Central New York bragging rights are on the line today as the baseball team will look to snap a three-game losing streak when it heads to down to Binghamton today for a doubleheader.
Coming off its Ivy opening series against Harvard and Dartmouth in which the Red (5-12, 1-3 Ivy) was outscored 43-17, Cornell will look for a more aggressive approach at the plate from its batters and a more confident to outing from its pitchers to end the slide.
The early innings will be key if the Red hopes to knock off the Bearcats (9-8-1), as Cornell has given up runs in the first inning of seven of its 12 losses this season.
“We’ve got to shut some teams down here and give ourselves a chance to win,” said head coach Tom Ford. “We’d like to be in the game early … to be more aggressive and to maximize our opportunities.”
Junior Tom Laughlin will start Game 1 for the Red, and sophomore Walker Toma will take the mound in Game 2. The Bearcats pitching staff is headlined by Zach Groh, who boasts a miniscule 0.82 ERA and 24 Ks in 22 innings of work this season.
Both Laughlin and Toma were roughed up in their previous outings against Harvard and Dartmouth, respectively. Laughlin gave up six runs, three earned and walked five, in only one inning pitched against the Crimson in Game 1 last Sunday. Toma fared little better the day before, giving up 10 runs and eight hits in two innings, as the Red sank to a 16-6 defeat against Dartmouth.
Ford, however, isn’t worried about his pitchers, and views last week’s performance as an exception to the generally strong outings both pitchers have had this year.
“Tom and Walker, they’ve both thrown very consistently until this last outing. They’re going to be fine,” Ford said. “We’re just trying to stress with out pitchers to go to our strengths and to not worry so much about the opponent.”
Cornell’s pitchers will face a balanced Bearcats lineup that has seven starters hitting above .300. Right fielder Jeff Monaco and first baseman Brendon Hitchcock make up the heart of Binghamton batting order, with Monaco leading the team in batting average (.417) and RBIs (13).
“I think they’re a pretty balanced club,” Ford said. “Obviously their bigger guns you’re looking to shut down a little bit and contain, but for the most part we’re focused on ourselves.”
Cornell will look to senior co-captain Seth Gordon and sophomore Brian Kaufman to continue to set the table at the top of the order. The No. 1 and 2 hitters, respectively, have combined for 28 of the team’s 87 runs this season. Kaufman leads the team in walks, with 16, and stole bases, with six swiped bags.
As a team, the Red is batting a sub-par .251, well below the Bearcats’ .321 batting average. But Ford feels the teams hitting will eventually fall into place.
“You’ve got to keep putting the ball in play consistently and some of those are going to drop,” Ford said. “We’ve just got to make sure we keep banging it and make hard contact and be aggressive.”
Cornell split last year’s meeting with Binghamton by taking the first game, 3-2, but dropping the nightcap 11-2. The Red leads the all-time series 19-9.
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Assistant Sports Editor