April 3, 2010

Columbia, Penn Host Elis on Ivy League Opening Weekend

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With inclement weather washing out the Yale baseball team’s final Ivy League tune-up against Quinnipiac on Wednesday, the Bulldogs (11-6-1) will dive head-first in Ancient Eight play this weekend at Gehrig Division foes Columbia and Penn. In their most recent action, the Elis took the final two games of a three-game series against NYIT this past weekend, a stretch capped by overcoming a nine-run deficit to down the Bears, 13-10, on Sunday on Long Island.

Despite having played just two home games thus far, the Bulldogs enter Ancient Eight playing riding their best start since 1993. Yale is the top hitting team in the Ivy League with a .327 team batting average and ranks second on the mound with a collective 5.30 earned run average. The defensively-solid Bulldogs also rank second with a .962 fielding percentage.

Junior Gant Elmore, batting out of the leadoff spot, leads the Ivy League with 30 hits and a .400 batting average. He has also driven in nine runs, swiped two bases and played errorless defense in 102 chances as second base. Senior All-Ivy first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth has clubbed a league-best six roundtrippers and driven in an Ivy League-leading 27 runs in 18 games. Sophomore catcher Ryan Brenner hit three home runs in Sunday’s win at NYIT to bring his season total to five. Junior third baseman Andy Megee also hit his fifth homer on Sunday, the go-ahead three-run blast to complete the Yale comeback, and leads the Bulldogs with nine stolen bases and 23 runs scored. In total, six Bulldogs with over 60 at-bats are hitting .304 or better and all eight Yale players with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title (40) are batting at least .279.

Junior left-hander Brook Hart and sophomore right-hander Pat Ludwig lead Yale in most pitching categories. Hart, who will start Game 1 against Columbia, is 2-0 with a team-best 2.62 ERA in 24 innings on the hill. The rookie southpaw is holding opposing batters to a .258 average. Ludwig, the Bulldogs’ Game 1 starter against Penn, is 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA. His most recent outing was a two-hit, complete game (seven innings) shutout of NYIT on March 27. Ludwig leads the Bulldogs in strikeouts (27), innings pitched (25) and opponents’ batting average (.247). Left-handers Vinny Lally (4-0, 5.24 ERA) and Christopher O’Hare (1-0, 4.98 ERA) will start the nightcaps of this weekend’s twinbills.

The Columbia Lions (7-11) rank fourth among Ivy League teams in both hitting (.282) and pitching (7.11 ERA). The Lions have struggled in the field, committing nearly 2.5 errors per contest for a league-low .936 fielding percentage. Sophomore first baseman Alexander Aurrichio ranks fifth in the Ivy League with a .396 average. He has also racked up 11 extra-base hits to lead the league with a .796 slugging percentage. Sophomore Jon Eisen also ranks among the league’s best hitters with a .368 average.

The Lions’ pitching staff has struggled in the non-conference schedule, posting a team ERA of 7.12. Opponents are also hitting .333 against Columbia in 150.1 innings. Dan Bracey (1-2, 5.47 ERA), Stefan Olson (0-0, 5.85 ERA) and Pat Lowery (1-2, 5.40 ERA) are probable starters for this weekend, with Tim Giel (0-0, 6.27 ERA) and Geoff Whittaker (1-2, 8.04 ERA) vying for the fourth spot. Giel and Derek Squires (1-0, 3.60 ERA) have earned one save apiece for the Lions.

Columbia, 4-0 at home this season, swept Yale in a doubleheader at Yale Field last season. The Lions have taken three out of the last four from the Bulldogs in a series that dates back to a 46-12 Yale win over Columbia on Oct. 19, 1867. The annual twinbill has been a split in each of the last three seasons that the two teams have met at Robertson Field in Manhattan.

The Penn Quakers, who evened their record at 9-9 with a 16-4 win at St. Joseph’s on Wednesday, will host a twinbill against Brown before the Bulldogs come to the City of Brotherly Love on Sunday. The Quakers are batting .296 as a team, led by a .397 average from Dan Williams. Williams also leads the way in on-base percentage (.486) and slugging percentage (.647), while Spencer Branigan has driven in a team-high 15 RBI. Penn owns a .950 fielding percentage and is an efficient 17-for-20 on stolen base attempts.

As a staff, the Penn pitchers are comparable to the Bulldogs with a 5.60 ERA and a .279 batting average against them. Vince Voiro (1-1, 2.79 ERA) has emerged as the ace of the staff, with Chris McNulty (2-1, 2.84 ERA) and Paul Cusick (1-2, 4.74Williams also leads the way in on-base percentage (.486) and slugging percentage (.647), while Spencer Branigan has driven in a team-high 15 RBI. Penn owns a .950 fielding percentage and is an efficient 17-for-20 on stolen base attempts.

As a staff, the Penn pitchers are comparable to the Bulldogs with a 5.60 ERA and a .279 batting average against them. Vince Voiro (1-1, 2.79 ERA) has emerged as the ace of the staff, with Chris McNulty (2-1, 2.84 ERA) and Paul Cusick (1-2, 4.74 ERA) posting exceptional numbers behind him. Todd Roth (1-2, 6.06 ERA) is the likely fourth starter in the Quakers’ rotation. Reid Terry is 2-0 with no earned runs allowed in 11.2 innings out of the bullpen, and Trey Jennings (1-1, 2.61 ERA) has earned the lone save for Penn.

Yale swept the Quakers at Yale Field last year and is 4-1-1 in the last three doubleheaders at Penn’s Meiklejohn Stadium. The series began in April 27, 1886 (Yale won 13-3), though the Elis played their first game in Philadelphia three years earlier- a 12-0 loss to the Philadelphia Athletics (an early incarnation of today’s Oakland Athletics) on April 7, 1883. The 2010 Quakers are 6-2 at home entering league play.

The Bulldogs kick-off an eight-game homestand on Tuesday, as intra-state rival Sacred Heart visits Yale Field for a doubleheader beginning at 3:30 p.m. Yale will also host twinbills against Cornell (April 10), Princeton (April 11) and Fairfield (April 14) as a part of the homestand.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity

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