April 13, 2009

Baseball on the Rise in Ancient Eight Standings

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The baseball team rebounded from last weekend’s disappointing losses with an encouraging week of play. Playing within the division for the first time this season, the Red (8-17, 5-7 Ivy) took three of four against the visiting Quakers (11-19, 1-9 Ivy). The strong weekend completed a 4-1 week, which should help erase memories of last weekend’s 0-4 disaster.
On Saturday, Cornell set the tone for the series in a hurry. In the first inning of the series against Penn, 7-of-8 Red batters reached base safely. The Red touched home eight times in the inning. The early lead held up throughout the game as the Red prevailed, 12-5. Senior Scott Hardinger, sophomore Mickey Brodsky and freshman Brian Billigen led the Red offense with three hits each in the game. Sophomore Jadd Schmeltzer struck out eight in six innings to earn his first victory of the season.
Cornell’s only loss of the weekend came in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader. Penn jumped out to a 6-0 lead against junior pitcher Matt Hill. Brodsky, who homered in the game, continued to swing a hot bat, but his three RBIs were not enough to surmount the Quakers’ lead. Hill fell to 1-5 for the season.[img_assist|nid=36786|title=Back in Black|desc=The baseball team returned to the win column in its series with Penn. The Red’s series victory propelled it towards the top of the Gehrig divsion|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Yesterday, Cornell finally found itself on the winning side of two thrillers. Cornell lost two games to Harvard on walk-off plays last Saturday. Eight days later, Cornell won two games with walk-off hits of its own.
In the first half of the doubleheader, Brodsky showed off his pitching arsenal. He pitched a gem for the Red, striking out six, walking none and allowing two runs, one of which was unearned, in 6 1/3 innings.
Cornell scored in the first inning when Billigen, a speedy rookie outfielder, stole home on a wild pitch. The Quakers quickly replied to tie the game, but the Red regained the lead on a home run shot from junior Matt Langseth’s bat. Penn, however, tied up the game again in the fourth. After Penn’s second run, a pitching duel ensued.
Penn escaped after a series of walks to send the game into extra innings. Junior closer David Rochefort pitched 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief for Cornell. With the game still knotted at 2 in the ninth, Billigen reached base again, this time on a two-base error. Senior Nathan Ford ripped a walk-off single into left field that plated Billigen and clinched a 3-2 Cornell victory.
In the final game of the weekend, the Red snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Cornell trailed throughout the game and found its back against the wall late. In the bottom of the ninth, the Red was down to its final out while trailing 4-2 with one runner on base. Billigen came through in the clutch with an RBI double that saved the Red. Hardinger stepped to the plate next and fell behind 0-2. With the team down to its final strike, Hardinger battled for several pitches and eventually drew a walk. Two pitches later, Nathan Ford had his second heroic hit of the day. The senior connected for a walk-off home run that snuck over the right field fence. The three-run blast helped Cornell to a 6-4 victory.
“I’m exhausted right now from just screaming my head off. The exact opposite happened to us last weekend, so to get it back was awesome,” Billigen said after the game. “[Ford’s home run] was so close to not going out, but we finally got a break today. I couldn’t believe it”
Schmeltzer was just as excited.
“I can’t believe how amazing [Sunday’s] games were. Nate Ford really stepped up today. He was the man,” Schmeltzer said. “Today proved to us that no matter what the situation is, we have the ability to come through and win big games.”
The Red is now one game behind Columbia for first place in the Ivy League’s Gehrig division.
“[The three wins] really saved us in the standings,” Billigen said. “If Columbia loses both games [against Princeton], we’re in a three-way tie at the top of the division.”
Cornell will travel to New York City to face the Lions this coming weekend. Depending on the results of the series, the Red could storm to the top of the standings.