April 2, 2007

Baseball Wins Two, Drops One

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The baseball team opened its Ivy League season on a positive note this past weekend, splitting a Saturday doubleheader with Yale before scoring a narrow 2-1 victory over Brown yesterday. The second game against Brown was postponed due to rain, and will be played today at noon .

“It was a good feeling that our kids came out and played good, solid baseball,” said assistant coach Scott Marsh. “Even the game we lost was only by one run, and we were in it at the end with a chance to win. It’s not just about the wins and losses, it’s about playing good baseball and putting ourselves in a position to win; and by that standard we are definitely happy with our play this weekend.”

[img_assist|nid=22422|title=Peanuts and Cracker Jacks|desc=Senior Jim Hyland pitched a two-hit complete game shut out in a 5-0 win against Yale in the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday.|link=node|align=left|width=100|height=78]

In what were Cornell’s (8-11, 2-1 Ivy) first three home games of the season, the Red marked the opening of the newly renovated Hoy Field, which underwent a $3.2 million renovation in the off-season. Playing with new dugouts, new bullpens and on newly installed FieldTurf, the Red won the opener with Yale (7-17, 1-1), 5-0, behind a masterpiece from senior hurler Jim Hyland, before dropping a 6-5 decision in game two.

“It was definitely really exciting,” Hyland said. “You have the new field, it’s the first weekend of Ivy play, a lot of alumni and parents are back. To win the very first game and two out of three on the weekend, its huge to start the season that way, and everything else just adds to the excitement.”

On Sunday, amidst a persistent downpour, Cornell received a solid performance out of three different pitchers and came back from a one-run deficit against Brown (7-11, 2-1) to notch a 2-1 victory and secure a winning record for the weekend.

After dropping six of its last seven games, all on the road, the Red sought to begin its conference schedule on a positive note, and Hyland (3-2, 2.51 ERA) — the team’s No. 1 starter — responded in a big way. Hyland pitched a complete game shutout, striking out two while allowing just two hits. Sophomore Stefan Schropp took the loss for the Bulldogs. Allowing three runners to reach base in the first two innings, Hyland shut the door and retired the final 13 batters. Hyland, however, was eager to deflect praise to his defense.

“I had pretty good stuff that day but I got a lot of help from the defense,” Hyland said. “I only struck out two guys, so it was the fielders making the plays for me. The guys in the field made a lot of plays and deserve a lot of credit.”

“It’s fun to watch him pitch right now,” Marsh said. “He is locked in, has very good command and is very aggressive, which makes him a difficult kid to hit. You always want to have our No. 1 locked in, and Jimmy has certainly been throwing well.”

The Red scored a pair of runs in the first and never looked back. After sophomore Domenic Di Ricco led off with a walk, junior Jimmy Heinz doubled him home. Heinz would later score on sophomore Nathan Ford’s single. The Red would add two more runs in the third, and put the game out of reach with runs in the fifth and sixth innings, including a Heinz solo shot, the first home run in Cornell’s newly renovated stomping grounds. The dinger capped off a big game for Heinz, who had a two hits and two RBI.

“He’s doing a nice job at the plate and playing good defense at second base,” Marsh said. “I like him up there at the plate; he’s aggressive and if he can get a pitch over the plate, he’ll whale it somewhere.”

In Game 2, Ford had a big game at the plate with three hits and an RBI to lead the offense. Freshman Tony Bertucci picked up the loss, after being chased from the game by Bulldog five-run fifth inning, including a three run-homer by catcher Ryan Lavarnway. While Cornell rallied with three runs in the sixth, Yale’s Brian Irving came on to work the final 3.1 innings and shut the door on the Red, as he retired the final 7 batters to preserve the 6-5 victory.

On a rainy and gloomy Sunday, the Red sent freshman David Rochefort to the hill to face Brown. Rochefort, while allowing four hits and four walks in just three innings, got outs when it mattered and allowed just one run to score before being replaced by sophomore Stephen Osterer.

“Our pitching was great today,” Hyland said. “Rochefort started and, although it didn’t always look pretty he got out of tough jams.”

Osterer and senior Blake Hamilton closed the door on the Bears. Osterer continued a breakout season with three scoreless innings, while the reliable Hamilton shut the door in the seventh to end the game. For a team that has struggled to find depth in the bullpen, yesterday’s effort was vital.

“Osterer and Hamilton both did a great job.” Marsh said, “This is exactly what we need to garner some confidence. … If we play well and one of our starters falters, we have guys in the bullpen who can come out and keep us in the game.”

While Brown took the lead in the second, Cornell tied it up in the third before taking the lead in the fifth. With one out, junior Adam Jacobs scored on Di Ricco’s suicide squeeze to put the Red ahead.

While the Red took a two-run lead early in the second game of the Brown series, the rain negated both the game and the lead. Cornell and Brown are set to make up the game today at noon.