Shutout gives baseball largest win total in 10 seasons
On a day that saw the members of the winningest senior class in Dartmouth history play their final game, the Big Green baseball team also saw a glimpse of the future. In the end, everybody was celebrating as the Big Green finished their season with a 5-0 shutout of twin-state rival Middlebury at Red Rolfe Field yesterday afternoon.
The win raised Dartmouth's record to 23-18 on the season, the most wins since 1988 and the most wins in Head Coach Bob Whalen's nine years. While the win total may not ease the pain of a mediocre 7-13 Ivy League campaign, it allowed the four senior members of the pitching staff to graduate as the winningest class in school history.
Closer Dan Godfrey '98 was the only member of the Class of 1998 to appear in the yesterday's game against the Panthers, an appearance that was guaranteed by Whalen.
"Everybody knew that Danny [Godfrey] was going to pitch the ninth, it only seemed appropriate that he finished out our season and his career closing out the ninth inning," Whalen said.
As it turned out, with Dartmouth in command 5-0 heading into the top of the ninth, Godfrey's outing was purely ceremonial. Regardless, Godfrey ended on a positive note, giving up no hits and striking out a batter. The appearance, the 56th of his career, allowed Godfrey to tie the Big Green career appearance record, having already set the season appearance record the past weekend against Harvard.
Whalen could not say enough in his closing remarks about Godfrey's career.
"This program is full of good kids, but Dan [Godfrey] has been one of the best we've ever had," Whalen said. "He has served as a model for every kid in this program and during his four years has earned the respect of not only his teammates and this program but the entire athletic department as well."
Yesterday's affair served as the final game in a Dartmouth uniform not only for Godfrey , but for three other senior pitchers: Eric Walania, Peter Sellers and Matt Tarver-Wahlquist.
"We are going to miss their leadership and abilities," Whalen said. "I don't know all of their numbers or stats, but they have achieved a great deal in their time with our program."
But just as the 5-0 win served as a farewell tour for the seniors, it also served as a game to build on heading into next year. Freshman starter Jeff Dutremble had his strongest performance of the year, pitching seven shutout innings of four-hit ball, continually frustrating Panthers hitters. Dutremble and Mark Swan '01, the Big Green's top two freshman hurlers, combined for eight innings of scoreless ball. The win raised Dutremble's record on the season to 3-1, lowering his team-leading ERA to 2.70.
"I don't care who we were playing, I wanted them to get some quality innings pitched," said Whalen of Dutremble and Swan. "They did an excellent job all afternoon. Jeff [Dutremble] was blowing pitches by them, and the innings were going so fast that we couldn't even get Swan in until the eighth inning. But I can't imagine a better way for them to end their season."
Just as the young pitchers excelled, so did offensive sparkplugs Mike Conway '99 and Aaron Meyer '00. Conway had two hits, drove in two key runs in the seventh inning and scored the game's opening run in the first inning. However, Meyer stole the show offensively, crushing a Scott Dudley fastball onto the roof of Leverone Field House in right center, his record-setting 11th home run of the season.
Dartmouth wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Conway opened up the afternoon with a double to left field that glanced off of the face of Panther center-fielder John Maletis, who had to leave the game. Chris Miranda '01 followed with a single. Sophomore James Little's fly ball brought home Conway, and Miranda scored on an inning-ending double play. The two teams then played six innings of scoreless ball before Conway drove a ball to the right field fence to score Jeremy McCormick '99 and Yale Dieckmann '00. Meyer's homer in the eighth inning finished off the scoring for Dartmouth.
The win over the Panthers was the first Big Green victory over a Division III opponent this season. Dartmouth had been 0-2 against Division III opponents, losing to Babson College and Keene St. earlier in the season.
The Big Green's 23 wins this season were one more than the 22 posted by the 1997 squad that finished 22-16, and the future is bright as all of the starting lineup returns next season.