April 25, 2007

Baseball Drops Game 1, Takes Game 2 in 12

Print More

A tired pitching staff and an up-and-down offense led the baseball team to a doubleheader split with Penn yesterday afternoon on Hoy Field.
In the front end, Penn busted open a tight 3-1 lead in the fifth with five runs on its way to a 13-1 victory. Game 2 saw the Red jump out to a 10-5 lead, before a ninth-inning rally put the game into extra innings. Cornell pushed across the winning run in the twelfth on a botched double-play ball hit by sophomore Nathan Ford, giving the Red an 11-10 victory.
For the game, Ford collected five hits in six trips to the plate, adding two other RBI in addition to the game-winning RBI groundout.
“I felt real comfortable with my swing,” Ford said. “All weekend really I’ve been feeling really good.”
[img_assist|nid=23159|title=Walk-off grounder|desc=Sophomore Nathan Ford, who went 5-for-6 in the second game, won the affair for the Red with a botched double-play grounder to short in the twelfth.|link=node|align=left|width=86|height=100]Ford was not the only player putting up offensive numbers for the Red (14-20, 7-10 Ivy) in the second game. The game was a see-saw affair most of the way. Every time the Quakers (20-17, 12-8) plated a run, however, the Red answered. Penn put up one in the first, Ford collected his first RBI on a single to tie the ballgame. Penn scored once more in the second, the Red bounced back with a two-spot in the bottom of the frame.
“A lot of hitters took a diff approach [in game two],” Ford said. “With two strikes we did a better job battling and putting the ball in play hard somewhere.”
Bryce Klinesteker relieved Tom Laughlin in the second inning after he had faced only nine batters. Klinesteker held down the fort for the most part of the next four-plus innings, until he ran into a jam in the seventh.
Still, the Red clung to a 6-5 lead after Klinesteker faltered. In the bottom of the inning, Penn’s ace Todd Roth took the mound, but gave up back-to-back singles to freshman Justin Milo and Ford. Hardinger was then walked intentionally to load the bases, bringing up junior Ry Kagan. With the outfield shading the lefty to left-center, Kagan slapped a 1-2 pitch the opposite way, past a diving outfielder, and all the way to the wall.
“He just didn’t give up running around the bases,” said sophomore Brant McKown.
Not until he had gone the 90 feet between each base and slid in safely to home for an inside-the-park grand slam.
“So clutch … perfect timing,” said sophomore shortstop Scott Hardinger said.
So it seemed. Despite a rising pitch count for senior Blake Hamilton, head coach Tom Ford was forced to keep him out on the mound because of a depleted staff and upcoming league games with Princeton.
“The first few innings he was throwing really well,” Hardinger said. “Then his location went down a little, and I think that was just fatigue. It didn’t look like him out there.”
Penn put up a crooked number of five, tying the game at 10 and sending it into extra innings. Then the bats for both sides went quiet.
“[Roth] kind of settled down and found the zone,” Hardinger said. “We didn’t shut down completely, though, one inning we had bases loaded it was just that we couldn’t get that next hit, that last hit.”
The Red never really got that last hit, though. Ironically, after lining balls around the field all afternoon, it was a groundball that finished it off for the Red. Ford hit a dribbler to the shortstop with men on first and third and one out. William Gordon shoveled the ball to the second baseman who dropped the ball, allowing freshman Steven Dannaway to come in with the winning run.
The first game lacked the same dramatic flair. Penn threw lefty Jim Birmingham at Cornell and he kept the hitters guessing through three innings.
“He was more off-speed guy and he really worked our righties away,” Hardinger said. “He did a good job keeping the ball down and we couldn’t make the adjustments.”
Birmingham went three innings while the Penn offense took a 3-1 lead. The Quakers then swapped out Birmingham for a harder throwing righty in Doug Brown.
“He only had two pitches, a slider and a fastball, but he was a little bit of a harder thrower and he used his two pitches well,”
Hardinger said.
While the pitching staff kept the Red’s offense in check, the Quaker offense eventually busted the game open in the fifth when it turned a 3-1 advantage into an 8-1 lead. Another five-spot later and the Red found themselves on the short end of a 13-1 score.
“The staff was tired,” McKown said. “It’s tough coming in after playing four games a couple of days ago. We had guys pitching on short rest.”
“We’re also saving our pitches for this weekend in Princeton,” Hardinger said. “We had to be more conservative with them.”