April 21, 2008

Ford Has Big Weekend at Plate But Lions Tame Red

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This weekend, the baseball team defeated Columbia, the team sitting atop the Gehrig Division. Unfortunately for the last-place Red (11-22, 5-11 Ivy), this 11-7 victory was sandwiched between a doubleheader sweep on Saturday and a series finale defeat yesterday.
Although junior Nathan Ford was an amazing 12-for-17 on the weekend with two runs scored and four RBIs — increasing his team-high batting average to .432 — the Red lost three of four games to Columbia. The losses eliminated the Red from playoff contention.
“For about four consecutive innings [on Saturday], the sixth and seventh of the first game and the first and second of the second game, we just didn’t pitch very well,” said head coach Tom Ford. “I think that unfortunately set the tone for everything else. … The story of the weekend was that four inning stretch, where we just didn’t pitch like we we’re capable of.”
After holding Columbia (16-22, 11-5) off the scoreboard in the first five innings while issuing only one hit, sophomore lefty Matt Hill surrendered a two-run lead, allowing three earned runs. The Lions took a 3-2 advantage with one out in the sixth on a two-run double by junior third baseman Mike Roberts.
The Lions roared ahead to a 7-2 lead in the top of the seventh on a grand slam by freshman leadoff hitter Nick Cox. Squandering a golden opportunity in its final at-bat, the Red left the bases loaded as freshman designated hitter Mickey Brodsky popped up to end the comeback bid. Columbia captured the opener by a 7-2 margin.
After being touched for seven runs in the last two innings of the opener, Cornell pitching was tagged for six more runs in the first two innings of the nightcap. Freshman Corey Pappel was dispatched after just 1 1/3 innings. However, the defeats cannot be attributed solely to poor pitching performances, according to Ford.
“To be honest, I don’t worry too much how it affects the team,” Ford said. “Whether they’re pitching well or not, hitters have to hit. Everybody has to do their job. If we have a pitcher who’s running into trouble, then we have to do something to score more runs. In the first game [yesterday], it looked like things were slipping away from us, and then all of sudden we knocked out a good pitcher. Obviously, you would like to have your pitchers go out and give you quality starts, but it doesn’t always happen.”
Although the Red plated six runs in the second game on Saturday, Columbia snuck by with an 8-6 win. Ford had a two-run single and freshman Jadd Schmeltzer knocked a two-out solo shot to left. Brodsky and junior Scott Hardinger also picked up RBIs. Columbia sophomore closer Clay Bartlett recorded his third save of the season when he struck out Hardinger to strand the tying runs on second and third base.
In yesterday’s opener, the Red trailed 5-0 after the first two innings, but began to claw back against the Lions in the third inning, scoring three runs. During the rally, junior left fielder, Domenic Di Ricco recorded the first home run of his collegiate career.
Cornell erased a 7-5 deficit in the fifth inning as senior right fielder Brian Kaufman launched his team-leading fifth home run of the season. Kaufman’s blast was a grand slam that gave the Red the lead for good. Cornell would ultimately hold on for an 11-7 victory.
“I like hitting in the two hole,” Kaufman said. “You’re supposed to get a lot more fastballs, although I didn’t get a lot today. Baseball is kind of a cyclical game. Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. I was down early in the year and now I’m up.”
After the game Kaufman commented on what might have helped him have an impressive 7-for-16 weekend series with four runs scored and five driven in at the plate.
The recent passing of Stephen H. Weiss ’57, former chairman of the Cornell Board of Trustees and first chair of the Weill Cornell Board of Overseers, provided additional motivation and confidence for Kaufman at the plate. The senior frequently welcomed advice and encouragement from this former Board of Trustees member, who frequently attended