the LeMoyne offense has become even more volatile than usual, having averaged almost eight runs a game during a stretch in which the team won fourteen of fifteen contests. However, as that lone loss came at the hands of the Red in a 7-4 contest less than a week ago, the Dolphins should enter action today with aspirations for revenge.

In that game, Cornell used Vieweg’s five strong innings of work in his first collegiate start to jump out to a quick lead before relievers came on to shut down the Dolphins for the rest of the game. The Red’s hitters also were strong, collecting 10 hits and seven runs while being the beneficiaries of six LeMoyne errors.

Ford will again go with freshman starters against LeMoyne today, giving Vieweg (1-0) and his classmate Blake Hamilton (0-2) the starting nods for the doubleheader. In his four appearances this year, the righty has allowed sixteen hits and seven runs in his eight and two-thirds innings of work.

“Based on their record and facing them last week, they’re a tough team to play,” Vieweg said. “But, I’m looking forward to facing them again.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton will be making his first collegiate start, though he has logged plenty of innings in his eleven appearances as a reliever this year. Averaging almost a strikeout per inning, the southpaw has accumulated a 6.33 ERA .

Though Cornell cannot expect LeMoyne to make as many mistakes as it made in last week’s game, the Red should still be in good position to extend their winning streak if they can continue their momentum from the weekend. Ford attributes much of that success to the team’s return to its play earlier in the season when solid pitching and timely hitting got it off to a 3-2 start.

“We’re getting back to the way we played at the beginning of the season,” said Ford. “All we need to do is relax and play baseball.”

Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer