April 4, 2008

Baseball Looks to Rebound From Tough Loss

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When the baseball team faces Brown and Yale on the road this weekend all three teams will have something to prove.
Though Brown and Yale are lingering in the middle of the Rolfe Division standings, the Red (6-11, 0-2 Ivy and last place in the Gehrig Division) has dropped its last three games, two league contests last weekend with Dartmouth and an 11-5 heartbreaker to LeMoyne (10-14) yesterday afternoon at Hoy field.
“We came into the game looking to win, but we’ve got six Ivy games coming up after this,” said senior Brian Kaufman. “Nine pitchers pitched [against LeMoyne], and I think it was important for them to get their work in. We could have had some more timely hits. … [but] it’s going to be important for us to put this one behind us and focus on the upcoming games, because they carry a lot more weight than this game does.”
The two teams had exchanged leads through the sixth. Senior Bryce Klinesteker then gave up a run in the top of the seventh to make it 4-3. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning, LeMoyne freshman ace Jeff Tardiff came in and got the third out.
The Dolphins extended their lead in the top of the ninth, but Schmeltzer’s two-run shot over the left field fence tied up the score at 5-5 and sent the contest to extra innings. It was the first home run of his college career.
“It was the fastest I’ve ever run around the bases for a home run before,” Schmeltzer said. “I just wanted to get in with my team and get the [win].”
Cornell’s comeback was short-lived, however. Freshman Mike Carroll recorded the loss, as the Dolphins scored six runs in the 10th, and the home team wasn’t able to get them back in the bottom of the inning.
Yesterday’s matchup with the Dolphins was like Ivy training for the Red. Head coach Tom Ford sent the majority of his pitching staff into the game and was generally happy with their performances. [img_assist|nid=29499|title=Mickey’s Mantle|desc=Freshman Mickey Brodsky and the Red will hit the road to take on Ivy foes Brown and Yale this weekend.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We just had to get guys out on the mound,” Ford said. “With only the doubleheader Sunday, that’s the only games that we’ve played since the spring trip. And going into this weekend, we just had to get guys out on the mounds. You can only do so much in bullpens to get them game-ready. So that’s why we went the one-pitcher-an-inning route, but unfortunately we got to the end there and we had [only] one pitcher left.”
Though the Bears (8-12, 1-3) are the defending Ivy League champions, the team is coming off an 8-2 loss to Rhode Island Wednesday, Game 2 of Brown’s home-opening doubleheader. Brown had won Game 1 of the series, 11-3, and also split its first Ivy series last weekend against Penn after losing both ends of a Columbia doubleheader.
“Brown’s pretty balanced, but [junior outfielder] Steve Daniels is at the top of their lineup,” Ford said. “He’s a good hitter and has gotten at least 11 [or] 15 stolen bases this year.”
Cornell’s second weekend opponent, Yale, has also been inconsistent. After a three-game losing streak, the Bulldogs (9-15-1, 2-1-1) opened their Ivy season with a win over the Quakers last Saturday, 5-1, but tied the next game and split with Columbia on Sunday. The Bulldog bats came to life, however, Wednesday in a 19-13 win over cross-town rival Quinnipiac.
Junior catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 3-for-4 with five runs in that game. He drives Yale’s team, according to Ford. Having been named Ivy League Player of the Week three times already this year, the junior leads the Bulldogs with a .432 batting average, .926 slugging percentage, 13 home runs and 36 RBI — and he’s only getting better.
While usually-consistent Cornell upperclassmen, such as junior Nathan Ford (who went 1-for-4), took a step back yesterday, it was two rookies who starred in the contest. Schmeltzer had a dominant outing on the mound in the 4th but made his biggest contribution with his bat. Along with his two-out homer against a cold win, the freshman was 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBI.
“Every at bat, I just took it as is,” Schmeltzer said. “Each at bat [assistant coach Bill Kerry] gave me something to look at — what the pitcher was doing, how he thought I was going to approach the plate and the pitcher — and everything just clicked. It was just my day.”
Classmate Mickey Brodsky, on the other hand, played more of a silent-but-deadly role in the offense. Finishing the game with four walks and a hit batsman, but no hits, the disciplined hitter tallied three of the Red’s five runs.
Though there is a quick turnaround between yesterday’s midweek loss and the league matchups this weekend, both Cornell’s underclassmen and upperclassmen know that the team has to move on from the LeMoyne loss to focus on the threats of Brown and Yale.
“I’m feeling really confident with our team going into [the weekend],” Schmeltzer said. “We had a rough loss [yesterday], so hopefully we’ll pick it up. Our bats are starting to come around. Everyone’s starting to feel good in the dugout. So, through practice and our preparation, I think we’re good for this weekend.”
“We play 40-some odd games, so you have to have a short memory,” Kaufman said. “Baseball is a game of failure. You succeed 30 percent of the time [in batting, at least], and you’ll make it to the Hall of Fame.”
“We’re on the road,” Ford said. “We’ve go to make sure we don’t dig ourselves a hole here.”