It was good news and bad news for the baseball team this past weekend. Though the Red won its season opener over the weekend — a 1-0 win over Siena on Friday — the Red dropped its next three games in Charlottesville, Va., falling to No. 16 host Virginia twice and to Siena on the final day of the tournament.
“Overall, [the weekend] wasn’t as good as we hoped for,” said freshman pitcher Corey Pappel, “but I think we showed ourselves that we can play with top competition. We just have to play all game every game, not just in segments like we did. … Our second game against UVA, we had seven good innings but two bad innings, and that’s what cost us the game.”[img_assist|nid=28512|title=Slip n’ slide|desc=The Red looked good in its season opener against Siena, but lost its next three games to finish the weekend 1-3.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The bad stretches came early and often for the Red (1-3). Off to its best start ever, Virginia (10-0) jumped out to an early lead in the games on both Saturday and Sunday. In the first game, senior Red hurler Walker Toma gave up a three-run homer in the first inning on the way to a 12-2 loss.
In the second matchup between Cornell and Virginia, a 12-3 statement by home team Virginia on Sunday, the Cavaliers scored 10 unanswered runs in the first two innings, during which period the Red committed four errors.
“Our defense let one get out of hand [Sunday],” said head coach Tom Ford. “We had an early 10-0 deficit. [Defense is] something that we take pride in, [but] a couple physical errors and before you know it we’re behind by a bunch. … The first game, they swung the bats pretty well. They kind of took the game to us. The second game, we handed it to them, but again they’re a very good team so they’ll take advantage of that. … It was a good experience for the guys I think. It’s great to get down there and play against that type of program, to be in that type of atmosphere.”
At least during the tournament opener, the Red thrived on that atmosphere. Pappel’s performance on the mound was the difference in the Red’s shutout win over Siena (1-6). The freshman allowed four hits in six innings on the mound, and sophomore reliever Matt Hill allowed one hit in three innings, giving him his first collegiate save.
“I try to keep my mind pretty stable on pitching,” Pappel said, “[but] there’s always a little bit of pressure at game time.
When the two teams met again on Sunday, Cornell attempted a comeback late but fell short for an 8-5 loss.
“Against Siena, we were down by four runs,” Pappel said, “but still in the bottom of the ninth we got a whole bunch of guys on base and had the winning run at home plate. We didn’t get the result [we wanted], but at least we kept battling until the end.”
Although Siena had a 7-1 lead after two and a half innings, Cornell was able to cut that lead thanks to production from several different players. Senior Brian Kaufman scored from first on a double to left-center by Nathan Ford in the third inning. Sophomore Jerry Vitiello went 3-for-4, while freshman Mickey Brodsky hit his first collegiate home run in the second inning and now leads the team with a .364 batting average.
“[Brodsky] swung the bat very well,” coach Ford said. “He was in the middle of our lineup. He and Nathan Ford had some very good at-bats. … [Brodsky] definitely showed what we think he can do. He hit in the middle of the lineup and produced some runs for us. He was aggressive at the plate. Even when he was making outs, he made some solid contact.”
Insecurity at the plate, however, was a general weakness for the Red over the weekend, according to Ford.
“I thought we were going to come out a little more aggressive with the bats, and that’s a thing that we’re certainly stressing [now],” he said. “We did a better job of that on Sunday in both games. … The first couple of games we didn’t swing the bats too well. We were a little tentative at the plate, but of course our pitchers did a great job the first game to be able to win the game 1-0. … Basically, in the three losses, we didn’t swing the bats as consistently or aggressively as we will [this season].”