This past weekend, the men’s baseball team hit the road and picked up its first win and first series win of the season against Coppin State University. The Red swept the doubleheader on Saturday, 11-7 and 14-5, but dropped the final game on Sunday, 2-21.
In their first series of the season, the team faced an undefeated University of Virginia (12-0), who is currently ranked fifth nationally by Baseball America. The Cavaliers dominated all three games, sweeping the Red 24-9, 17-2 and 19-1. The series was the first competition the team had faced in nearly two years, as the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the 2021 season and most of the 2020 season.
“COVID taking away two seasons from us has been very difficult,” said junior third-baseman Joe Hollerbach. “However, we have done a great job staying motivated and trusting one another through this tough time. We are super pumped to be competing again and are optimistic about this season.”
Despite a rocky start to the season, they looked to bounce back this past weekend against Coppin State University (3-8).
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Red came out strong. They scored four runs in the second inning, another in the sixth and three more runs in the seventh. By the seventh inning, with the pitching holding it down and the offense putting up eight runs, the game seemed to be a sure win for the Red.
However, the Eagles did not go down without a fight. Cornell’s starting pitcher, senior Luke Yacinich, was one out away from giving up no runs across seven innings. But, in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, CSU scored two runs on an RBI single, leaving his final line at 2 ER over 6.2 IP.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Eagles scored five more runs, courtesy of two RBI singles and a home run, bringing the score to 8-7. They nearly completed a comeback, but in the top of the ninth, the Red answered with three more insurance runs, eventually winning the game 11-7.
In the nightcap, CSU opened the game scoring three runs in the top of the first. However, after the first, the Red’s pitching quickly settled down and gave up no runs until the bottom of the eighth. In particular, the strong performance by starting pitcher junior Spencer Edwards allowed the offense to get the team back into the game, as he only gave up 2 ER over 6 IP.
The Red scored five runs in the top of the fifth, via an RBI single and a 3-run homerun by Hollerbach, who quickly became the star of the weekend. Hollerbach’s performance in the second game propelled the Red’s offense to score a total of 14 runs in a dominant 14-5 win.
Not only did Hollerbach record 4 RBI, 2 runs, and a walk in the second game, but he also hit for the cycle, making him the first Cornellian in at least ten years to complete the feat. Over the three-game series, Hollerbach went 9-13, hit two homeruns, recorded six RBI and stole three bases, giving him the title of Ivy League Baseball Player of the Week for his impressive performance. He also currently ranks fourth nationally with a .542 batting average.
“The team did a good job competing this weekend, and it’s a great feeling to win our first game in almost two years,” Hollerbach said. “As a team, we have a lot of talented pitchers and position players, but we also have a lot of room to grow.”
The Red went on to drop the final game of the series, as the pitching gave up 21 runs and the offense failed to muster any momentum, scoring only two runs.
“Unfortunately, injuries have hurt our team, and specifically our pitching staff,” Hollerbach said. “Once these players can return to the field, we will be excellent in all aspects of the game, whether hitting, pitching, or defense.”
With their pitching staff taking a hit, the Red was forced to use eight different pitchers in the third game to cover the nine innings, with no pitcher pitching more than two innings.
“We did not play up to our best potential this weekend,” Hollerbach continued. “But I am confident that we will be in a great spot once Ivy League games roll around, with a bit of time and more competition.”
Looking ahead, the Red will face No. 24 University of Maryland (10-2) and Georgetown (8-4) next weekend, and University of Richmond (8-3) the weekend after, before returning home to face off against Harvard (4-3), their first Ivy opponent, on March 26th and 27th.