It took eight innings, but the Red was finally able to plate four runs in the top of the ninth against Albany (5-16-1) on Tuesday, propelling the team to its fourth consecutive victory, 5-2. After being held to just one run until the final inning, the Red’s offense came alive at just the right time.
“It all started with one guy getting a base knock, and then hits started going our way,” said senior captain and catcher Brandon Lee. “Hitting is contagious.”
Albany ace Aaron Chase left the Red (13-4-1) offense silent for eight innings before running into trouble in the ninth.
“By that time we were used to what he threw and how he threw it since we had already seen him three or four times,” Lee said.
Senior infielder Frank Hager started off the rally with a hit by pitch and a stolen base. Freshman infielder Kevin Tatum then drove him in with a single up the middle, and another single by Lee put him safely on third. With the bases loaded after freshman catcher Matt Hall drew a walk, sophomore infielder Tom D’Alessandro came up big with a single down the left field line that plated two more. To cap off the five-run inning, junior leadoff hitter Brenton Peters singled to center to bring in Hall.
The Red’s productive offense carried into the second game of the doubleheader against the Great Danes, as it jumped to a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Sophomore Chris Cruz started off the inning with a single, and after advancing to third on a bunt and an infield single, Cruz scored on a groundout to give the Red the lead.
Going into the fifth inning, the score was tied, 1-1. However, senior outfielder Brian Billigen kicked off another rally with an RBI triple — extending his hitting streak to 16 games. He then scored on Cruz’s sacrifice fly.
The Great Danes came right back with two runs of their own off freshman reliever Nick Busto. With the score once again tied, 3-3, the game was called due to darkness.
“It’s unfortunate because we had momentum,” Lee said.
Despite only picking up one win on the day, the victory was the Red’s thirteenth of the season — already three more than the team had at the end of last season.
“It’s not really something we’ve thought of, but looking back we’re fortunate to be doing better than last year,” Lee said. “But you can’t really live in the past in baseball, we’ve kind of just flushed out what happened last season.”
With the woes of a disappointing season now a distant memory, the Red prepares to kick off Ivy play this weekend, with two doubleheaders against Harvard and Dartmouth.
Last year, the Red dropped two games to Dartmouth, the eventual Ivy League runners up. One loss came in extra innings off a walkoff single after a lengthy pitcher’s duel.
“Dartmouth comes with a solid club year in and year out, but they lost some pitchers that have been in their rotation for a few years now,” Lee said.
The Green (3-10) lost ace Kyle Hendricks, who was 5-3 last season with a 2.47 ERA. However, a large part of the explosive offense that is characteristic of Dartmouth’s team is returning. Ennis Coble returns as a junior and has continued to put up big numbers. As a sophomore, Coble hit .361 and drove in 40 runs. This year he is leading the team at .326. Senior Joe Sclafani, who hit .349 with 34 RBI’s last season, also returns.
“They’re a team that is always tough and always competitive,” Lee said.
Harvard (2-16) has played some tough competition already this season, including No. 7 Arizona and No. 19 Stetson. The Crimson offense is led by infielder Carlton Bailey, who is batting .346, and Brent Suter and Joey Novak are at the heads of the staff with 3.47 and 2.55 ERA’s, respectively.
According to Lee, though, the Crimson is an unpredictable team.
“Harvard’s a team that you’re not always sure what you’re going to see,” he said. “But we expect to go in and take two wins from them.”
Original Author: Scott Chiusano