Baseball sweeps Princeton, improves win streak to four
On a beautiful spring Saturday in Hanover, the Dartmouth baseball team took the field against defending Ivy Champions, the Princeton Tigers. After last year's heartbreaking loss to the Tigers in the playoffs, the Big Green (7-9, 4-2 Ivy), who were selected by Baseball America to win the Ivy Championship in 2005, had something to prove to Princeton (9-14, 4-2).
A two-game sweep did the trick, as the Big Green won the first game decisively 9-2 and won the second game 2-1 behind the pitching prowess of Josh Faiola '06. The Big Green entered their doubleheader against Cornell on Sunday with a four game winning streak and the momentum and confidence needed to continue the Ivy season.
In the first game, the Big Green continued their run of scoring first in games, getting ahead early with three runs over two hits and three errors in the first inning. Brian Zurhellen '05, who went 3-4 with two runs and three RBIs in the first game, drove in Will Schmidley '08 with a double down the right field line with two on and two outs. Jeff Speights '05 scored on a bobble by Tiger left fielder Adam Balkan. Josh Bailey '05 drove in the third run with an RBI single.
Zurhellen drove in another run in the third before the Big Green opened the floodgates, scoring five runs in the fourth inning. Will Bashelor '06 drove in the first run of the inning, Speights drove in two with a double and Zurhellen drove in his third RBI of the day with his second double to make the score 9-1.
Dartmouth pitcher Jeff Wilkerson '07 gave up nine hits to the Tigers in his second straight complete game, but held the Tigers to one earned run and picked up the win. Wilkerson struck out four and walked none. Princeton's Gavin Fabian allowed eight earned runs on seven hits, walked four and struck out one during his four innings of work.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Princeton Tigers waited 8 2/3 innings before they could figure out how to score off of the Dartmouth starter, Faiola. Named by Baseball America as the top Ivy prospect for the 2005 and 2006 draft, Faiola allowed five singles during his complete game, striking out seven and walking one.
Dartmouth got on the board first in the third inning when Erik Bell '08 and Andrew Nacario '07 singled with one out and then advanced on a balk, putting Bell in position to score on Schmidley's groundout to second base.
Dartmouth's second run came in the sixth when Bashelor doubled and moved to third on a fielding error. Spieights drove in the winning run with a double.
Faiola's talent was not limited to his pitching during the eighth inning, when he grabbed a high chopper up the middle and threw it to first to end the inning with Aaron Prince in scoring position on third base.
Defense shone in the ninth inning with runners on first and third and one out as Balkan sent a ball to left-center field and Nacario made a stunning diving catch for the second out, as Princeton's sole run came home. Faiola struck out Sal Iacono to end the threat and the game.
Bashelor went 2-4 in the second game and stole his Ivy-leading 14th base.
Despite Princeton starter Christian Staehley's strong effort, striking out eight and walking one over eight innings, he was tagged with the loss.
With a shaky start in Florida and two losses against Penn, the Big Green has shown improvements as they spend more time on the field together. "This team's getting better and better every time we step out onto the field," Faiola noted. "We had a great day to play on our home field, great fan support and played two great, exciting games."
Zurhellen attributed the wins to playing the games the way baseball should be played. "Faiola and Wilkerson were outstanding in the games," Zurhellen said, "The defense played well and we got timely hits."
Dartmouth continued Ivy play on Sunday with a doubleheader against Cornell. They play a non-league game against Vermont in Burlington at 3 p.m. on Wednesday and the Brown Bears will travel to Hanover for two doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday starting at noon.