Although still practicing in the friendly confines of the Ramin Room inside Bartels Hall, the baseball team (1-3) will get its second taste of outdoor action today as it travels to Plymouth, Pa., to take on Villanova (6-5), in the first of its three games at the Villanova Baseball Classic.
Cornell will send senior co-captain Rocky Collis to the mound in today’s contest against the Wildcats. Junior Jim Hyland will start tomorrow’s game against La Salle (1-9), and sophomore Bryce Klinesteker will close out the road trip starting the Red’s second game against Villanova on Sunday.
With a 1-3 start to its season last weekend at Bucknell, the Red will look to use this weekend’s games to polish some of its rough edges.
“We want to make sure we have a little more consistent approach overall, whether it be at the plate or in the field,” said head coach Tom Ford. “We saw some good things last weekend. Unfortunately, we came up three games short … We had a couple of letdowns here and there but that stuff can happen the last weekend of the season as well as first weekend of the season.”
The most consistent player at the plate for the Red so far has been senior co-captain Seth Gordon. Batting at the top of the order, Gordon has already collected seven hits in his first 14 at bats. Freshman Brant Mckown has also swung the bat well for Cornell with five hits and three RBIs against Bucknell.
Defensively, Cornell has allowed its opposition to get on the scoreboard early in its first four games. Bucknell scored 20 of their 26 runs against the Red in the first four innings of last weekend’s games.
Both Collis (1-0) and Klinesteker (0-1) boast an ERA of 5.40, as each allowed three runs in five innings of work in their last outings. Hyland was touched up for eight runs in four innings of work against Bucknell last Sunday.
The Red faces two teams this weekend with very dissimilar starts to the 2006 season. Villanova is coming off its spring break trip to Florida, where it went 4-1. Meanwhile, La Salle only picked up its first win of the young season last Monday, and has so far been outscored by its opponents 111-to-33 in 10 games this season.
Cornell has faced the Wildcats only seven times before this weekend, tallying an overall record of 1-6 against Villanova.
“[Villanova’s] always very well-coached. They’re an aggressive team, they run a lot,” Ford said. “We’re going to have to do a pretty good job controlling the running game against them. They’re always solid.”
The Wildcats have already stolen 17 bases this season, while the Red, in just four games, has managed to break the eighth commandment five times on the base paths.
Pacing Villanova at the plate this season has been second basemen Derek Shunk and right fielder James Dolbier. Shunk leads the Wildcats with a .341 batting average, while Dolbier is close behind with a .306 average, knocking in a team-leading 10 RBIs this season.
Although 0-2, the Wildcats’ No. 2 pitcher, Mike Lowe, leads the team in ERA, having given up only six runs in 20 innings of work.
While the Red has a fair idea about what it’s up against today and Sunday, tomorrow’s tilt with La Salle is a little more of a mystery to the Red. The two teams have played each other only once before, with that being on March 5, 2004. La Salle took the game, 8-7.
“I don’t know a heck of a lot about them,” Ford said in an interview this past Wednesday. “We’ll know more about these teams and players hopefully in the next few days.”
Richard Prall leads the Explorers’ batters at the plate, hitting .330 with three doubles and three RBIs. Dan Waters (0-2) is La Salle’s probable starter for tomorrow’s game. He leads the starting rotation in ERA (5.40), strikeouts (12), and innings (17.0).
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Assistant Sports Editor