Just when things looked to be as bleak as the weather for the baseball team yesterday, the sun came out for junior Walker Toma and the relief pitcher earned the victory in Game 2 of the Red’s (10-21, 5-9 Ivy) split against Columbia (9-29, 5-13) at Hoy Field, pitching 4 2/3 scoreless innings in leading the Red to a come from behind victory, 10-6. The win was a much-needed victory for Cornell, which is trying to keep pace with Princeton in hopes for a Gehrig division title.
“It was a huge performance by Walker,” said head coach Tom Ford. “That was big. You get a couple of runs and you get closer and you’ve got to shut them down defensively. That was huge that Walker could do that, because then the hitters say, ‘OK, let’s get back in and get some.'”
Game 1 saw the Red lead early and fall late to a pesky Columbia team, losing by a score of 7-3. With a 3-1 lead going into the top of the fifth, the Lions finally got to senior Rocky Collis. The game-breaking fifth inning was highlighted by a two-RBI triple from Columbia’s Ron Williams and a solo shot home run from Noah Cooper. With the Red offense unable to answer, the Lions then added two more runs in the sixth.
Collis went 5 2/3 innings, giving up 13 hits while striking out one Lion batter. Junior Tom Laughlin came on in relief, pitching 1 1/3 hitless innings. Senior Seth Gordon and freshman Nathan Ford each went 2-for-3 in the game. Ford’s two hits were both doubles.
“I think [Collis] pitched, he battled, and he’s a battler,” said Columbia head coach Brett Boretti. “He’s one of the better pitchers in the league and we just we did a pretty good job when we were down in the count of going the other way and kind of taking what he was giving us. He was working away a lot and the guys were doing a good job letting the ball travel and hitting it to the opposite field.”
Game 2 turned out to be the exact opposite of Game 1, with Columbia jumping out to an early 6-2 lead before the Red came to bat in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman Scott Hardinger hit a bases loaded double to cut the lead to 6-5.
After Toma took over on the mound for junior Blake Hamilton, Ford tied the game for the Red, driving in sophomore Brian Kaufman with a RBI double. Cornell’s next batter, senior Michael Weiss, then gave the Red the lead with a RBI double.
Kaufman tacked on an insurance run in the home half of the eighth, scoring Hardinger on a seeing-eye base hit up the middle. Freshman Brant McKown sealed the victory for Cornell with a two-RBI double to the left-field fence.
McKown and Weiss paced the Red in Game 2, each going 3-for-5 at the plate. Kaufman led the team with three runs scored. Hamilton went 4 1/3 innings, striking out five with no walks.
The real story for the Red was Toma, who held the Lions in check while the Red offense founds its groove in the late innings.
“The change up was working really well today,” Toma said. “It was setting up everything else. I didn’t throw that many breaking balls, but my change up was real effective for me.”
After rain pushed back the first day of the four game series against Columbia to yesterday, the team will play the rest of the series this afternoon. Junior Jim Hyland will pitch Game 1, while freshman Chris Carls will get the ball in Game 2. Despite taking Game 2 yesterday, the team was all business when it came to preparing for today’s action.
“We were happy to come back in the second game, but we have to take two [today].” Kaufman said. “We need come back [today] and, obviously, we need to win two. We can and we should.”
Archived article by Tim Kuhls Sun Assistant Sports Editor