March 6, 2013

BASEBALL | Niners Start Season Off Strong

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Cornell baseball has started the spring season on a good foot, with three wins and only one loss to date in the past weekend of play. “The coaching staff has been doing a great job with offseason player development,” senior Spenser Souza said. “This year, Coach Ford placed an emphasis on simplifying approaches at the plate and developing people’s swings, which I think has helped a lot.”The showdown was filled with tight competition as the team faced off against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and St. Peters College for doubleheaders against each team in the University of Maryland Eastern Shore Tournament.“This weekend we played in tough conditions and I think the team adjusted very well.  I have been working with Coach Ford on my swing, and he is so helpful in that category,” sophomore Kevin Tatum said. “I have also been working on my outfield skills since I am playing there now. Getting my strength up is always something that can be worked on, and our trainers here to a great job with that.”The Red is coming off an Ivy League Championship title last season and a run in the tournament that the members hope to replicate this season.“I think championship teams always have two things in common: a concentrated teamwork effort and a tight bond. To this point, this group of guys has done a good job of accomplishing these things,” Souza said.To start the 2013 season and the tournament weekend off, the team headed to face off against the University of Maryland Eastern Shore for the first game in some tough weather conditions to make the game more interesting for both sides.“For me, personally, I would say that I hit a little bit better. Coming out of the gate and with the weather conditions that were going on, pitching wise [was tough]. Mainly, the winds [affected] our hitting [and it] really was not shown how well we did as a team,” senior Brenton Peters said. “I figure I will come around [more] next week. As a team, I think we did really well. We hit the ball well and it just caught up in the air and their outfielders got a lot of the balls that would have been to the fence. I am pretty sure that you will see a spike in the numbers next week.” The Hawks battled in the matchup but the Red took the 5-3 win home after 10 innings, thanks to junior Ryan Plantier who knocked in the winning runs with a two-double to right.Sophomore pitcher Eric Upton got the victory with three scoreless innings of relief. Sophomore pitcher Kellen Urbon snatched his tenth career save for the Red.In the second game of the weekend, Cornell lost to Saint Peter’s, 4-3, in a tight bout. The game started off on the right note with junior Tom D’Alessandro knocking in all of the runs for the entire game. Senior Brenton Peters scored in the sixth inning thanks to a walk and capitalizing on opportunities, putting the Red ahead, 1-0. Peters walked again in the eighth and moved up thanks to a single from sophomore J.D. Whetsel. After a groundout and single from sophomore J.D. Whetsel. After a groundout and a single to the right from D’Alessandro, Cornell grabbed a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the inning. The Peacocks answered to the Red and scored all of the team’s runs in the eighth to make up for the three-run deficit and snatch the game from Cornell’s grasp.In the third game of the tournament, the Red grabbed a win in a rematch against St. Peter’s in a 3-2 showdown on Saturday afternoon. Whetsel knocked in Souza for the winning run as Cornell came from behind to snag the “W.”The game started with Cornell behind by two runs heading into the fourth. The team then scored one run in the fourth, eighth and ninth innings to secure the victory.For the day, sophomore Matt Hall was 3-for-4 with an RBI and was one of five players for the Red with multiple hits in the game.In the Saturday afternoon matchup, sophomore pitcher Nick Busto had his first career weekend start and pitched for six innings. He struck out four with only one walk and the only action for the Peacocks were two runs in the fourth to take a 2-0 lead. Freshman pitcher Michael Byrne got the credit for the win thanks to three innings of scoreless relief with four strikeouts.“Kaufmann, being the veteran starter on the staff, is a gamer and shows how he can be a leader out there on the mound.  I think someone that could surprise you guys is Freshman Michael Byrne,” Tatum said.  “He is a big lefty [who] throws hard and has great pitches to back it up.  He showed this past weekend what he can do on the mound.”On the offensive end, Tatum hit a two-out double in the bottom of the fourth and then scored on Hall’s single to center to give Cornell its first run. The Red tied the game in the eighth with a pair of leadoff singles from Whetsel and Tatum. In the bottom of the ninth, Souza led off with an infield single who was advanced by Peters and then scored on a single form Whetsel.Souza was one of the all-stars for the tournament as he went 2-for-3 with a two-run double in a five-run fourth inning for the Red to take down the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, 6-2, on Sunday. When looking at his own game last season, Souza noted,“Last year there were some holes in my game that prevented me from contributing. I took it upon myself, with the help of the coaching staff and my teammates, to patch up these holes so I could be a contributor this year.”Tatum got the inning started off with a leadoff single followed by Hall with a single and then junior Ben Swinford getting hit by a pitch to load the bases. With three ducks in a row, Plantier drove in Tatum and Hall which allowed Souza to smack his double to push the lead to 4-0 for the Red.Sophomore pitcher Brent Jones earned the win with three scoreless innings in his first time on the mound this season. “The conditions were bad as everybody knew. It was about focusing in that situation like putting it outside my head,” Jones said. “I think we have to keep playing like we were in the last year. Everyone had a certain swagger about them like we were very sure of themselves.”  Sophomore pitcher Roberto Suppa tacked on four innings, only letting up four hits and a pair of walks. He struck out one and the only run put the Hawks back in it, making the score, 5-1.“The last year, some of our major pitchers were underclassmen, freshmen and sophomores. Those guys are moving up obviously. The guys are just going to come in and show their talent level,” Peters said. “The first couple weeks are kind of an audition for when we start Ivy League play. It’s an exciting thing to look forward to with games that matter towards the Ivy League Championship.” The Red grabbed another run in the top of the ninth to put the team up by five thanks to a wild pitch that let Tatum advance to third and to score thanks to Swinford’s RBI groundout.The Red hits the road again next weekend when it plays George Washington in a doubleheader on Saturday and Sunday.“George Washington is a solid team.  We played them last year and we had some close games.  We will be playing at their new field this year, not like last year when we had to play at Catholic University because of their field being renovated,” Tatum said. “There is supposed to be some nice weather there this weekend and I know the team is excited for that.  Our bats got off to a slow start at the beginning of the games this past weekend, so I think if we can jump out to an early lead we will be in good shape.”

Original Author: Haley Velasco