April 23, 2008

Siena Edges Past Red To Sweep Both Games

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It was déjà vu all over again, to quote noted Yankee philosopher Yogi Berra, for the baseball squad during yesterday’s twinbill as it suffered back-to-back identical 2-1 losses against Siena at Hoy Field.
In the final inning of Game 1, with two runners in scoring position and only one out, Cornell (11-24, 5-11 Ivy) had an opportunity to earn its second walk-off victory of the season at home. However, the Red was left anticipating what could have been as junior pinch hitter Kyle Groth struck out looking on a full count and sophomore center fielder Nate David was retired on a groundout to second base to end the game.
“The way I am, that game is over and let’s get on to the next one,” said head coach Tom Ford. “Certainly, it’s a mental game and it’s a game of failure. As that stuff happens, I’m not sure what happens to your mindset. Obviously, it must have some effect. Stemming back to Saturday’s games, in those situations we just haven’t come through. We need to come through in those situations. We can talk about it all we want, but until we actually come through a couple of times that’s the way it is.”
In his second collegiate start, freshman left-handed pitcher Mickey Brodsky tossed an impressive six innings of five-hit ball, walking two batters while fanning five. Although the California native surrendered only two runs, he was saddled with the loss as Siena sophomore southpaw Craig Marcellus effectively stifled the Red’s offense in the pitchers’ duel. Marcellus threw six innings, permitting a mere three hits, two walks and one earned run.
“It was good to have a better start than my last one in which I got hit around a little bit,” Brodsky said. “This start helps out my confidence a little bit. I did make a few mistakes and on a day like today, you have to almost be perfect. It was the kind of game where one run was going to win it and I made a couple of mistakes that I wish I could have back.”
Junior right fielder Eric Mruczek provided all the offense the Saints (16-23, 7-8 MAAC) would need, knocking in senior third baseman Jacob Willis on a RBI single to right field in the fourth and plating Willis again on another RBI single down the leftfield line in the sixth for his 12th and 13th RBIs this season.
“[Mruczek] was a good hitter,” Brodsky said. “He went after my first pitch both times. I tried to mix it up, but he was a good hitter. Sometimes, you just have to give them credit.”
The Red responded with its only run of the contest in the bottom of the sixth inning as sophomore third baseman Jerry Vitiello led off the frame with a double down the left field line. After junior left fielder Domenic Di Ricco advanced Vitiello to third on a groundout to second base, junior shortstop Scott Hardinger recorded his 19th RBI of the season with a one-out single to left. Unfortunately, for the Red, the comeback was short circuited when junior catcher Nathan Ford grounded into a double play to end the inning. [img_assist|nid=30138|title=Play at the plate|desc=Senior outfielder Brian Kaufman (3) slides past Columbia’s catcher in an 8-6 loss to the Lions.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“I hope they felt like, ‘Hey, we just got a run. Now, let’s go win this thing,’” Ford said. “Obviously, we ran ourselves out of the inning that inning. Again, it can be a snowball effect in either direction. Unfortunately, we don’t have it going in the right direction at this point.”
In his first collegiate start for Cornell, in the backend of the doubleheader, freshman right-handed hurler Jadd Schmeltzer was plagued by control issues throughout the contest. Schmeltzer completed three innings while permitting two hits, two walks and hitting four Siena batters. After plunking junior left fielder Nick Messinger to lead off the fourth inning, Schmeltzer was replaced by fellow freshman Dan Lea, who allowed the inherited runner to score on a RBI single from sophomore rightfielder Anthony Giansanti.
The Red knotted the game at one in the bottom of the fifth when senior right fielder Brian Kaufman pulled an RBI double down the right field line with one out. Di Ricco was chased home from second on the hit and Kaufman was thrown out at third attempting to stretch the double into a triple. It was the second time in the inning that a Cornell runner was called out at third. Earlier, junior catcher Eddie Timpano was tagged out at third on a fielder’s choice hit to senior shortstop Chris Klepps.
“Maybe we didn’t use the best judgment, but that’s baseball,” Ford said. “I would rather have them trying to do something than being passive. I think that stems from maybe trying to do a little bit too much because we haven’t been getting the hits and those things happen. That’s when we’re trying to take everything under control and maybe not playing as we should. Maybe that’s where you’re trying a little bit too hard and you do things a little bit out of character.”
In the top of the seventh inning, Giansanti bounced a high-hopper over Ford’s head at third base for a single that was barehanded by Hardinger, who was unable to throw out the runner from deep in the hole. Giansanti stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Timpano. With one out, senior Walker Toma entered the game for Lea and gave up a single to Klepps up the middle through the drawn-in infield. Giansanti crossed the plate for the winning run on Klepps’ 18th RBI of the year.
Senior lefty Tom Hopkins recorded the final out in both contests to earn consecutive saves for the Saints. They were Hopkins’ first saves of the season.
Nathan Ford’s consecutive hit streak ended at 14 games after going hitless in Game 2 for the Red. Ford paces the team with a .420 batting average and hit .463 (25-for-54) during the hitting streak.
“This year, I’ve definitely been working on throwing the hands quicker,” Ford said. “Last year, I would swing more with my shoulders and pull out, but I have definitely quickened up my swing, so it’s more consistent and that’s probably what helped my streak. Other than that, just working on my swing everyday and seeing the ball pretty well probably helped my streak.”