After bringing a 2-6 record back to Cornell after a spring break spent competing against some of the nation’s tougher competition in Bradenton, Fla., the baseball team will get a chance to start with a clean slate this weekend when it begins its Ivy League season against Brown and Yale at Hoy Field.
“We played some good teams [in Florida],” said head coach Tom Ford. “Early on in the trip we played really well. We lost two one-run games and we won a couple of close ones. The other three games we got back on our heels. We certainly are not happy with the results but I am very happy with our effort and focus.”
The Red (4-7) will need to put forth another strong effort this weekend in order to come away with a pair of wins. On Saturday, Cornell will host the Bears (4-9), who are coming off a 9-11 Ivy League season. However, Brown returns its outfield trio of Matt Kutler, Bobby Wiginton, and Paul Christian. Both Wiginton and Christian were first-team All-Ivy selections a year ago, combining for 14 home runs and 52 RBI. Kutler suffered a season-ending injury after an impressive 2003 campaign.
“Brown seems to have a little more power at the plate than Yale,” Ford said.
In fact, the Bears have compiled the second most homers in the league thus far this season, belting ten in the team’s first 11 games. The squad is also third in the league in batting average, hitting at a .272 clip over that same stretch.
As for the Bulldogs (3-7), they are fresh off an 11-9 league record and return their entire starting infield. The star of the club is pitcher Josh Sowers. Last season in his junior campaign, Sowers posted the third lowest ERA in the Ivy League at 3.39. He also was second in the conference with 54 strikeouts in 61 innings, while allowing only 59 hits. Behind Sowers, the Bulldogs have compiled a 4.43 ERA this season, good for second in the conference.
“Yale has a really strong No. 1 pitcher,” Ford said. “But, they also swing the bats really well and steal some bases.”
With spring making an appearance in Ithaca only recently, the Red still has some details to iron out — much of which will be centered in the batter’s box.
“The big thing is fine-tuning some things hitting wise,” Ford said. “Everyone is at different stages. Some of the guys have been swinging the bat pretty well and others have been struggling a little bit. We need to practice some different drills to get everyone going. Our big focus right now is being prepared for anything the other team throws at you, like bunt defenses and defending the running game.”
However, besides focusing on the team’s preparation, there has to be some concern with the condition of Hoy Field. The Red has been unable to practice its defense on the infield because it still remains wet from the winter months.
“The field is kind of soft right now,” Ford said. “Hopefully, it will dry up for this weekend. But, as a team we are ready to go. We learned a lot about ourselves in Florida and we are just anxious to get going.”
Archived article by ryan Pepper
Sun Assistant Sports Editor