April 9, 2012

BASEBALL | Team Sweeps Ivy Foes Brown, Yale in Weekend Road Trip

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Coming out of a split with Canisius on Wednesday, the Red headed on the road for an Ivy bout, playing doubleheaders against Brown on Saturday and Yale on Sunday. The Red entered the weekend well prepared and ready for tough challenges against fellow members of the Ancient Eight.

Cornell (21-6-1, 7-1-0 Ivy League) travelled to Providence, R.I. to sweep Brown (4-19-0, 2-4-0) in a doubleheader. The morning face-off ended in a 10-9 win for the Red, after continuing into extra innings. Cornell ended the day with a the nightcap, finishing off the day with a second win, 12-5, against the Bears.

In the first game, Cornell and Brown were tied, 9-9, forcing the game to continue into 11 innings before Cornell could close and grab the victory. One of the standout players for the game was sophomore Tom D’Alessandro, who hit a three-run homerun and then scored the go-ahead run in the 11th thanks to a perfectly executed bunt, which turned into single. Junior Brenton Peters also helped D’Alessandro move around in the 11th, after successfully laying down a sacrifice bunt, which was followed by a groundout from senior Marshall Yanzinck and a single through the gap by freshman J.D. Whetsel. The combination of the four actions was exactly what the Red needed to snatch the win from the Bears.

“It was crazy. Every time that we put a run on the board, they would come back and respond,” Peters said. “We were able to fend off their spurts. They got their lead-off hitter on nearly every extra inning that we played. With that, usually you score [during] that inning, but we were able to come together and keep them from doing any damage until we put up some runs and shut them out.”

Going into the nightcap, the Red grabbed a second win against Brown, 12-5. During the game, Cornell had 16 hits — its second-highest total in a game this season next to 20 against Delaware State on March 18. Freshman pitcher Brian McAfee improved his record to 4-0 by pitching seven innings, letting up only eight hits which resulted in four runs.

On the offensive front, Peters was a standout for the Red, picking up five hits, along with batters six through nine — including freshman Kevin Tatum, sophomore Ben Swinford, Lee and Whetsel hitting two a piece.

“We come to the field with a certain type of swagger and we expect to win every game,” D’Alessandro said. “Even though the games were close, I always felt like we were going to win because of the type of team we have and the guys we’ve got.”

The Red traveled on Sunday to New Haven, Conn. to compete against Yale (6-22-1, 0-8-0) in a doubleheader. The Red began the first game of the series on top, due in part to Whetsel’s infield single that brought Tatum home from third. Peters than singled to the right side to drive in Swinford and put Cornell on the board early.

Yale finally got one in the fourth and pulled ahead with two more in the sixth — the latter coming unearned on Cornell’s only error of the game. Sophomore Connor Kaufmann pitched into the sixth inning before retiring the mound to junior pitcher Houston Hawley, who recorded the final five outs against the Bulldogs. Hawley increased his personal record to 2-1 for the season. The victory ended a nine-game losing streak for the Red at Yale Field.

“We have excellent hitters throughout the entire lineup, we played excellent defense [and the] pitchers are doing a great job keeping us in the game. Basically, it was a whole team effort that sparked our victory over the past couple of games,” said Peters.

In the second game at Yale Field, Lee was 3-for-5 with a double, which led to him scoring the game’s first run on Yanzick’s double bagger in the third. Yale responded with two runs in the fourth, but Cornell came back to tie the game up on senior Brian Billigen’s solo home run to right in the sixth — his fifth of the season. Billigen hit a two-run triple in the seventh. He was 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI in the game.

The game was tied again after the eighth, leading the Red to the fourth straight game in which Cornell pushed runners across home plate in the final frame. Whetsel reached second on an error, then third on a wild pitch. Yanzick’s bunt single scored Whetsel. After Billigen walked, Cruz hit a single to right to score Yanzick. After entering the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth, D’Alessandro hit a two-run single for additional runs over the Bulldogs.

“This weekend was unreal. I mean we really don’t expect [to sweep the weekend],” he said. “But, we started off with a good comeback win and then we just kept it rolling.”

Cornell is riding a seven-game winning streak heading into Wednesday’s game against Binghamton at Hoy Field. The game kicks off a seven-game home stretch, which includes the start of divisional play and four games against Columbia at home next weekend.

“Every game matters, but I really want to see us beat Columbia and take it to them,” D’Alessandro said. “Everyone on our team is very talented and I feel like the combination of all of us together will help us succeed in the coming weekends.”

Original Author: Haley Velasco