April 6, 2007

Baseball Hits Road to Face Dartmouth, Harvard

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After one of the best conference starts in recent memory, the baseball team will try to stay on top of the Ivy League standings this weekend as it heads to Hanover, N.H. to play a twin bill with Dartmouth tomorrow before traveling to Cambridge, Mass., for a doubleheader with Harvard on Sunday. The Red (9-12, 3-1 Ivy) will step away from the friendly confines of newly renovated Hoy Field for the first time since its 16-game Spring Break road trip in March to start the season.
“[Going on the road] shouldn’t be a problem,” said head coach Tom Ford . “In order for us to be successful, we’ve got to win on the road because that’s where we play the majority of our games. I’m not expecting it to be a problem.”
Senior pitcher Jim Hyland — who threw consecutive shutouts in his last two outings to earn Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors — will start Game 1 against Dartmouth (4-13-1, 1-3) and freshman Tony Bertucci will get the nod in Game 2. The Green — who finished 12-8 last year in the Rolfe Division of the Ivy League — began the season on a high note, with a 3-2-1 record in its first six games. Things took a turn for the worse from there, however, as Dartmouth proceeded to lose 11 of 12 games heading into tomorrow’s match up with Cornell.
The Green is led on offense by freshman outfielder Nick Santomaura and junior shortstop Erik Bell. Santomaura has wasted no time adjusting to the collegiate level and is off to a scorching start to the season, leading the team in most offensive categories, including batting average (.439), RBI (16), total bases (32), slugging percentage (.561), walks (12) and on base percentage (.529). Bell is also a major contributor with an impressive .344 average to go along with a .463 on-base percentage and 11 runs.
Cornell will most likely face Dartmouth’s top-two pitchers, senior Jeff Wilkerson and freshman Robert Young. Wilkerson leads the team with two wins, 29 innings pitched and 20 strikeouts while Young sports a 3.04 ERA with two complete games and 18 strikeouts.
Harvard (6-10, 2-2) comes into Sunday’s doubleheader having won three of its last five games, including a split with both Penn and Columbia to kick off its Ivy League schedule. Junior third baseman Steffan Wilson — who was named the pre-season Ivy League Player of the Year as well as the league’s top professional prospect by Baseball America — anchors a talanted Crimson lineup. Wilson has a .345 batting average, 19 hits, 11 runs, 27 total bases and a .491 slugging percentage so far this season. The strength of the squad, however, is its deep and talented starting rotation. Junior Brad Unger — the team’s No. 1 starter — has posted a 1.77 ERA in four starts this season. He is supported by freshmen Eric Eadington, who has complied a 2.81 ERA in three starts this year, and Max Perlan, who has added two wins and a complete game.
Freshman David Rochefort will take the mound for Cornell in Game 1, and junior Walker Toma — who is tied for the team lead with three wins — will start Game 2. Despite using seven pitchers in Tuesday’s game against Le Moyne, Ford doesn’t believe fatigue will be a factor for the bullpen.
“No, I’m not concerned about them,” he said. “We didn’t extend any of them for more than they usually throw; it was a throwing day for most of them, so they would have pitched on the side anyways.”
Although Cornell eventually fell to Le Moyne, 11-8, the offense showed signs of dominance by producing the third most runs it has all season, something the Red will try to duplicate this weekend.
“Our focus is on playing one game at a time,” Ford said. “Then we’ll see what happens.”