The hometown team returned empty handed this weekend as Cornell baseball dropped all four games in its doubleheaders against Brown and Yale. The games did not come without excitement, however, as the team managed to keep each game within two runs.
The Red (8-13, 2-4 Ivy) had just come off a sweep against Ivy League opponent Harvard (9-17, 2-6), but now sits at the bottom of the Lou Gehrig division with two wins in the conference after a long and hard fought weekend.
“Yeah it was tough,” said head coach Dan Pepicelli. “We got walked off pretty much three times. We are just trying to figure out the back of the bullpen a bit.”
The first and shortest game of the weekend was came against Brown (9-15, 3-5 Ivy), where Cornell almost executed an impressive comeback in the final inning, but fell short 4-2. Brown’s starting pitcher Christian Taugner pitched a full seven innings, picking up the win with 10 strikeouts and only one earned run.
“[Taugner] pitched really well for Brown in game one and beat us, but no real drama there,” Pepicelli said.
A notable low-point of the weekend for Cornell was in the second game against the Bears on Saturday, where the Red’s bullpen struggles came to light. The Red entered the bottom of the eighth inning up by four runs with junior right-hander Tim Willittes — who pitched seven scoreless innings in the game — on the mound.
Willittes, after such a stellar outing, began to struggle and ended up with four earned runs. Then junior right-handed pitcher Scott Soltis came in to save face, but could mend the wound. Solits gave up three more runs and was handed his third loss of the season.
“We just couldn’t hold it,” Pepicelli said. “We did not have enough bullpen.”
The Bears were the easier of the two teams the Red faced over the weekend. It was expected for Cornell to drop both games, nor was it ideal, but the team hoped to bounce back and redeem themselves by beating Yale (11-18-1, 6-2 Ivy).
The road did not get easier for the Red as both games against the Bulldogs went into extra innings, with a total of 21 innings played on Sunday’s doubleheader alone. Cornell lost both, 4-2, and, 9-8, in 10 and 11 innings, respectively.
Cornell ceded a walk-off home run at the end of game one, and surrendered a lead in the bottom of the 11th inning in game two.
“It was a long, long, long day,” Pepicelli said. “It was frustrating.”
Despite what was a lackluster weekend on paper, Cornell is not walking away from these games with their chins down
“The things that are helping us win, we still showed those and that same fight,” Pepicelli said. “We are in it and we were just a couple bullets short this weekend. We just have to get our act together and have some guys step up for us in the back of games and move forward.”
This was not a case of Brown or Yale overpowering the Red in any way. It seemed that things just didn’t go in favor of Cornell on multiple occasions.
“[For] both teams, it was very very even,” Pepicelli said. “I think that’s the Ivy League. They just did a little bit better job than us at the end to win games.
The team at the moment is a bit dinged up, particularly on the pitching staff. Because of this, 10 and 11 innings games, albeit consecutively, can be quite a challenge for the hurlers.
“There are certain parts of the game where we can really show out well, and then other parts where you can tell we are understaffed,” Pepicelli said. “[Extra innings] are exactly what we don’t want. And then we pay the price when we go to extras in game two, and then we are really out of pitching.”
Cornell will have a quick turnaround with an non-conference game against Binghamton (11-17, 7-2 America East) at home Wednesday before a four-game home series against the Columbia (9-18, 3-5 Ivy) next weekend.