April 14, 2011

Baseball Looks to Rebound From Tuesday’s Wipeout

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In Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham, the main character, Crash Davis — played by the youthful Kevin Costner — talks to his teammates about the nature of success. In one of the most famous quotes of the movie, he says: “Know what the difference between hitting .250 and .300 is? It’s 25 hits. 25 hits in 500 at bats is 50 points, okay? That means if you get just one extra flare a week … you get a groundball with eyes … you get a dying quail, just one more dying quail a week … and you’re in Yankee Stadium.”

The season thus far for the Cornell baseball team has shown that Crash Davis was not lying. In many ways baseball is a game of chance, and when a few balls don’t bounce the right way, it can often mean the difference between a winning and losing record.

Such was the case in the weekday matchup against LeMoyne (11-22). Burdened by a rough start from sophomore pitcher Mike Kazley, in which he gave up five runs in the first inning, the Red (4-22, 2-6 Ivy League) was unable to dig out of the early hole and lost the first game of the doubleheader in a blowout, 19-3.

The results in the second game were not much better for Cornell. Although the matchup began with a solid effort by freshman pitcher Chris Cruz, who logged three innings of one-hit ball to begin the game, LeMoyne began to pull away in the sixth when sophomore Houston Hawley surrendered four runs to give the Dolphins the lead, 5-1. The Red was unable to respond in the seventh, as outfielder Phil Mullan and infielder Tom D’Alessandro both struck out, leaving runners on first and second to end the game.

“Any day in baseball, stuff can happen,” said junior infielder Frank Hagar. “Our hits just didn’t drop. We had three big shots that were robbed for home runs. The LeMoyne series was not a good indicator of our true potential.”

The Red hopes to turn its season around against a strong squad from Columbia (12-15) when Gehrig Division play begins on Saturday.

“Columbia is in a similar situation as us,” said senior pitcher Corey Pappel. “They are a scrappy team who is looking to get some wins in the Ivy League. We can potentially do very well.”

The team hopes to achieve some of the success it experienced in last year’s trip to Columbia, which ended in a split of the four-game set, 2-2. That series, also served as a springboard for the team’s turnaround in 2010, as the Red played above the .500 mark for the rest of the season.

“The Columbia series last year was a huge turnaround for us,” Pappel said. “We hung in there and finally started getting some quality wins afterward.”

Pappel is confident that the hits will begin to fall and that the pitchers will find their rhythm this weekend, as division play begins with consecutive days of doubleheaders in New York, N.Y., with first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m. on Saturday.

“We’re excited about this weekend,” Pappel said. “These games could really be the spark we are looking for in the season.”

Original Author: Nicholas Rielly