April 20, 2005

Baseball Faces Bears

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Like Allied and Axis tanks clashing in the scarred North African deserts, the baseball team and Brown will meet tomorrow at Hoy Field in critical battle between Ivy juggernauts. The Red, victorious in four of its last five games, will attempt to augment the momentum of its recent success with a sweep in today’s two-game series — the only meeting of the year between the two schools. The Bears take a five-game winning streak into the doubleheader and hope to make Cornell the latest in its string of victims.

“Our guys know [Brown] is a good baseball team,” said Cornell head coach Tom Ford. “We just want to play our game. We’re on a bit of a roll and we want to keep that momentum going and build on it.”

Cornell (10-15, 4-6 Ivy) currently sits in a tie for second place with Penn (11-20, 7-9 Ivy) in the Gehrig Division standings, two games behind Princeton (13-17, 7-5 Ivy). Brown (16-14, 8-2 Ivy) is one of only three Ivy teams boasting an overall winning record — each of which play in the Red Rolfe Division. The Bears trail Harvard (17-10, 10-2 Ivy) by one game in the division.

A number of clutch performances on both offense and defense are responsible for the Red’s recent resurgence into the division title hunt. The squad has averaged six runs scored and only 4.6 allowed per game in its last five outings, including a 10 run outburst at Columbia on Sunday. Rookie phenom Brian Kaufman has swung the Red’s hottest bat, racking up four RBIs and four runs scored on 8-for-16 hitting during Cornell’s four-game series with the Lions. Kaufman was named the co-Ivy League rookie of the week yesterday for his prolific weekend. Team batting leader Matt Miller continues to set pace at the plate, having accumulated a .349 average with two home runs and a team-leading 12 RBIs thus far in the season.

“Offensively, we want to put pressure on [Brown’s] defense and get our bats going,” Ford said.

On the mound, the Red’s hurlers are beginning to establish the needed consistency for a run at the Gehrig division title. Although the team ERA for the season is 5.34, five members of the staff boast ERA’s well below 4.00. Sophomore right-hander Adam Loeding, who has pitched 8.1 innings in six appearances this year, leads the team with a 1.08 ERA out of the bullpen. Senior starter Dan Gala (2-2) is tied for the staff lead in wins and has recorded 20 strikeouts and a 3.38 ERA in 32 innings thus far in the season.

For today, Ford expects pitchers Rocky Collis (1-2) and Walker Toma (0-1) to start games one and two, respectively.

In the opposite dugout, Cornell will face a stiff challenge from Brown’s exceptional offensive firepower. The Bears currently lead the Ivy League in runs scored (201), RBIs (181), total bases (460) and on-base percentage (.380). Senior outfielder Matt Kutler has habitually chased opposing pitchers, having bombed six home runs with 27 RBIs on .408 hitting for the season. Sophomore Eric Larson adds to the Bears’ punch with 28 RBIs and five homers.

“[Brown] is a very good hitting team,” Ford said. “They hit for both power and average. They are very balanced and pretty aggressive at the plate.”

The Red also faces the daunting task of containing uber-utility player Bryan Tews, a sophomore with dominant tendencies both at the plate and on the mound. This week’s Ivy League player of the week, Tews batted .571 with eight RBIs and tossed a two-hitter during the Bears’ four-game sweep of Dartmouth. After allowing just one run during Brown’s 4-1 victory last Saturday, the Park Ridge, Ill., native went 4-for-5 with a grand slam at the plate against the Green on Sunday.

The starting time for the first game of the doubleheader today is set for 12 p.m.

Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Senior Editor