April 2, 2008

After Rainouts, Team Ready To Take on Le Moyne College

Print More

Unpredictable Ithaca weather this week has been dictating more than just the average student’s fashion choices on the East Hill. This week, even the members of the baseball team have been reconsidering their daily ensembles: normal clothes or uniform and cleats? After hours of debate and several schedule changes over the past few days, the Red will be dressed in full uniform to host in-state rival Le Moyne College at Hoy Field tomorrow at 4 p.m.
The team only found out yesterday afternoon that the Le Moyne game — originally set for today — was back on. When the weekend storms forced a postponement of the Red’s Saturday doubleheader against Harvard, schedules had to be tweaked.
The Red was planning to host the Crimson yesterday, but continuing bad weather pushed the conference matchup to early next week. Le Moyne’s game against St. Bonaventure, set for yesterday, was also postponed.
“We were supposed to play Harvard tomorrow, but the weather’s just so uncertain,” said junior shortstop Scott Hardinger. “It’s kind of a day-by-day thing. You always have to be ready to play. That’s why we work so much in the offseason to be mentally strong. Playing in the Northeast, you have to [be ready to deal with the weather].”
Even with that training, however, the Red was a little rattled by the repeated changes. Cornell is getting a late start on preparing for Le Moyne because of them.
Senior southpaw Bryce Klinesteker, for example, commented on the pitcher’s perspective, explaining how practice throwing times are meant to be held according to the day each pitcher is supposed to take the mound, and changing the game schedule disturbs the rotation’s readiness from a physical standpoint, not to mention the mental aspect.
“We were kind of anticipating playing Harvard [today], so we were focusing on that,” he said. “If we were playing Harvard [Thursday instead of Le Moyne], I could tell you all about them.”
Le Moyne leads the all-time series, 32-11. Based on last year’s matchup between the two teams, however, the stand-warmers at Hoy Field can expect to see a close game. On April 4, 2007, the Red fell to the visiting Dolphins, 11-8. After falling behind early, with the Red only getting on the board in the fifth inning to make it 6-1, the score was 10-3 going into the bottom of the eighth.[img_assist|nid=29389|title=Getting dirty|desc=Junior leftfielder Domenic Di Ricco (bottom) and the rest of the team will be ready for a close game against the Dolphins, who beat the Red 11-8 last year.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“They were very aggressive hitters [last year], and their pitchers were around the zone. They’re a team that’s going to score a lot of runs,” Hardinger said. “Both clubs are going to be throwing in a lot of pitchers to get some practice, since it’s a midweek game.”
Last year, Klinesteker got the start for the Red but came out after 2 1/3 innings, with six other Cornell hurlers getting in the game.
The home team is especially motivated to do well in this midweek game after dropping both ends of Sunday’s disappointing doubleheader against Dartmouth, 11-1 and 18-11, to open its regular season.
Le Moyne (9-14) will also look to halt a two-game losing skid after dropping a doubleheader to Manhattan on Sunday, 4-1 and 4-2. The Dolphins’ last win was a 10-9 squeaker over Buffalo last Tuesday, in which the Dolphins held onto an early lead based on left fielder Chris Edmondson’s big game, going 2-for-4 with 4 RBI off of two home runs.
The Dolphin offense is led by senior third baseman Stephen Crawford’s .409 batting average. With a relatively young pitching staff, the oldest leading Dolphin hurler is junior Eric Beulac. Le Moyne has gotten big contributions from sophomore left-hander Luke Nellis (2-3 with the team-leading 2.93 ERA and rookie right-hander Jeff Tardiff (1-2, 3.60 ERA).
Sophomore right-hander Daniel Tunison, who got the win against the Red last year, has also contributed valuable innings, getting his second save of the season in the win over Buffalo.
One year can make a huge difference, however, to the position of a team. Syracuse-based Le Moyne has been league-less since the summer, when the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference passed a by-law requiring that its members field all their sports at the Division-1 level. Such a school would have an unfair advantage because it can “pool its resources for just a few sports,” according to Hardinger.
Since the only programs at Le Moyne that passed the test were baseball and women’s lacrosse, the baseball team is now ineligible for the conference tournament and automatic NCAA bid that comes with a championship. Le Moyne had gotten used to winning — grabbing its fourth MAAC tournament title last year with 9-7 victory over Manhattan.
Playing Cornell, a traditional non-conference contest, should now have the same meaning to Le Moyne as facing a former league rival.