Big Green outlasts Big Red, sweeps two-game series
This weekend saw two more starts and two more wins for the Big Green baseball squad. Sunday afternoon the Dartmouth baseball team came out on top in both games of the doubleheader, 6-2 and 4-3, against Cornell at Red Rolfe Field. Both games were defined by solid pitching and timely hitting. The Big Green (9-9, 6-2 Ivy) extended its winning streak to six games, the longest since a 12-game streak in 2000. Dartmouth has won its last seven games against Cornell (6-13, 1-5). After this weekend, it's clear to the Big Green that this year's team is not the same as last year's, but different doesn't mean worse. The games against Cornell and Princeton established positive team morale giving the players the confidence needed going into the divisional play.
"This weekend was huge, not only because we put ourselves in a great position to win the Ivy League, but because of how well we played when the games were tight," said Jeff Speights '05, "Winning close games is the difference in our league, and if we continue to play like we did this and put ourselves in positions to win those games we really like our chances."
Dartmouth starters Russell Young '08 and Stephen Perry '07 both turned out strong performances for the Big Green. Young struck out four and gave up two runs over 6 2/3 innings of work.
Dartmouth took the lead with one down in the first when Will Bashelor '07 plated Will Schmidley '08 with a double.
In the next inning, the Big Green showed their offensive mettle with four runs on a lead-off double by Josh Bailey '05, a triple by Marty Hebert '05, two fielder's choices by Chris Grimm '05 and Bashelor and a passed ball. Bashelor had two RBIs in the games. Cornell finally got some runs on the board in the fifth inning with three singles, two of them infield hits. Young had pitched 11 1/3 scoreless innings up to that point. Bailey knocked in the final run of the game with a solo homer in the sixth. Cornell looked ready to stage a comeback in the seventh inning with two on and two out and the Big Green ahead 6-2. Closer Nick Peay '05 entered the game and induced a fielder's choice to end the game. Young received the win, improving his record to 3-0. Peay picked up his first save of the season. Cornell starter Bryce Klinesteker pitched only 1 1/3 innings, allowing five runs, four hits and two walks. Klinesteker took the loss.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Dartmouth pulled out a come-from-behind win after the Big Red took the lead in the fourth inning with three runs on four hits against starter Steve Perry '07. Rocky Collis, Cornell starter, was pitching a no-hitter through the first 3 2/3 innings, allowing only one Dartmouth batter to reach base on a strikeout-wild pitch. With two down in the fourth, Dartmouth began chipping away at the Big Red lead with two back-to-back home runs by Speights and Brian Zurhellen '05. Speights tied up the game in the sixth with a grounder to second that allowed Andrew Nacario '07 to score from third. In the seventh, Jason McManis '08 dropped a hit into right field, putting runners on the corners with two outs to set up a scoring opportunity for Hebert when Nacario hit a routine grounder to second that couldn't quite make it in the second baseman's glove.
Perry appreciated the run support after the fourth inning. "Being a pitcher, I feel much more relaxed on the mound when I know that the hitters will be able to get the runs we need to win," he said.
Peay entered the game for the ninth inning and induced a pop-up to McManis at short and a strikeout on a 3-2 pitch to keep the tying run from advancing past second. Peay picked up his second save on the season and in the day.Perry took the win allowing three runs on eight hits in eight innings. Collis received a no-decision despite striking out nine and walking on in six innings. Tad Bardenwerper received the loss. Bashelor stole two more bases, and is in within three of becoming the eighth player in Dartmouth history with 20 steals in the season.
"We all know we still have a lot to keep working on," Bailey asserted. "Our main goal is to keep improving each weekend and building confidence that we have what it takes to beat anyone in our league." Perry and Bailey also noted the importance of playing at home in front of supportive fans. "It really means a lot to all of us to have the great support we do," Perry stated. "They are the tenth man."
Wednesday afternoon Dartmouth looks to add to the win streak at the University of Vermont before returning to Red Rolfe division play in Hanover against Brown on Saturday and Sunday.