April 27, 2007

Baseball Finishes Season

Print More

With the baseball team’s Gehrig division and playoff hopes dashed, Cornell will take on Princeton in four games this weekend to finish off its season. The Red is currently three games back of idle Penn, which ended Cornell’s playoff hopes with a two-game split on Tuesday.
“We are playing for each other right now,” said junior Brian Kaufman, who is third on the team with 20 RBI. “We are playing for our teammates and our own personal pride. We can’t make the playoffs, but we can be a spoiler. I view Princeton as our biggest rival, and while Penn is obviously in a position to win the division, I think we are generally the two premier teams in the Gehrig division.”
That is not to say, however, that this weekend’s games are without meaning; with one win in the four-game set, the Red (14-20, 7-9 Ivy) will end the Tigers’ playoff chances. After two games in Princeton, N.J., tomorrow, the two teams will come back to Ithaca for the Sunday doubleheader, which will also mark the dedication of the newly renovated Hoy Field.
“It means a lot,” Kaufman said of the dedication. “One thing that I have taken away from being a part of the baseball team is the sense of a Cornell family. Everywhere we’ve gone, we’ve had support, whether it’s from alumni, people’s parents or donors to the program. This weekend and the dedication is an opportunity for us to thank everyone for all their help. It’s a very good opportunity, and it means a lot to have everyone coming together and hopefully put on a good show for them as well.”
Hoy Field, which has been the home of Cornell baseball since 1922, underwent significant off-season renovations, including the addition of new dugouts, bleachers and batting cages. After a banquet dinner tomorrow night for the team, families and donors to the program, the team will dedicate the field before Sunday’s doubleheader.
However, despite all the festivities, the Red remains focused on ending its season the right way. Senior Jim Hyland (4-4, 3.35), who has been a rock at the starting end of the rotation, will get the start in Game 1. Freshman Dave Rochefort will get the call for Game 2, while classmate Tony Bertucci and junior Walker Toma will start Games 3 and 4, respectively.
The Tigers (12-22, 8-8) will counter with sophomore Brent Gemberling in Game 1. Gemberling has had an outstanding season, and has been a great midseason addition to the starting rotation. The 6-2 righthander owns a 2-0 record and a 1.33 ERA. He has also struck out 17 batters in 20 innings.
On offense, the Red will turn to the usual suspects at the top of the order to lead the way. Sophomore Nathan Ford leads the team in both average (.339) and RBI (25), and will look to put the finishing touches on a breakout season. Junior Jimmy Heinz has also had a fine season and leads the team in home runs (four) and is second with 22 RBI. Freshman Justin Milo, who was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week after batting .467 this past weekend, has had a big impact in the middle of the lineup. At the top of the order, sophomore Domenic Di Ricco has had a standout campaign, batting .301 while proving to be a remarkable offensive catalyst, getting on base at a .430 clip.
“Dom has done an incredible job getting on base, whether it’s putting the ball in play or drawing walks,” Kaufman said. “He is a very patient hitter at the plate, and that’s what we need at the top of the lineup.”
The Princeton offense, which comes into the weekend averaging over 5.2 runs per game, will challenge the Cornell pitching staff. Led by senior Sal Iacono, the Tigers sport five regular starters that are hitting over .300, while the other two regulars each have four home runs. Iacono, who is batting .389 with four HR and 31 RBI, will be looking to extend his season and his career against the Red.