Baseball falls to Boston College

by Gayne Kalustian | 4/9/15 6:01pm

4.10.15.sports.baseball2_Annie.Duncan
Chris England ’15 prepares to deal in Tuesday’s game against Boston College.
Source: Annie Duncan

A loss assigned to a pitcher is — in a perfect world — supposed to indicate fault. At times the loss can be telling of a pitcher’s performance, but it can also be a misleading statistic — a sting felt by no one more than Chris England ’15 last Tuesday after taking the start against Boston College.

The Big Green ultimately dropped the game 2-0 to the Eagles, but fault in this case goes beyond the simple winning and losing pitching record as England, in 6.1 innings, allowed two runs — one earned.

“You just go out there and you try and pitch well every time,” England said. “Obviously, I would have liked the win. I know I pitched pretty well, but I could have done more and not given up those runs. So you still feel a little salty about the loss, no matter how you pitched. If the team doesn’t win, it’s a loss for everyone.”

The game started off slowly for both teams — each team notched a hit within the first two innings, but both were wiped off the board by double plays. Joe Purritano ’16, the designated hitter who began the season with a strong start, struck out looking to close the first inning, going down to three in a row on the outside corner of the strike zone.

The first base-runner to pose a threat in the game came from the Eagles in junior Chris Shaw, whose .318 batting average going into the game was overshadowed by an unreal slugging percentage of .692 — making him the biggest threat on the diamond among either team.

With one out, Shaw found himself on third base in the top of the second, moved over by a bunt and then a passed ball by Big Green catcher Kyle Holbrook ’18. Shaw, on a ground out to first, became the first run of the game — unearned — before England could strike out Joe Cronin for the final out. Shaw became a threat yet again in the top of the fourth as he smacked a double down the first baseline before finding third again — though this time with two outs.

England, looking to snuff out the scoring opportunity, threw two consecutive balls, though his next pitch would fly lazily out to Nick Ruppert ’16 in center field to neutralize the threat and keep the game within one run.

After five shutout innings, the Eagles pulled pitcher Nick Poore and sent out Luke Fernandez, a sophomore right-hander, who retired three in a row to close the sixth inning.

In the top of the seventh, Shaw struck again, grounding a single through to right field. England struck out the next batter on seven pitches before Chris Burkholder ’17 was called to the rubber, inheriting Shaw on first and giving up a single to Stephen Sauter with one out. A double to the left field corner pushed Shaw across and left two runners in scoring position.

Burkholder struck out the next batter before a line out ended the inning. Holbrook, sitting behind the plate for the first time in the Green and White, made two critical stops to hold the runners in their positions during the outing. Holbrook has primarily played in the outfield for the Big Green but he also caught in high school — though, he said, he has no preference between the positions. Adam Frank ’15 finished the final two frames on the mound, allowing no hits and a single walk. Against the four pitchers the Eagles put on the mound, Dartmouth collected only two hits and two walks.

Dartmouth’s offense has struggled mightily in recent games, as the Big Green have been shut out in three of their last five outings. They have failed to notch a run over the last 19 innings. This offensive anemia has kneecapped the team’s pitching strength and held the team back.

Against the Eagles, the Big Green saw 37 fewer pitches in nine frames than the opponent — the exact same distribution as the 4-0 loss against the Princeton University Tigers on Sunday. The game against Boston ran just over one hour and 45 minutes — nine minutes shorter than game two on Sunday. What the men are looking for, after the emergence of a fairly competent rotation, is run support — patience in the box and balls that break out of the infield without hanging in the air for too long.

Fortunately for the team next up in conference play are the Yale University Bulldogs who, with a 2-6 Ivy record, could be a good team for the Big Green to find their offensive stride against. As Matt MacDowell ’15 pointed out, there are players on the roster who have proven that they can hit.

“Sometimes it just takes guys a little bit longer,” MacDowell said. “All week last week in practice and this week we’re focusing on simplifying our approach and I think that’s ultimately what it comes down to. I think we have a lot of leadership that can take care of that.”

After Wednesday’s scheduled game against the College of the Holy Cross was cancelled due to inclement weather, the Big Green is now preparing to take on Yale University in a four-game series this weekend in New Haven, Connecticut.

The men will play two doubleheaders, one on both Saturday and Sunday. Moving forward, the team will have to work to stay consistent and defeat Yale, who’s tied with Brown University for the last position in the Red Rolfe Division. As MacDowell said, the game of baseball can be an unpredictable one.

“Hitting can be contagious and once some of us get going we’ll all get going,” he said. “One game can change everything. Baseball is a funny game. You can get shut out three in a row and then put up 15 the next game. You just don’t know what’s going to happen.”