In perhaps the most anticipated debut of the spring season, the sun made its inaugural appearance at Hoy Field yesterday, enabling the Cornell baseball team to host its first Ivy League double-header of the season. In the long-awaited home opener against the Yale Bulldogs, the Red fell flat in the first game, dropping an 11-2 decision, before rebounding with a thrilling 4-3 victory in the second contest.
“It was great to be in the home opener,” said sophomore pitcher Blake Hamilton. “With the nice weather and fan support, it was great to be on the field.”
With the split, Cornell (5-8, 1-1 Ivy) picked up a little momentum after losing its last four consecutive games over the spring break. Yale (10-10, 1-3 Ivy) now finds itself behind early in the league standings in light of its two close losses to Princeton on Monday.
Bulldogs pitcher Josh Sowers spoiled the Red’s homecoming in game one, dominating the Cornell lineup throughout his complete-game win. In seven innings of work, the senior right-hander allowed only two runs off six hits, striking out three batters in the process.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t play very good baseball in the first game,” said Cornell head coach Tom Ford. “Yale did a nice job swinging the bat and [Sowers] pitched well.”
After a scoreless duel with Red starter Tad Bardenwerper over the first three innings, Sowers and his squad put the pieces in motion for Yale’s first league victory. The Bulldogs ended the shutout in the fourth inning when a triple by Marc Sawyer scored Zac Bradley from first. Josh Zabar’s ensuing double scored Sawyer, and a subsequent double by Matt Stone sent Zabar home and gave Yale a three-run lead.
Cornell responded in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run by senior Matt Miller, but the squad was unable to mount much of an offensive threat for the remainder of the game. The Bulldogs buried the Red in an avalanche of offense in the fifth and six innings, scoring three runs and five runs, respectively. After allowing a two-RBI double to Yale’s Justin Ankney in the fourth, Bardenwerper was replaced by rookie pitcher Walker Toma. However, Toma fell victim to a string of errors by the Cornell defense in the sixth inning and gave up five additional runs to the Bulldogs — only one of which was earned.
Junior second baseman Seth Gordon knocked in the Red’s final run of the first game in the bottom of the seventh, but it was of little use in the face of the 10-run deficit.
However, the sun truly began to shine down on the Red in the second outing, an intense, 4-3 win requiring ten innings to decide. A pair of freshmen proved to be the critical factor in the extra inning, as rookie Brian Kaufman scored the winning run off a sharp, infield single by classmate Ry Kagan in the bottom of the 10th.
“In the second game, we had to grind it out, but finally we came through,” Ford said. “We hung in there — this is the type of game we have to win.”
Things looked grim for the Red after the Bulldogs jumped ahead to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Sawyer added another RBI to his statistics with a single to the right side and junior John Janco also pounded in a run, forcing Cornell to battle from behind once again.
In the second inning, the Red evened the score at two when catcher William Pauly’s single scored seniors Matt Miller and Conor Kelly. The following inning gave Cornell its first lead of the series as Kaufman smacked an RBI single to center, his fourth of the season. Overall, Kaufman went 4-for-7, boosting his batting average to .370 in 13 games this season.
However, the Red failed to preserve its lead late in the contest, allowing Yale junior Chris Esper to force extra innings with an RBI single to left field in the ninth inning. But Cornell pitcher Jim Hyland was able to shut down the Yale lineup in the 10th and record his first victory of the season.
“We made a few mistakes in game one that were hard to recover from because [the mistakes] seemed to compound themselves,” Hyland said. “In the second game, we made fewer mistakes. I was happy with the results. Overall, I’ll take it.”
The Red hopes to preserve the momentum from its dramatic victory heading into today’s non-conference match up against Binghamton at Hoy Field.
“The mark of Tom [Ford]’s teams are that they are just solid,” said Yale head coach John Stuper. “They swing the bat well, throw strikes — and that’s just what they did in the second game.”
Following today’s double-header, the Red returns to league play over the weekend at Harvard and Dartmouth.
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Senior Editor