Like a chemistry experiment gone awry, the baseball team exploded in an exothermic reaction of runs, hits and RBIs this past weekend, as it took three-of-four games from Penn at Meiklejohn Stadium in Philadelphia.
After entering the weekend with the Ivy League’s lowest batting average (.236), the Red busted out the bats in what was an offensive assault, outscoring the Quakers, 56-25, on the weekend. The three victories were enough to vault the team into second place in the Gehrig Division, only one game back of leader Princeton, which swept Columbia in this past weekend’s action.
Day 1 of the four-game series saw the Red collect 37 hits en route to scoring 33 runs in the 14 innings of play. Senior Rocky Collis pitched a two-hit complete game in the Red’s (8-20, 4-8 Ivy) 10-1 opener. Cornell then rattled off 26 hits in Game 2, defeating Penn, 23-10. The Red split Day 2, dropping Game 3, 11-6, but then came back to trounce the Quakers (10-25, 5-11) one last time in Game 4, winning 17-3.
“The guys did a nice job,” said head coach Tom Ford. “We didn’t expect to see us hit as well as we did, but you have to give the guys some credit. They just went out and let the hands fly, and scored some runs.”
The story of the weekend was sophomore Brian Kaufman, who collected 18 RBIs, scored 12 runs, batted .600 and hit three doubles, five triples and three run home runs on the weekend.
“You don’t see too many of those kind of performances,” Ford said. “It was just amazing. Us coaches acknowledged after the second LeMoyne game that we thought he was just getting his bat speed to where it is supposed to be at, and sure enough, he just continued that through this past weekend.”
Game 1 on Saturday saw Collis earn the victory, improving his overall record to 3-1 on the season behind eight strikeouts. Senior Seth Gordon paced the offense right from the start of contest, walking in the Red’s first at-bat and then eventually scoring on Kaufman’s first of three triples on the day. Freshman Brant McKown then flied to left to score Kaufman, extending the Red’s early lead to 2-0.
Penn answered with a run in the third inning, but Collis ended all hopes for the Quakers as he went on to strike out at least one batter in every inning. Cornell went on to score four runs in the fourth, one coming off a leadoff solo shot from McKown, his second home run of the season. Gordon, who is a notorious slow starter, broke out of a deep slump, going 3-for-3 in Game 1 while Kaufman went 3-for-4 with two triples.
Sophomore Bryce Klinesteker took the ball for the Red in Game 2, which turned out to be an offensive slugfest. Cornell scored three runs in each of the first three innings while Penn scored six runs in the third to cut the Red lead to 9-8. With 17 runs scored in three innings of play, junior Blake Hamilton emerged from the bullpen to halt the Quaker offense while the Red kept the barrage coming.
Hamilton allowed six hits over the final 6 1/3 innings en route to earning the victory. The Red would go on to add four runs in the fourth, three in seventh, and four in the eighth, adding an exclamation point to the term insurance run.
Freshman Ryan Michael belted his first career home run, a solo shot in the ninth inning. Senior catcher William Pauly went 4-for-6 in the game, while freshman Nathan Ford went 3-for-4. Freshman Dominic DiRicco tied a school record with five hits while Gordon and Kaufman combined to go 7-for-11 with 11 runs scored in Game 2.
Kaufman put the Red on the scoreboard first in Game 1 of Easter Sunday’s double-header, hitting a solo shot in the top of the first. The Quakers added four runs in the second to take the lead before the Red eventually tied it up, only to see Penn score a big inning as the Red surrendered five runs in the bottom of the fourth. Penn’s Sean Abate received the win while junior Tom Laughlin was credited with the loss.
With Game 4 of the weekend proving to be the determining affair between a split and a series victory, junior Jim Hyland took the ball for the Red and gave the Quakers all they could handle. After jumping out to an early 5-2 lead, it was Kaufman’s grand slam in a seven-run top of the fifth that put the game out of reach for the Quakers. Despite seeing the Quakers commit six errors, the Red belted 19 hits in the contest. Senior Michael Weiss went 4-for-6 with three RBI while Kaufman was a single short of the cycle. Hyland allowed nine hits and just one earned run in six innings of work to earn the win. Hyland is now 2-2 on the year.
“That’s what we had to have,” Ford said of Hyland’s performance. “After the previous loss, we needed to go out and set a tone. Jim let them get to him early, but then he settled down and kept us there before we got some runs.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls Sun Assistant Sports Editor