March 10, 2008

Baseball Splits Doubleheader in Philadelphia

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The baseball team was originally scheduled to play four games in Pennsylvania over the weekend. The rain had other plans, however, and Cornell crammed a weekend’s worth of action into Friday night’s doubleheader with La Salle.
Behind solid pitching in both ends of the doubleheader — the Red (2-4) dropped Game 1, 1-0, but rebounded with a 4-0 win in what would be the team’s last outing on a Philadelphia field.
“It’s not like we were asleep the first game,” said junior outfielder Domenic Di Ricco, “but we could really feel a change in the dugout [for the second game]. Guys were picking each other up and high-fiving each other. There was a real change in attitude. It felt like we were really playing baseball again, despite the horrible weather.”
With a one-hit performance from freshman pitcher Corey Pappel in Game 1 and sophomore Matt Hill only yielding four hits in the second game, the Red isn’t worried about its pitching. Rookie right-hander Pappel is yet to allow an earned run after winning his collegiate debut last week against Siena.
“[Playing behind such great pitching] definitely helps most defensively,” said junior third baseman Nathan Ford. “It keeps you in the game and makes you play better. And if they keep us in games, our offense should find a way [to win it].”[img_assist|nid=28676|title=Game face|desc=Sophomore Tony Bertucci (9) delivers to a Penn batter on April 14, 2007.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Red offense, however, struggled at first in Game 1. Continuing a trend from last week’s games, a shaky start for the Red ended up being the difference-maker. In the first inning, La Salle scored on two Cornell errors. Cornell’s offense briefly came to life in the next inning but left three men on base.
“We got some guys on but just didn’t score,” Ford said.
Both Ford and Di Ricco agreed that the Red’s approach to hitting was missing something in the opener.
“We just kept getting behind them in the counts,” Di Ricco said. “We weren’t swinging at hitter’s pitches, we were swinging at pitcher’s pitches, so it’s hard to do something productive with that.”
Game 2, on the other hand, was a turnaround. Ford scored early on freshman Mickey Brodsky’s two-out single, and two La Salle errors led to two Cornell runs in the fifth.
“We went the other way a lot [more],” Ford said. “They were pitching us outside a lot, and we got hits [with guys] in scoring position. That’s what we needed to do.”
Cornell couldn’t build on the win, though as the Red was kept in suspense about the rest of the weekend’s games when bad weather hit the area Friday afternoon. Saturday’s contest with Temple was cancelled, and the team practiced indoors Saturday morning, waiting to see if its scheduled matchup with host Villanova would go on. When the field was declared too wet, the Red returned to Ithaca later on Saturday, already looking forward to its Spring Break competition.
“At least we got two games in,” Ford said. “We’re starting to click [at this point in the season]. The first two weeks, you’re seeing live pitching outside for the first time. … As the season goes on, we’ll be able to make adjustments.”
“We see where we’re at right now,” Di Ricco said.