Competition grows tense as season’s end approaches for Big Green baseball
The Big Green had a week of ups and downs with its championship hopes in question.
Coming off a strong previous week that included another Ivy League series win against Cornell University, baseball had solid outings this week to stay in the title conversation. Despite suffering a close 3-1 loss against the College of the Holy Cross on Tuesday, the Big Green was able to take care of business against Harvard University over the weekend. In the three-game series, Dartmouth won the first game with eight runs to Harvard’s six, lost by a score of 6-1 in the second and won the third 15-2. Dartmouth came into the weekend maintaining its third place ranking in the Ivy League, while Harvard was not too far behind in fourth. As the fight for the Ivy League title continues, Dartmouth improves to 21-16 overall and 12-6 in the conference.
On Tuesday, the Big Green failed to get the job done against Holy Cross in a low-scoring 3-1 finish. It was a very uncharacteristic day for Dartmouth offensively, as the Big Green was only able to muster up four hits despite averaging 10 per game this season. Only one of the four hits resulted in a score — a ninth inning home run from Justin Murray ’22. In spite of the loss, Dartmouth’s pitching ensemble was able to gain some experience as six different pitchers appeared.
Head coach Bob Whalen noted that while Dartmouth did not give up any easy bases, a loss is still something the team cannot afford at this point in the season.
“Our season is 21 games, it’s a sprint,” Whalen said following the loss to Holy Cross. “Every game matters. If you don’t win a game that you think you should have won, you can’t get it back.”
Following Tuesday’s matchup, the Big Green started its series with Harvard on Saturday with a doubleheader. In the first game, Dartmouth won 8-6 and stopped Harvard from running away with it in the end. Dartmouth appeared to be in the clear for most of the game with a 5-1 lead headed into the seventh, but a pair of Harvard home runs in the eighth inning off of relief pitcher Cole Roland ’22 closed the gap. Nevertheless, Dartmouth’s offense took off right when it needed to, with Kade Kretzschmar ’22 responding with a home run of his own in the eighth inning — his 40th RBI of the season. The main contributor of the day was Justin Murray ’22, who racked up four RBI’s in three hits, including a two-run deep center field blast in the ninth inning to put the nail in the coffin.
“Knowing that teammates have confidence in me gives me the confidence to keep going out there and just do what I know I can do,” Murray said, prior to the Harvard series.
For Whalen, Murray has been someone he can rely on to perform in the clutch like Murray did against Harvard.
“We’ve asked a lot of him, and he’s done incredible things for us,” Whalen said. “He has been able to carry that load and the responsibility of hitting, defending and pitching.”
Murray has been a key part of the team’s overall success this season as he continues to sport the team’s second-highest batting average at .375, which is third in the Ivy League, and the team’s highest SLG percentage at .625, which is fifth in the conference.
In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Big Green was not as fortunate in the batter’s box or on the mound, as Dartmouth suffered a 6-1 loss. The trouble started out early for pitcher Trystan Sarcone ’22, allowing the only six runs that Harvard would put up within the first four innings. Although the offense has been displaying some stellar performances lately, Saturday’s game two did not follow that trend. The Big Green struggled offensively until it finally scored its only run of the game in the eighth inning, coming from Tyler Robinson ’24. Robinson managed to tally the team’s lone run off a fielder’s choice play in which Elliot Krewson ’25 reached base.
Despite Sarcone’s tough outing on Saturday, he has been playing extremely well lately, including a big performance last week where he posted a 10-strikeout game in the win against Cornell. The senior starting pitcher leads the team in strikeouts, and Sarcone noted that he understands that he and the squad need to remain focused as the end of the season quickly approaches.
“We’re just keeping the mentality of knowing it’s us against the world,” Sarcone said. “We’ve been playing well but we’re still in third place and got a lot to prove with more games left.”
After falling short in the second game of the weekend, the Big Green rallied to dominate Harvard in the final game of the series on Sunday. Dartmouth had a strong second inning to put the Big Green up 3-1, but neither team was able to reach home plate in the third or fourth innings. It was not until the fifth that the Big Green ramped it up, with a home run from Kretzchmar capping off an emphatic six-run inning. Dartmouth was not done yet, though, earning six more runs to run up the score to 15-2.
The Big Green continues to push on and fight for the Ivy League title, which has not returned to Hanover since 2010. The team believes that this is the year to get it done, and if the cards fall in its favor over the next few weeks, the Big Green is the team to look out for.
“This has been the best team that I’ve been on, I feel really good about it,” Sarcone said. “It’ll be tough, but I think we definitely have a good enough team to win [the championship] and it will be interesting to see how it plays out over the next couple of weeks. But, if we’re in the championship, I’m taking our team 10 times out of 10.”