April 21, 2006

Red to Play Four With Lions

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With only eight games left in the season, the baseball team (8-22, 4-8 Ivy) looks to keep its hopes of a Gehrig division title alive as it hosts division foe Columbia (8-28, 4-12) for a four-game set beginning with a doubleheader tomorrow.

The Red is just one game behind division leader Princeton (10-19, 5-7) and will likely need at least three wins from this weekend to keep its hopes of a division title and a shot at the Ivy crown alive.

“We’re feeling pretty good, we took three-of-four from Penn [last weekend],” said senior co-captain Seth Gordon. “Our goal that we’ve talked about is to take three-out-of-four from all division opponents, and if we do that we’re guaranteed at least a tie of our division. These are obviously four huge games against Columbia.”

Cornell will send its ace, senior co-captain Rocky Collis (3-1), to the mound in Game 1 of tomorrow’s doubleheader and will pitch junior Blake Hamilton (1-4) in Game 2. Both pitchers picked up wins against Penn last weekend, as Collis threw a complete-game two-hitter in Cornell’s 10-1 victory over the Quakers last Saturday, while Hamilton scattered six hits over 6 1/3 innings to pick up the win in Game 2 that day.

Junior Jim Hyland (2-2) and freshman Chris Carls (0-3) will go for Cornell in Sunday’s double header. Carls is coming off his first start of the year this past Wednesday against LeMonye where he pitched four strong innings in the loss.

“Chris has pitched pretty consistently for us the whole year,” said head coach Tom Ford. “We just thought we’d try to go with the hot hand.”

Columbia will counter with a pitching staff ranked sixth in the Ivy League in ERA (7.01), seventh in runs allowed (290) and last in walks issued (151). Bill Purdy (1-6) headlines the Lion’s rotation, leading the team in strikeouts (30) and complete games (2).

Defensively, Columbia has allowed 63 stolen bases this season – the most in the Ivy League – and Ford looks for his team to take any advantage it can on the basepaths.

“Certainly, we go into every game hoping we can get some things going on the bases,” Ford said. “If they’re holding the runners well, then we’ll try more hit-and-runs and bunts.”

Despite owning the lowest batting average (.262) in the Ivy League, Cornell’s bats have caught fire as of late, exploding for 52 runs on 64 hits in four games against Penn last weekend.

The key to the Red’s turnaround has been sophomore Brian Kaufman, who leads the Ivies in runs (35) and has homered in four straight games.

Columbia has batted .270 as a team on the year. The Lions boast five starters hitting above .300, however, they lead the Ivies in strikeouts (275) and are tied with Dartmouth for fewest home runs (7).

Ford, however, isn’t looking to out-slug Columbia this weekend.

“I don’t think we ever go into a weekend thinking we’re going to score that many runs. … The law of averages is working against us,” Ford said. “Sooner or later, we’re going to have to win some close well-pitched games. Whether that’s this weekend or the next, we’ll see.”

Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Assistant Sports Editor