March 10, 2011

Slow Start Provides Lessons for Baseball Squad

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A lopsided run differential in favor of the Red’s opponents, 40-5, over four games last weekend did not leave as sour of a taste in the team’s mouth as one might expect. As the Cornell baseball squad looks to bounce back from the four-loss opening weekend of the 2011 season with three games in the Philadelphia, Pa. area, the Red is convinced it will develop into a contender in the Ivy League by the time conference play begins early next month.Cornell (0-4) first takes the field today against Temple (4-5) in a 1 p.m. game that has been moved to LaSalle’s DeVincent Field due to an anticipation of heavy rain. The Red faces Saint Joseph’s (5-7) in Camden, N.J. tomorrow at 1 p.m. and will wrap up its weekend versus Villanova (4-7) in Plymouth Meeting, Pa. Sunday at 1 p.m. Despite blowout losses to No. 8 Virginia in addition to two closer defeats to Rider, 6-0, 8-2, last weekend, the Red was able to pinpoint many positives from its first outdoor action in 10 months.“I really like the way our pitchers threw,” said third-year head coach Bill Walkenbach ’98. “One of the bright spots was the way [senior pitcher] Jadd Schmeltzer threw against Virginia after struggling through injury last year … The main thing we found out is that we have a lot to work on this year.”Schmeltzer, who also sees time at first base, started the second game against the Cavaliers and worked five innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits and three walks, while striking out three. The righty is scheduled to pitch against the Wildcats on Sunday.“I think I pitched pretty well [last weekend],” Schmeltzer said. “I definitely think that if I had had a couple more starts under my belt like a couple of the pitchers we faced, then I could’ve had a better performance, but overall I think I threw very well on the mound. If the weekend turns out being as is — the weather looks promising — I’ll be throwing Sunday against [Villanova].”Senior starting pitcher Corey Pappel, who was credited with the loss in the season-opener against Rider, will throw against the Owls this afternoon. Senior pitcher Taylor Wood will take the mound against the Hawks tomorrow after allowing seven earned runs in 5.2 innings in the Red’s first game against Virginia.Walkenbach and his players noted the challenge of this weekend’s games, particularly because of unfamiliarity with the opponents.“Last year we were supposed to have a game against Villanova, but we pretty much walked back in during batting practice because of rain,” said sophomore infielder Brenton Peters, who connected on a double in the second game against the Cavaliers.“I’ve never played Temple and we haven’t faced St. Joe’s since head coach Fritz Hamburg took over a couple years ago,” Walkenbach added. “We don’t know a lot about them so we can only gather what we have from scouting reports. I do know that we have to find a way to put more offense on the table.”Schmeltzer believes there are many reasons for optimism on his own team — despite a mere .177 collective batting average thus far — based on the promising performances the Red received from its youngest players last weekend.“I think there’s a lot to take out of last weekend — we have some freshman players who are contributing early,” he said. “[Utility player] Ben Swinford and [corner infielder Ryan Plantier] both had solid performances in their first weekend of college baseball.”Swinford recorded four hits in the four games, while Plantier notched two.“[Swinford and Plantier] showed they’re very capable of playing at this level, and that was good to see,” Walkenbach said.In light of last weekend’s struggles, the Red knows coming together as a group and earning wins will not be an automatic process, according to Peters.“We basically were just making adjustments going from inside to outside,” he said. “We had problems adjusting to the pitchers. Pretty much if we can make adjustments early in the game to get on top of [the opponent’s] starting pitcher, we can get more runs off their bullpen and be more successful.”“Last weekend, there were some signs here and there that we’ll be a pretty good team once we get the ball rolling,” Schmeltzer said.

Original Author: Quintin Schwab