April 15, 2008

Cornell Seeks Redemption

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With morale at an all-time high after a three-win outing at Penn over the weekend, the baseball team will get a chance today to exorcise some demons from earlier in the season. In a rematch of Cornell’s 11-5 overtime loss to Le Moyne two weeks ago, the Red (10-17, 4-8 Ivy) will play an afternoon doubleheader with Le Moyne (14-16) in Syracuse, N.Y.
“We’re coming off a pretty good weekend,” said freshman Mickey Brodsky. “We have a different confidence about us. We just want to keep the winning streak alive. … Plus we haven’t beaten them in awhile. It’s about time we got some payback against them.”
Le Moyne leads the series 33-11 and the last Cornell win came on April 12, 2005 in Ithaca, 2-0. The Dolphins have won the last eight games in the series, including the extra-innings heartbreaker on April 5.[img_assist|nid=29860|title=Better luck next time|desc=Senior catcher Adam Jacobs (left) slides safely back to first base during a home victory against Harvard on Tuesday, April 8.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
When the two teams met at Hoy Field that afternoon, it was a tight, back-and-forth game. Le Moyne freshman Jeff Tardiff had pitched from the eighth inning on and held the Red offense for all of three innings except for some two-out, bottom of the ninth heroics by Cornell’s Jadd Schmeltzer. The rookie came to the plate with fellow freshman Brodsky on base and a two-run Dolphin lead. Schmeltzer’s home run to left center sent game to extra innings, but the Dolphins scored six runs in the top of the tenth to crush Cornell’s momentum in the game and going into the next weekend of Ivy play.
The Red followed that game with five straight losses but is now riding a three-game win streak based on a surging offense.
“We had a good day [Sunday],” said head coach Tom Ford. “[I hope that we] just keep playing with that confidence and focus. … Certainly just in this past weekend the guys have gotten into a bit of a rhythm, but that’s baseball. Being able to do this day-in day-out, that’s the secret.”
In the last game against Le Moyne, Cornell was focused on setting a foundation for the season. The home team sent 10 different pitchers to the mound, including some freshmen, to get them more game experience. The strategy backfired, however, when the Red ran out of pitchers at the end of the game.
“I don’t think we’ll use 10 [pitchers this time like the last LeMoyne game],” Ford said. “We’ll take up six or seven and we want to get some guys some work in, but it won’t be like last time. … We want to make sure the guys who need it get work in but [that we] go after the game as well.”
Senior co-captain Adam Jacobs started at catcher in that game, and he saw a difference in the team between then and now.
“We were pretty young [then],” he said, “and we were still trying to find a lineup that worked, still trying to figure out who would start, [who would] come off the bench, who would be our go-to pitchers. … Now everyone knows their role.”
Now entering a five-game homestand, the Dolphins have also fallen into roles and found some newfound confidence of their own. Since that win in early April, Le Moyne has gone 4-2 in two three-game series on the road. After dropping two close games to Niagara on April 5 and 6, the Dolphin offense made a splash last weekend against St. Peter’s in Jersey City, N.J.
After Le Moyne hammered St. Peter’s 20-1 and 29-7 on Saturday, the two teams were tied going into the ninth in Sunday’s game. Sophomore left fielder Chris Edmondson and senior catcher Phil St. Amant’s RBI doubles jumpstarted the offense, and the Dolphins pulled out the 8-4 win to sweep the series.
Edmondson and St. Amant, hitting .360 and .340, respectively, have been tearing up the base paths for the Dolphins recently. Batting in the three-hole and cleanup, Edmondson went 8-for-12 over last weekend with 11 RBIs and St. Amant went 12-for-17, each with a home run on Saturday.
It will be “just a day trip” for the Red, according to Ford, as the team travels to Syracuse this morning and returns after the doubleheader, but the midweek matchup will also be a homecoming of sorts for Cornell assistant coach Bill Kerry. A 1998 LeMoyne graduate, Kerry was a two-time first-team all-MAAC catcher in four seasons for the Dolphins.
“I’m a catcher and Coach Kerry works with catchers, so we work pretty closely [and he has talked about Le Moyne],” Jacobs said. “It’s certainly given us some extra incentive to beat them, since it’s his alma mater so we can rub it in his face. … But he’s committed to us now and wants us to win. It’s an added personal thing for us to … have fun with.”