Baseball comes back, takes Yale series 3-1

by Gayne Kalustian | 4/13/14 4:27pm

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by Josh Renaud / The Dartmouth

With the fate of the season on the line, the Big Green baseball team stepped into Biondi Park for back-to-back doubleheaders this weekend against Red Rolfe Division leader Yale University (13-18, 6-6 Ivy), settling for a 3-1 split. The weekend series made one thing clear: the Big Green offense has broken free from its early season frustration and is looking for blood.

Dartmouth (10-17, 5-7 Ivy) wasted no time as the first game opened Saturday afternoon, scoring in the first and third innings to build an early 3-1 lead.

After a Bulldog run in the fourth — the team’s final tally of the game — the Big Green came out hot. The first strike thrown to Lombardi was driven clear out of the park for his first home run of the season. The shot to left center was only overshadowed when Lombardi sent another one over the fence in nearly the same spot in the fifth, bringing in co-captain Dustin Selzer ’14 and designated hitter Joe Purritano ’16 , putting Dartmouth ahead by five.

The exceptionally windy day, competition in the box and fan participation, Lombardi said, were a high points of Dartmouth’s performance on Saturday.

“We’re hitting pitches we should hit, like when you’re up in the count 2-0 and they have to come back at you with a fastball,” he said. “Every single one of the guys in the lineup hit the ball hard, which puts a lot of pressure on the Yale defense. But a lot of credit also goes out to the fans who were out there, too, who put a ton of pressure on Yale throughout the whole day.”

The Bulldogs’ offense fell flat at the hands of Beau Sulser ’16 who pitched all seven innings and gave up just eight hits and the two earned runs while striking out five.

If any questions remained about Dartmouth’s offensive potential after game one, they were answered when the Big Green scored a season-high 12 runs on 13 hits in the second game, giving Yale only three late-game runs. Louis Concato ’14 pitched eight strong innings — the most he’s gone while wearing the green and white — allowing just six hits during his tenure on the mound.

“I have to keep making sure that I’m making the pitches that I want to,” Louis Concato said. “I also really need to make sure I’m not trying to do too much myself. I’ve got a great defense behind me, and I need to really let them help me out.”

At the plate, Dartmouth came out swinging again when Roulis, the second batter, hit a triple to right center to drive in the leadoff man Ruppert and scored on a throwing error by the Yale second-baseman for an early 2-0 Big Green lead.

In the third, co-captain Jeff Keller ’14 kicked off a four-run outburst after striking out but reaching on a wild pitch. He stole second and raced home on a single by Selzer, rounding the bases in the span of just two pitches. Selzer came home after a single by Lombardi and another throwing error, and Lombardi and Purritano scored on a single by Matt MacDowell ’15 up the middle.

Dartmouth would go silent until the sixth, when a sacrifice ground out brought in Ruppert after he crushed a triple to left center. The Big Green finished the game by then scoring five additional runs in the seventh, including a run scored by Keller after Selzer lined a hit inches from the foul line deep in left, that gave Keller just enough time to score from first.

Selzer’s position as the clean-up hitter, assumed after the first weekend of Ivy play, proved indispensable for the Big Green this weekend, bringing in Keller — one of Dartmouth’s most consistent hitters — three times this weekend.

Sunday morning brought challenges for Dartmouth, which dropped the first game 6-0, cemented by a devastating five-run sixth inning for the Bulldogs. Michael Danielak ’16 allowed all six runs on six hits, despite a solid performance during the middle of the game, when he struck out five batters.

Chris Lanham was dominant on the mound for the Bulldogs, limiting the Big Green offense to only four hits over seven innings while only throwing 79 pitches.

Game two hung in suspense for four innings while Mike Concato ’17 and Yale’s David Hickey kept both teams scoreless on offense. Dartmouth gave up the first runs in the top of the fifth, but the team answered later that inning. Adam Gauthier ’16, brought in Bo Patterson ’15 and Purritano with two outs on a single to right center. The runs mark the first scored by Dartmouth against Hickey over more than 14 innings.

“It feels great,” Gauthier said. “I went up there trying to find a pitch that I could put a good swing on, and luckily it found a hole where the defense wasn’t. I think it does a lot for our entire team’s confidence to get a third win going into next weekend.”

Duncan Robinson ’16 relieved Mike Concato on the mound in the sixth and gave up just two hits over four innings. Dartmouth scored once more in the sixth and once in the seventh to seal the win. Robinson’s strong outing came after giving up two runs in 1.2 innings against the University of Pennsyvania last weekend. Bouncing back, Robinson said, is more mental than anything, and trusting the defense is key.

“Coach hammers in the philosophy of throwing fast balls and strikes,” he said, “and I am just glad I gave our team a chance to win.”

The team’s chances to win the Red Rolfe Division and advance to the Ivy League Championship Series have been reignited with its weekend performance, as it now sits just one game behind Yale in the standings. For Dartmouth to have a chance at taking the Division for the seventh year in a row, Yale will have to lose at least one of its impending games against the Division’s bottom half — Harvard University and Brown University.

The team will play the University of Massachusetts at Lowell on Tuesday and four games against Brown next weekend.