With an overall record of 14-23, Cornell baseball’s 2019 season was a statistically unimpressive one — but the game of baseball is more than just numbers, wins and losses.
From the start, the Red (8-13 Ivy League) faced unforgiving opponents both in and out of Ivy League play. Despite these challenges, the team fought up until the very last inning of each game — and within conference play, the Red only suffered one series sweep at the hands of Brown.
The beginning of the season was marked by inconsistent offense, only to be replaced with a streak of success in the final two conference series of the season.
The trend of clutch performances as the game got down to the wire was evident in the two most recent one-run victories for the Red.
Recall April 28, when senior catcher Will Simoneit faced a full count with two outs and the tying runs on base in the bottom of the ninth, down by two runs. He clocked a homer over the left field wall for a walk-off, series-clinching victory over Penn on his senior day.
Then on May 4 at Dartmouth, junior John Natoli got the call to pitch to one batter in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and the tying run in scoring position. Three strikes later, the Red secured their fifth win in a row and second series victory of the season.
The quality of the victories and consistent effort from the entire team served as an important takeaway from the season.
“This year will go down for me as just a group that just did not quit,” said Head Coach Dan Pepicelli.
The Red’s five-game winning streak from April 27 to May 4 lifted the team’s spirits at the tail end of the season.
“Sometimes the big success stories are when you don’t quit and just keep grinding away at the season and get something for yourself at the end,” Pepicelli said.
Ultimately, Cornell succeeded this year in finding an offensive lineup with hot bats, steady defensive players and commanding pitchers.
In the Dartmouth series, the Red boasted a home run and several multiple-base hits, only one error the entire weekend, and stellar lights-out starts and relief pitching.
Seniors Adam Saks, Will Simoneit and Josh Ardnt connected for base hits throughout the series and junior Matt Collins launched a homer in game one.
Pepicelli’s defensive highlight of the weekend is that the team “turned a lot of double plays, when that opportunity was there we really jumped on it.”
Both junior RHP Colby Wyatt and freshman RHP Jon Zacharias commanded the mound for at least six dominant innings into their respective starts on Saturday, May 4.
With the 2019 Ivy League play wrapped up, and one final away game versus St. Bonaventure University on Tuesday, May 7, Cornell looks towards the offseason to improve both individually and collectively.
“What we really need to do is just improve … to take the next step,” Pepicelli said. “And I think it’s just a matter of finding the right fit where we can be more dangerous and more consistent on offense.”