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Lavarnway’s Record-Setting Season Propels Greenville Drive to Playoffs

Ryan Lavarnway (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Ryan Lavarnway (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – As one of the top hitters in the 144-year history of Yale baseball, former Bulldog Ryan Lavarnway has toppled his share of records. Playing in his first full season of professional baseball in 2009, the Ivy League’s all-time home run leader has added to his list of personal accolades with one of the best offensive seasons in the history of the Greenville (S.C.) Drive, the Class-A affiliate for the Boston Red Sox.

The 2007 NCAA Batting and Slugging Champion, Lavarnway swatted a franchise-record 36 doubles for the Drive in 2009 and tied the club home run mark with 21 roundtrippers. Both numbers represent the third-most overall in the South Atlantic League this season. The former Yale catcher also set Greenville records for a right-handed batter with 87 runs batted in, the second-most RBI in the league in 2009, and 218 total bases. Lavarnway batted .285 in the regular season and ranks among the all-time leaders for the Drive with a .540 slugging percentage. The owner of a Yale and Ivy League record 23-game hitting streak, Lavarnway hit safely in 14 consecutive games for the Drive in May.

Thanks in large part to Lavarnway’s big bat, the Drive will continue into the postseason with a best-of-three series against the top-seeded Asheville Tourists, a team that Greenville swept last weekend.

In addition to Lavarnway, a pair of Yale hurlers closed out strong seasons on the mound for their respective minor league clubs. 2009 Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Brandon Josselyn ’09, who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in June, was called up from the Appalachian Rookie League after just eight appearances with the Pulaski (Va.) Mariners, and quickly became one of the most reliable arms in the bullpen for the Class-A Clintonville (Iowa) LumberKings. Though his split season did not allow him to qualify as an official “league leader”, Josselyn was among the best in the Midwest League with a miniscule 0.75 earned run average in 24 innings of work. The righty hurler surrendered just two earned runs in that time while amassing 18 strikeouts and three saves. Batters managed a paltry .177 batting average against Josselyn.

Brian Irving ’08, a member of the San Francisco Giants, completed his first full season in 2009 in the Arizona Rookie League. The ace of the 2008 Yale staff has blown away opposing hitters, piling up 37 strikeouts in 22.2 innings of work. In his final appearance of the season, Irving struck out six batters in 2.1 innings on the hill to improve his record in the AZL to 4-1. He finished 2009 with a 1.19 ERA and a .169 opponents’ batting average.

Lavarnway, Josselyn and Irving represent three of the 26 Yale baseball players to be drafted or sign professional contracts during the 17-year career of John Stuper as Mazzuto Family Head Coach for Baseball. At least one Bulldog has been drafted in each of the last five seasons.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity