April 5, 2012

BASEBALL | Squad Splits With Canisius

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After giving up an early four-run lead, sophomore infielder Ben Swinford’s RBI double in the top of the seventh inning gave Cornell the victory in the first of two non-conference games with Canisius on Wednesday. In the nightcap, the Griffins handed the Red just its second loss in the last 11 games, 7-3.

Canisius (17-16) plated four runs in the fifth inning of the first game, but the Red was able to fight back in the seventh. Freshman infielder Kevin Tatum started off the late-inning rally with a walk and an advance to second on a wild-pitch. He then came around to score on what would eventually be the winning run on Swinford’s double down the right field line. Tatum scored two of the team’s five runs, and Swinford was 3-3 with 3 RBI’s in the game.

“We’ve had a great influx of young hitters,” said head coach Bill Walkenbach. “When one guy gets hot, it takes pressure off other guys and our offense snowballs from there.”

The Red also got another solid relief appearance from freshman Kellen Urbon. He threw a scoreless bottom of the seventh to close out the game and record his fifth save of the season.

In the second game of the doubleheader, errors plagued the Red. Of the seven runs the Griffins scored, only three were earned. The offense also had no answer for the four different pitchers Canisius put on the mound, as it only recorded three hits.

Last weekend, the baseball team rode sophomore Connor Kaufmann’s no-hitter – the first in 32 years – to a sweep of Dartmouth in the first weekend of Ivy League play. This weekend the Red will head to Providence, R.I. for two games with Brown, and then to New Haven, Conn. for a series with the Yale Bulldogs.

The Bears (4-18, 2-2 Ivy League) are coming off series splits with both Columbia and Penn. They sport a formidable lineup, with five starters batting over .300. Junior infielder Cody Slaughter leads the team at .339 with 13 RBI’s and two long balls. However, Brown’s pitching staff has struggled so far this season. Only two starters have ERAs below seven. Heath Mayo, who has the most wins on the team with two in five starts, sports a 4.50 ERA.

The Red’s offense, though, which has been solid in Ivy League play, will likely be without sparkplug Brian Billigen, who suffered an injury last weekend. Billigen is leading the team in all offensive categories except homeruns.

“We’ve got to remain healthy … It hurts to lose Billigen,” Walkenbach said.

The Bulldogs (6-18, 0-4) have dropped four straight conference games to Columbia and Penn. They are riding on Cale Hanson’s offense to carry them through the deep Ivy league. Hanson is batting a team high .463 and has stolen five bases. On the mound, Pat Ludwig leads the team with a 2.27 ERA, but he has yet to record a win in five starts. Junior Nolan Becker has also started five games, and has a 1-3 record with a 5.54 ERA.

With the possibility of pushing past Princeton and Penn in a three-way tie for first with wins this weekend, the Red is focusing on putting teams away early, according to junior infielder Brenton Peters.

“We need to improve on getting ahead on a team that’s already down,” he said. “We’ve let a couple teams that we got ahead of stay around.”

The Red was guilty of this on Wednesday, when it let the Griffins hang around and come back from a four run deficit to make the game a nail-biter.

“We have to do a better job making sure teams know we’re going to stay ahead and not let them back in the game,” Peters said.

Original Author: Scott Chiusano