April 29, 2010

Baseball Avenges Loss With Win Vs. Bearcats

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The baseball team was in Vestal, N.Y. yesterday afternoon, kicking off the season’s final week of play with a one-game series against the Binghamton Bearcats. It was the first meeting between the two teams since the sixth of April, when the Red (13-20, 6-10 Ivy) rallied from a 9-2 deficit only to lose in heartbreaking fashion, 10-9, in 12 innings. This time around, Cornell made sure not to get down early, scoring 12 runs in the first six innings to storm past the Bearcats, 12-8.

As it did in the previous meeting between the two teams, Binghamton (16-18, 7-3 America East) claimed an early lead yesterday when Corey Taylor lifted a pitch from Cornell starter Matt Hill into the wind and over the fence to put the Bearcats on top, 3-0.

“[Taylor] kind of just put one up in the wind and hit it out,” said senior centerfielder Nate David. “From there we had a feeling that it was going to be a high scoring game.” David was right to feel this way and scored the Red’s first run in the top of the second when junior catcher Mike Lopez doubled into the right-centerfield gap. An RBI groundout by sophomore right fielder Brian Billigen plated one more run and the Red pulled within one, 3-2.

After Hill shut down the side in the bottom half of the second inning, it was Lopez once again providing the spark for the Red in the third. With freshman left fielder Spenser Souza and senior short-stop Jerry Vitiello on first and second with two down in the inning, Lopez sent a pitch from Robert Rodgers over the right-field wall for his second career homerun and the Red’s first lead of the game.

“I was just seeing the ball well,” Lopez said. “With runners in scoring position I was just trying to put the bat on the ball as well as I could.”

From that point forward it was all Cornell, as the Red went on to score seven more runs over the next three innings to take a 12-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth.

In the fourth inning, back-to-back RBI singles by senior designated hitter Kyle Groth and Nate David were followed by an RBI line by Souza as the Red posted three runs on four hits. The production continued into the fifth, as a two-run double by Vitiello capped off the third straight three-run inning for Cornell. Billigen hit his fourth homer of the season in the sixth, a solo shot, and the Red built an insurmountable lead over the Bearcats. In total, the Red racked up 13 hits on the afternoon with six players posting multi-hit performances.

“We did a really good job today of stringing hits together,” said Lopez, who finished 2-6 with 4 RBI. “We just kept building off of each other. It was a really positive day for everybody.”

Not only did the Cornell hitters fill the box score in the first five innings, but so did the team’s starting pitcher. After a shaky first inning in which he walked three and gave up three hits, Hill settled in nicely and pitched four hitless innings to earn his third victory of the season. The senior pitcher finished with three earned runs, four walks, and three strikeouts on the afternoon.

“[Hill] was pretty frustrated with that first inning,” said Lopez, who caught Hill all afternoon. “He cooled down though and…started throwing the way he normally does. His off-speed stuff was breaking well, he was throwing a hard fastball on the corners, and he was virtually unhittable after that first inning. It was a pretty impressive comeback and definitely the reason we won today.”

While Cornell got a great outing from Hill, the Bearcats took a different approach: throwing eight pitchers on the afternoon, none of which lasted more than two innings. The strategy may have been effective in getting the pitching staff some work before heading into the weekend, but it was certainly not effective in keeping Cornell off the scoreboard.

Although Binghamton never truly threatened the Red after the game’s first inning, the Bearcats did make the score respectable with a late inning surge against Cornell’s relief pitchers.

After scoring a run in both the bottom of the sixth and the bottom of the seventh, the Bearcats posted three runs on four hits in the bottom of the ninth before Jim Calderone popped out to Brenton Peters to end the game.

With the season series against Binghamton wrapped up, Cornell will turn its attention to Princeton as it looks to conclude its 2010 season on a high note. The four-game series will open on Friday with a double-header beginning at 12 p.m. The final two games will be played on Sunday starting at the same time.

“I hate Princeton, I think everyone does,” said David, a senior who will be playing his final Ivy League games this coming weekend. “It’d be nice to go out there and win four games and finish at .500 in the Ivy League.”

Princeton (11-27, 5-11), like the Red, finds itself out of playoff contention heading into the final weekend of Ivy League play.

Freshman John Mishu and senior Noel Luna-Gonzales are the only two players hitting above .300 on the team, with Mishu hitting .317 with 5 homers and 21 RBI on the season and Luna-Gonzales hitting .308 with no homers and 22 RBI. Starting pitcher Dan Barnes leads the Tigers with a 5.71 ERA, while freshman Zak Hermans leads the team in wins with 3.

Original Author: Dan Froats