April 25, 2006

Cornell Stays in Gehrig Race After Series Split

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After giving up six runs in the eighth inning to lose Game 1 of yesterday’s doubleheader against Columbia, the baseball team’s quest for a second Gehrig Division title seemed in a condition similar to that of a patient in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. When freshman Chris Carls – in his first start ever – gave up a leadoff double in Game 2, the season’s EKG seemed ready to flatline.

But the rookie pitcher recovered from the leadoff blow, to pitch an eight-inning, two-run, nine-strike out gem, while sophomore Ry Kagan went three-for-four in the game as the Red breathed new life into its season with an 11-2 win in the nightcap.

With the split, the Red moved to 10-24 (6-10 Ivy) on the season, while the Lions now boast a 10-30 (6-14) mark. More importantly, the Game 2 win kept Cornell within a game of Gehrig division-leader Princeton, which dropped the opener of its doubleheader with Penn yesterday.

“Certainly it was big win and we’re disappointed that we didn’t get two,” said Cornell head coach Tom Ford. “But going into this weekend, we’re still in this thing.”

Junior Jim Hyland (2-2) went seven innings in Game 1 for the Red, allowing four runs, one earned, on nine hits. The Lions countered with Nick Olesak, who gave up four runs in six innings of work.

“[Olesak] did a nice job. He worked both sides of the plate against our hitters,” Ford said. “It was one of those games where we didn’t get to the other guy quick enough and they kind of shut us down.”

Neither starter would be credited with a decision as Cornell tied the game at four in the sixth, with a solo shot from freshman Brant McKown and an RBI triple from senior William Pauly, who was 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run in the loss.

The game headed into the top of the eighth knotted at four, when the wheels started to fall off for the Red. Three Cornell pitchers combined to give up six runs – one earned – in an inning that saw six walks, two errors, one balk and only two hits.

“The first game we came out kind of flat,” Carls said. “The other pitcher was pretty good, and we just seemed a little lackadaisical.”

After its frustrating, extra-inning defeat, the Red took the field for Game 2, unaware that the Tigers had lost their game, 9-7, against the Quakers.

Things looked bleak for Cornell, as Columbia’s Henry Perkins led off the nightcap with line-drive that soared over Kagan’s head in right field for a stand-up double.

“I was a little bit shaken,” Carls said. “I was like ‘Well, I’m throwing fastballs right down the middle’ so, I figured I had to change that up.”

And change it up he did. Relying on his slider, and throwing a few curveballs for strikeouts, Carls held the Lions to just one hit over the next five innings.

“[Carls] pitched a great game. He’s only a freshman and he’s a guy that we’re going to be battling against for the next three years,” said Columbia head coach Brett Boretti. “[He’s a] quick arm guy, in the zone [with a] nice little slider. He’s a guy that right-handers are going to have a tough time with and our lefties had a tough time with him too.”

Meanwhile, Cornell exploded in the fifth for five runs on six hits, highlighted by freshman Scott Hardinger’s double to the gap in right centerfield.

The Red got two more in the sixth, thanks to a home run from sophomore Brian Kaufman, who went 4-for-5 with two RBIs in the game.

Columbia would get one back in the eighth, but Kagan would drive the final nail into the coffin with a three-RBI triple off the centerfield wall in the bottom of the inning.

“Ry hasn’t been a regular starter for us, but when he’s gotten his opportunities he’s made the most of them,” Ford said. “Certainly he swung the bat very well today, especially the last week or so. He’s been going up there and swinging with confidence.”

Junior Kevin Conlin made his second appearance of the day to close out the ninth, giving up one hit while striking out one.

Cornell will be back in action today, as it hosts Siena for a one-game tune up before this weekend’s season ending series with Princeton.

Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Assistant Sports Editor