Last weekend, Cornell baseball (3-11, 0-3 Ivy) hosted its first Ivy opponent at Hoy Field for the first time since 2019. Despite strong offensive and pitching performances, Harvard ultimately came away with a sweep, including a devastating comeback victory in the third game with a score of 12-11.
In the first game of the doubleheader against Harvard (11-7, 3-0 Ivy), the Crimson started the game off strong, scoring four runs by the top of the third inning. The Red, however, responded with three runs of their own. The scoring went back and forth, with both teams scoring in every inning up to the fifth. By the bottom of the fifth, Harvard led 7-5, but with four innings still left in the game, the Red had a solid chance of making up the deficit.
However, two dueling relief pitchers shut down both offenses from the fifth inning on. Senior reliever Kevin Cushing shut down the Crimson for the remaining outs, recording 4.1 IP while conceding zero runs, and only one hit and one walk. Unfortunately on the other side, Harvard’s reliever matched Cushing in shutting down the Red’s offense for the rest of the game as well. Neither team tacked on more runs from the fifth inning onwards, and the Crimson came away with a 7-5 victory.
“I was just focused on keeping us in the game and giving our offense a chance with how well we’ve been hitting all year,” said Cushing. “Unfortunately we couldn’t get anything going on their guy late in the game.”
In the second game of the doubleheader , the Red’s offense once again held their own, responding to nearly every run Harvard scored. In the sixth, Cornell took the lead on a game-tying two-run home run by freshman infielder Ryan Porter to even the score at three a-piece. The next batter, sophomore second baseman Matt Barnhorst, launched a solo home run that gave the Red its first lead of the series so far. The Red and Crimson went back and forth, and by the end of the eighth inning, Harvard only led by a score of 6-5.
“[Harvard’s] pitching has always been good,” said Jensen. “But I think our offense held their own against their pitching.”
The game remained closely matched through eight innings, however in just one half inning, Harvard erased all of the Red’s great offensive work that had just happened prior. In the top of the ninth, the Crimson scored five runs, three of them unearned, off of freshman reliever Chris Ellison. The offensive barrage in the top ninth brought the final score to an 11-5 loss for Cornell.
“I think they just capitalized on opportunities,” said freshman first baseman Max Jensen. “I don’t think their offense overwhelmed us, but they capitalized when they needed to.”
In the third game, the Red was eager to avoid the sweep, and it seemed like they would for much of the game. The offense steadily built up a cushy lead from the third inning on. In the fifth, Jensen sparked the offense by ripping a three-run double to center to break a 2-2 tie, and by the end of the sixth inning, Cornell led 8-2. The Crimson offense so far had been shut down by Cornell starter, senior Luke Yacinich, who pitched six innings, giving up only two earned runs.
What seemed like a sure victory for the Red, however, quickly turned to heartbreak as Harvard’s offense never relented. The Crimson scored three more runs in the top of the seventh, three more in the eighth, and four more in the ninth to pull off an impressive comeback. Despite Cornell’s best efforts to respond, they only scored three more runs compared to the Crimson’s 10 from the sixth inning on, and Harvard went on to win the game 12-11.
Although the outcome was a three game sweep for the Red, there were many positive moments, both on the offense and pitching sides that the team can build upon moving forward.
“I thought we played well,” Jensen said. “I think we struggled in some moments that let games get away from us, but I think overall we played well and I feel good going into the rest of Ivy League play.”
“The team played well overall,” Cushing echoed. “Our offense put up a lot of runs and our starting pitchers got us into good positions late in games. There were just a few spots where things went wrong for us.”
This weekend, No. 7 Cornell will compete against No. 1 Yale (11-6, 3-0 Ivy) in what statistically seems to be a challenging matchup. However, despite the recent tough losses, the team remains focused on the positives and confident that success will come soon.
“I think all the guys are really aware of where we’re at and we know we can bounce back, especially with the way we played,” Jensen said. “Everybody knows what we need to do and how we’re gonna do it.”
“It’s tough to come out of last weekend without a win, but we know what we need to work on going forward,” Cushing said. “A lot of guys played really well so we just need to keep that going and clean up a few things to be successful this coming weekend.”
Cornell will compete against Yale in a doubleheader this Saturday at Hoy Field, with the first game at 11:30 am and the second game scheduled for 2:30 pm. The final game is set for noon on Sunday.