April 23, 2004

Red Hosts Lions in Gehrig Division Game

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Aiming to duplicate last weekend’s series victory at Penn, the baseball team (9-23, 4-8 Ivy) will host Columbia (10-22, 6-10 Ivy) this weekend for a pair of doubleheaders on Hoy Field.

Cornell enters weekend playing some of its best baseball of the season. After splitting Wednesday’s doubleheader at home against LeMoyne, the Red has now won five of its last seven games, including a three-game winning streak in Ivy League play.

Pitching has been the key to this recent hot streak, as the Red’s staff has turned around its lackluster early-season performance in recent games. After the Red began the season with a 8.00 team ERA, opponents have been able to only manage 2.86 runs per game against Cornell in its last seven contests.

“It’s what we have expected from them,” said head coach Tom Ford. “They’ve been staying aggressive and getting ahead in the count.”

The recent LeMoyne doubleheader continued this trend as the Red’s hurlers held the Dolphins to just six runs in the two games.

Freshman Blake Hamilton (1-2), in his first collegiate start, was given the nod in the first game and did not disappoint, getting the win after giving up just three hits and two runs in his four innings of work. Meanwhile, in the second game, Hamilton’s classmate Trevor Vieweg (1-1) started the game a little rocky, allowing four runs in 2 2/3 innings, but the bullpen came on strong to keep the Red close.

Seniors Dan Baysinger, Luke Staskal, Dan Gala and sophomore Rocky Collis will try to continue Cornell’s pitching dominance, as they get the starting nods against Columbia this weekend. Collis will be making his first appearance since pulling his groin earlier in the season.

While Cornell’s pitching issues have become less and less prevalent, question marks about its offense still remain.

At times, producing runs has not been a problem for the Red’s lineup — last weekend the Cornell batsman scored 15 runs in back-to-back games against the Quakers, while the week before that, they crossed the plate 17 times during a doubleheader at Brown. However, consistency still remains a looming issue, as seen in the team’s inability to score more than four runs in the two games against LeMoyne.

The Red will have a perfect opportunity to put all those hitting woes behind it, as it goes up against a Lions’ pitching staff that has been struggling as of late.

With combined season ERA of 7.29, the Colombia pitchers have been even less effective in the team’s most recent games. Over their last seven games, opponents have averaged 10.6 runs per game against the Lions, including one doubleheader in which Columbia gave up 33 runs to Princeton.

Though their pitching has had difficulties throughout the season, offensively, Columbia has been moderately successful. Led by upperclassmen Fernando Perez and Steve Compton, the team’s leaders in average, RBI and total bases, the Lions’ have managed to plate about 5.2 runs per game.

“I know its an old clich