After winning three out of its four Ivy League games this past weekend, the baseball team will try to keep its momentum going when it squares off against Le Moyne in a doubleheader today at Hoy Field.
“The morale of the team is really high right now,” said junior tri-captain Brian Kaufman. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been 3-1 in the league and we were pretty close to sweeping last weekend, so we’re really confident. Hopefully we can win both games tomorrow and bring our overall record back to .500.”
According to head coach Tom Ford, the team will rest a number of its key pitchers in today’s contest for the weekend series against Dartmouth and Harvard. As a result, junior Bryce Klinesteker will be the starting pitcher in Game 1 at 2 p.m. while an assortment of lesser-used pitchers will see action in Game 2 at 4:30 p.m.
[img_assist|nid=22504|title=I call it the terminator.|desc=Senior Pitcher Jim Hyland — the Ivy League Pitcher of the Week — delivers a pitch during his two-hit shutout of Yale on Saturday to lead the Red to a 5-0 victory.|link=node|align=left|width=100|height=62]
Le Moyne (8-15, 4-2 MAAC) — who was predicted by Baseball America earlier this season to win the MAAC conference — has experienced mixed results so far this year. The Dolphins began their 2007 campaign by losing 13 of their first 15 contests, all of which were on the road. Since that time, however, the squad has won six of its last eight games, most recently winning two of three from MAAC rival Fairfield at home. Furthermore, Le Moyne has shown a knack for pulling out close games as all of its victories were decided by three runs or less, including three one-run victories.
The Dolphins boast a well-balanced offensive lineup as well as a number of dominating pitchers. On offense, the squad is led by a dynamic tandem of juniors on the left side of the infield — shortstop Andy Parrino and third baseman Stephen Crawford. The duo acts as a catalyst for the team, with Parrino sporting a team-leading .374 batting average and .426 on-base percentage while Crawford is not far behind with a .352 average, .422 on-base percentage and 11 steals in 14 attempts. Classmate Phil St. Amant — who has two homeruns and 17 RBI on the season — is also a legitimate power threat for Le Moyne.
On the mound, the team is led by a couple of dominating arms in senior closer Ryan Woods and classmate starter Bobby Blevins. Woods — who was named MAAC Relief Pitcher of the Year in 2006 after saving 11 games with a 0.60 earned run average — leads the team with a 1.96 ERA and five saves. Blevins — who is the program’s career leader in wins (23) — has a 2-2 record in six starts to go along with a 3.95 ERA and 35 strikeouts this season.
“Le Moyne is always a very strong team so we’ve got to pitch [well] and keep our focus,” Ford said. “We just can’t show up because it’s a non-conference game.”
The Red (9-11, 3-1 Ivy League) will counter with consistently solid defense, a potent lineup and a plethora of talent on the hill. Sophomore Nathan Ford, who is also the starting quarterback for the Red football team, paces the offense with a team-best .347 average while Kaufman has accumulated a team-leading three home runs, 17 RBI and nine stolen bases.
The squad often receives contributions up and down the lineup, however. This was exemplified by the play of freshman Justin Milo this past weekend, who stepped in for slumping sophomore tri-captain Brant McKown at designated hitter and proceeded to collect six hits in eight at bats, including a double and a triple.
Senior Jimmy Hyland, who has established himself as the team’s clear No. 1 starter, anchors the Red pitching staff. Hyland has pitched four complete games in five starts so far this season and leads the staff in wins (3), ERA (2.51), innings pitched (32 1/3) and earned runs allowed (9).
This past week, the senior earned Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors after throwing two consecutive shutouts. The first was a complete-game two-hitter in the Red’s 5-0 win over Yale on Saturday and the second was a four-hit shutout against Army on March 25.
According to Kaufman, the key to the team’s success in today’s games is simply playing with a great deal of confidence.
“We need to keep playing with a lot of confidence and know that when we step onto the field, that we’re the best team,” he said. “And pitching and timely hitting is always important.”