The Cornell baseball team continued its successful start to the season with two rebound-wins over the weekend at the Spider Invitational in Richmond, Va. After dropping a close game in extra innings to Richmond, strong pitching propelled the Red to victories over Campbell and Michigan St.
On Friday, every player in Cornell’s (6-3, 0-0 Ivy) starting lineup produced at least one hit. The offensive explosion was enough to give the Red a six run lead after the top of the second. Sophomore catcher Will Simoneit blasted a home run, while junior infielder Trey Baur and senior first baseman Cole Rutherford each drove in two runs to contribute.
Senior pitcher Tim Willittes surrendered four runs over five innings, but left the game with a 6-4 lead after a fifth inning shutout. Nonetheless, Richmond battled back and eventually tied the game to send it into extra innings.
In the 10th inning, Cornell failed to knock in another run, and Richmond scored in the bottom half to secure the 7-8 victory and complete the comeback.
“Any time you jump out to a lead like that you expect to finish the game with the win,” said head coach Dan Pepicelli. “That wasn’t the result we wanted and our pitching has to come through late in that situation.”
After the disappointing end to Friday’s game, Cornell pitching bounced back on Saturday. Junior pitcher Justin Lewis was consistent throughout the game and worked his way around a tough Campbell lineup. The crafty left-hander worked through seven innings, in which he gave up just three hits. However, a pair of errors in the first inning led to a 1-0 lead for Campbell. The Camels increased the lead to 2-0 after six, but Lewis stayed poised.
Freshman outfielder Kaled Lepper came through with a single up the middle that allowed junior outfielder Pierre Le Dorze to score, cutting the eighth inning lead to one.
In the final inning, Campbell pitched his way into a jam, and after Cornell scored the tying run, senior outfielder Frankie Padulo was walked with the bases loaded to score a run that ended up being the game-winner for the Red. Senior pitcher Scott Soltis secured the win in his relief appearance for Lewis.
“I thought Justin and Scott did a good job of keeping hitters off balance on Saturday,” Pepicelli said.
On Sunday, sophomore infielder Josh Arndt’s second inning double drove in two runs and ultimately provided enough run support for Paul Balestrieri to capture the 2-1 win over Michigan St.
Balestrieri now has three wins on the season. Fellow senior pitchers Matt Horton and Peter Lanoo prevented the Spartans from mounting a comeback in later innings.
“I thought the team cleaned things up in the last two games and pitching was a big part of that,” Pepicelli said. “Paul has been pitching well for us so far and we need that to continue in the coming games and in Ivy League play.”
Cornell will hit the road this weekend with a four game slate at Bucknell.
“We’ve been playing solid baseball as of late,” Pepicelli said. “The team has a lot of confidence and is excited to continue improving. Right now we need to focus on generating more consistency and continue to build on our confidence.”