Two baseball wins keep Big Green alive for playoffs

by Brett Drucker and Gayne Kalustian | 4/27/14 4:41pm

4-28-14-sports-baseball-tracy-wang
4.28.14.sports.baseball
by Tracy Wang / The Dartmouth

With a line drive shot from Matt Parisi ’15, the baseball team tallied a dramatic walk-off win against Harvard University to complete the sweep of the doubleheader in Hanover. The Big Green set up a critical match up in Cambridge on Tuesday, looking to keep its hopes alive for a seventh straight Red Rolfe Division title.

Dartmouth knocked off the Crimson 4-2 in the Sunday afternoon opener at an overcast Red Rolfe Field and took the second game 3-1 thanks to the shortstop’s dramatic hit.

“I don’t think it registered right away,” Parisi said. “You think about hitting a walk-off home run your whole life, and you never think it would actually happen. I couldn’t wait to throw my helmet and celebrate with my teammates.”

After learning in the locker room on Friday that Brown University had swept Yale University in the opening double-header of their weekend series, the team was energized by a chance to return to the Ivy Championship Series, second baseman Thomas Roulis ’15 said.

“I think it was encouraging knowing that,” head coach Bob Whalen said. “As much as we talk about handling the business on our end, at least [that] opened the door a crack, and I think it gave our kids some incentive that if they did what they needed to do, there was a chance.”

In the first game, Harvard drew first blood in the second when a double from third baseman Mitch Klug brought home the runner on second, but the Big Green avoided further damage as starter Beau Sulser ’16 got a ground out and strikeout to leave two runners stranded in scoring position.

In the bottom half of the second, with runners on first and second, Bo Patterson ’15 reached on an error by Crimson shortstop Jake McGuiggan, loading the bases with just one out. Matt MacDowell ’15 reached on a fielder’s choice up the middle, bringing home Joe Purritano ’16 but getting Patterson out at second. The runners on the corners would be stranded on a pop out the next at bat, bringing Sulser back to the mound.

Three up and three down put Dartmouth back at bat, and the Big Green took the lead when a single by Selzer drove in Roulis who had reached on a single of his own and advanced to third on a failed pick off attempt. The team put up another run in the fourth when Nick Lombardi ’15 led off the inning with a double, was moved on by a sacrifice from Patterson and scored on a sacrifice fly from MacDowell.

In the top of the fifth, Crimson lead-off man Carlton Bailey was called safe on a throw back to first that caused protest from the stands. With a full count, Harvard’s Mike Martin sent a double deep into left centerfield, scoring Bailey

and narrowing Dartmouth’s lead to 3-2.

The Crimson loaded the bases later that inning on a walk, but Dartmouth hung on when Sulser got a ground out to shortstop. Dartmouth leads the League in fielding percentage, posting a strong .980.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Big Green restored its two-run lead on a sacrifice fly from Selzer that scored Keller.

After securing one out and allowing one hit in the seventh, Sulser was relieved by Duncan Robinson ’16, who hit the first batter he faced, but helped enable a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.

Louis Concato ’14 opened the second game against senior Danny Moskovitis who entered the game with a 1.08 ERA, the fourth best in the Ivy League.

In the third and fourth innings, Concato got into a pair of second and third jams but was saved by his infield each time. Lombardi made a nice charging play to get the runner at first in the third while Selzer cleanly fielded a chopper at first in the fourth.

“He has pitched in and out of jams most of the year,” Whalen said. “I thought he did a good job getting to both sides of the plate with his fastball, and he threw his curve ball for strikes pretty much the entire outing.”

Moskovitis maintained a no-hitter until the bottom of the fourth, when Roulis hit a two-out single up the middle. But the Big Green could not capitalize on its first opportunity when Purritano drove a line-drive right at the right-fielder for the third out of the inning.

The Crimson finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth after Concato opened the inning by walking the number nine hitter. After Harvard loaded the bases with a single and another walk, the Crimson scored on a sacrifice fly to right with the runner tagging on third and a throw that was a bit too far up the third-base line to get the runner.

The top of the sixth would be Concato’s last inning of work, but he finished it emphatically, getting two strike-outs looking to end the inning.

The bottom of the sixth saw the Big Green lineup tie the game at 1-1 through another manufactured run. Ruppert opened the inning with a four pitch walk before being advanced on a sacrifice from Roulis. Two batters later, Purritano smashed a 1-0 pitch over the first baseman’s head towards the right-field corner to score Ruppert from second.

“We did do a good job of putting at-bats together, but their kids made pitches when they needed to and didn’t allow us to score in bunches,” Whalen said. “I was very pleased with both the way we moved runners and got guys in today.”

Michael Danielak ’16 stifled the Crimson on the mound over the last three frames, allowing just one hit with three strikeouts, including a pair of strikeouts looking to end the eight and ninth innings.

Patterson opened the bottom of the ninth with an infield single by beating out the throw from the shortstop who was deep in the hole. A sacrifice bunt from MacDowell moved Patterson into scoring position with one out and Parisi coming to the plate. The Big Green shortstop crushed the first offering into the netting in left to give Dartmouth a 3-1 walk off victory that kept its hopes of post-season play alive.

“My approach was just relaxed and making sure I got a good pitch,” Parisi said. “The first pitch, it looked like he made a mistake, threw it on the inner half belt high, and I put a good swing on it.”

The team will travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Tuesday to make up the two games canceled due to rain on Saturday. The Big Green now sits one game behind Yale in the Red Rolfe Division.

“To come back, after the way we started the season, it’s an amazing feeling to still be in the running,” Roulis said.

The Bulldogs split their games this weekend at Brown to open the door for a possible Big Green rally. After receiving help from Brown, the Big Green’s fate again rests in their own hands.

“We’re going to be the hunters,” Parisi said. “The last couple of years, we were the ones with the targets on our backs, so it was good to be in a position to take it ourselves.”