April 22, 2008

Cornell Looking For Wins in Season Finale

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In the first game of the 2008 season, the baseball team snatched a one-run victory, 1-0, from Siena in Charlottesville, Va. This afternoon, in a doubleheader at Hoy Field, Cornell will face this familiar foe in its final non-league contest. Going into the last weekend of Ivy competition, today’s doubleheader offers a chance for the Red (­­­11-22, 5-11 Ivy) to go full circle against the Saints (14-23, 7-8 MAAC).
After losing 3-of-4 against Columbia this past weekend and seeing its chances in the Ancient Eight plummet, the Red will also be looking for some redemption this afternoon.
“We’re still upset about the losses over the weekend and how we could have changed the whole league around,” said freshman Jadd Schmeltzer, “but we want to show that [after losing] we can come back and be victorious.” [img_assist|nid=30108|title=Choices, choices|desc=Freshman Mickey Brodsky makes his move during a 7-2 home loss to Columbia on April 19.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Against the Saints, the Red has played two games this year, with very different results. After the 1-0 win, Cornell played Siena a second time in the UVA tournament on March 2 and went into the bottom of the second down 7-1.
Brodsky hit his first collegiate home run in that game, but the Red’s comeback ultimately fell short and the Saints took the win, 8-5. Giving up the lead early and falling just short has been one of the Red’s main concerns since then.
“We haven’t been winning close games,” said head coach Tom Ford. “We’ve got to pay attention to details. In these last six games [of the season], I wish we had six weeks more. Our goal is to keep improving … and keep the mistakes to a minimum, which we did pretty well over the weekend for the most part.”
Siena, on the other hand, has another month of games left before the MAAC tournament begins. Before losing to Canisius on Sunday on a walk-off homer, 10-9, the Saints were riding a five-game winning streak. It was easy for Ford to pick out today’s key matchups.
“We played [Siena] twice in our first week of the season down at the University of Virginia,” he said. “The biggest thing we have to do is hold their bats down. They’re a very good offensive team … so we’ve got to pitch well.”
In that 1-0 win Feb. 29 in Virginia, the Red relied on the strong pitching of a freshman phenom making his debut — Corey Pappel (2-4 in eight starts). Today, the Red will again draw on its stable of rookie hurlers, with freshmen Jadd Schmeltzer and Mickey Brodsky starting for the home team.
Known for his bat, Brodsky (with his .337 batting average, good for third on the team) will start for the Red in Game 1. Though he has primarily played first base for the Red, Brodsky (0-1) has had only one start so far in seven appearances—an 11-7 loss at Brown April 5. He came on in relief over the weekend, facing three batters each in the Red’s 8-6 loss to Columbia on Saturday and 11-7 win over Columbia on Sunday, letting just one man get on base on Sunday.
In the second game of the afternoon, Schmeltzer will make his first career start at Cornell. With three appearances on the mound, he has seen less time in games because he has been recovering from an arm injury sustained early in the year.
“I’ve pitched a lot, it’s just been in a lot of bullpens,” Schmeltzer said. “But the coaches and I feel that my arm is about 100 percent [now]. … [Today] I need to be able to keep the ball in the zone and rely on the defense behind me, because the defense has been really good, so I need to take advantage of that not having pitched as much [because of the injury].”
Schmeltzer threw after Sunday’s games and heard yesterday morning that he would get the start today. Being thrust into the spotlight suddenly, the rookie is relying on experience instead of over-thinking or last-minute adjustments.
“I’ve seen a lot of very good players throughout my time pitching,” he said, “so I just approach pitching the same way whether [the batters are from] Harvard, Yale, Brown or Siena.”