“There’s no place like home.”
Although a young girl from Kansas made this phrase famous in 1939, the baseball team hopes it still remains true as it opens up its longest home stand of the season, hosting a pair of doubleheaders against Columbia — one tomorrow and another Sunday.
Cornell (10-19, 4-8 Ivy) will send sophomore lefty Matt Hill (5-2, 3.95 ERA) and freshman Corey Pappel (2-3, 4.35 ERA) to the mound tomorrow in Game 1 and Game 2 to tame the first-place Lions (13-21, 8-4 Ivy).
“I think we all know how important this weekend is, especially since Columbia is in first place and we’re in last,” Pappel said. “However, at the same time, if we sweep, we tie them with identical records. We are very aware of what this weekend means as far as our season goes. Hopefully, we’re going to be ready to go out there [tomorrow] and set the tone for the rest of the weekend.”
However, Columbia has a couple of aces of its own, including senior John Baumann, who earned Ivy League Pitcher of the Week accolades this week, and junior Joe Scarlata, who received the same honor for his pitching prowess the previous week.[img_assist|nid=29985|title=Hey Mickey you’re so fine|desc=Freshman Mickey Brodsky (32) waits for a throw from the pitcher. Brodsky and the Red will battle the first-place Lions for four games this weekend.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We’ve been swinging the bats really well lately,” said junior shortstop Scott Hardinger. “So, I’m hoping we will continue to do that. Columbia has some pretty good pitching, but I think our approach at the plate over the last two-and-a-half to three weeks has been phenomenal. I think we’ll keep hitting the ball like we’ve been hitting it.”
At the plate, senior second baseman Henry Perkins is the King of the Lions with a team-leading .373 average. Perkins also leads the Ancient Eight with five triples and is tied for second with 11 doubles.
“I just have to go out there and pitch the way I can pitch,” Pappel said. “As long as I make good pitches and throw strikes, I should be fine, but if you make mistakes to the guys in this league, they can make you pay. It’s especially important getting ahead early in the count. If I can get the hitters behind in the count, it makes my job a lot easier as a pitcher.”
Home field has not been an advantage for the Red this season as it has posted a disappointing 1-4 record at Hoy Field. However, Cornell is not deterred by its home field struggles, and welcomes the opportunity to make up ground within the Gehrig Division.
“This is a big weekend for us,” Hardinger said. “Columbia is atop of our division right now. The nice part about playing a team in our division is when you beat a team, it’s a two-way street because you win one and they lose one, which is always a good thing for moving up in the standings. Every game from now on is the most important game. We’re looking forward to it and it’s going to be great playing at home in nice weather, so we’re excited.”
Columbia is the only team in the Ivy League that Cornell can boast of a winning record in head-to-head action since its inaugural season in 1869. The Red leads the all-time series 113-86, but the Lions present fierce competition according to Hardinger.
“Columbia is known as being a very scrappy team, so each game is going to be a very close game,” he said. “I’m excited for it. I love playing in these types of situations, where it’s a big weekend and every game means something. It should be a lot of fun.”
On Sunday, sophomores Tony Bertucci and David Rochefort will take the hill for the Cornell in Game 1 and Game 2, respectively. Both pitchers are coming off shaky outings against Penn last weekend, but have provided moments of effectiveness throughout the campaign.
As the team gets set to open up eight straight games at home, the team can only hope that for them, just like for Dorothy, “There’s no place like home.”
“There’s no place like home.”