May 3, 2010

Baseball Ends Ivy League Play

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In the team’s final weekend of conference play, the baseball team (17-20, 9-11 Ivy) took of three of four games against Princeton to notch its first weekend with a winning record of the season. The Red had taken two of four games each of the past two weekends, but the team’s three wins this weekend gave Cornell its first three-win weekend of the year.

“I think we played some of the best baseball we played this whole season,” said sophomore third basemen Frank Hager. “We pitched well, hit well, and played good defense.”

On Friday, the Red swept a pair of games from the visiting Tigers. Junior Corey Pappel pitched a gem in the first game, during which he struck out six and allowed two runs while pitching into the eighth inning. His counterpart, Princeton’s Dan Barnes, was even better and struck out 11 while walking none, but he too allowed two runs.

Thus, the game was decided by the bullpens. In Cornell’s case, that’s usually a good thing. Senior closer Dave Rochefort has been nearly untouchable the last two years and he was his usual self on Friday. He struck out three batters and gave Cornell’s offense a chance to win by not allowing a run after replacing Pappel. Junior Mickey Brodsky secured the win with a walk-off home run in the ninth inning. That blast, which followed senior Matt Langseth’s leadoff hit, gave Cornell a 4-2 victory.

In the second half of Friday’s doubleheader, Cornell pitching came through with another outstanding performance. Senior Tony Bertucci pitched eight innings, struck out ten batters, walked no one, and allowed just two runs, only one of which was earned. Cornell’s three, four and five hitters –– Brodsky, Hager and senior outfielder Nate David, respectively –– provided most of Cornell’s offense in tallying two hits each. The trio scored five runs and combined for the Red’s first four RBI of the game. Sophomore shortstop Marshall Yanzick gave the Red a cushion with a three-run blast in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Red won the game 7-3.

“[Our pitching] was unreal this weekend,” Hager said. “[Pappel] and Bertucci kept up what they’ve been doing the whole season. Then we had great outings from Matt Hill and [Brian] Billigen [two of Sunday’s pitchers] and [Rochefort] was dominant as he always is.”

Saturday was a travel day as the series between Cornell and Princeton shifted to New Jersey. Early in Sunday’s games, it appeared both teams left their pitching in Ithaca. In Sunday’s opener, the Red jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, only to fall behind 3-2 in that very inning.  Cornell re-established a two-run lead with a three-run second inning, only to watch the Tigers tie the game in the -bottom of the inning. Cornell’s bat finally went silent in the third, but Princeton tallied three more runs to take an 8-5 lead. Cornell eventually plated two in the fifth, but Princeton’s early offensive outburst proved to be the difference. The final score was 8-7 in favor of the Tigers. Princeton’s Brian Berkowitz had five RBI on two home runs in the game.

In its final conference game of the season, the Red cruised to victory in Sunday’s finale. The Red jumped out to a lead, 6-0, and held on for a victory despite allowing four runs in the fifth. Cornell tacked on two insurance runs to secure a victory, 8-4.

The Red finished its conference schedule with a 9-11 record. That record placed the team sixth in the conference and third in the Gehrig division –– a division Cornell won in 2009.

“It’s disappointing that we’re not going to be playing this weekend,” Hager said of this weekend’s Ivy League championship series. “We just didn’t put it all together at the right time this year. We started playing our best ball with two weeks left in the season against Columbia and Princeton. It would have been nice if we clicked earlier in the season.”

Original Author: Zack Slabotsky