Bulldogs to Open Ivy League Home Slate with Cornell, Princeton

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Gant Elmore. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – After taking four losses on the road to open the 2010 Ivy League season, the Yale baseball team kicks off its home league slate looking to get back on track against Gehrig Division foes Cornell and Princeton. The Bulldogs (12-11-1, 0-4 Ivy) will host Big Red (6-10, 2-2 Ivy) on Saturday before the Tigers (7-16, 2-2 Ivy) visit the Elm City on Sunday. Both doubleheaders, which will consist of a seven-inning game followed by a nine-inning game, will begin at noon and will feature audio courtesy of WYBC, Yale’s student radio station, both online at wybc.com and over the airwaves on channel 1340 AM.

The Bulldogs rebounded for their rough Ancient Eight start with promising performances in both ends of a home doubleheader against Sacred Heart on Tuesday. Though the Bulldogs split the twinbill with the Pioneers, Yale pounded out 20 hits in the two games and got strong outings from several pitchers, including 3.1 scoreless innings from senior right-hander Robert Gruber to earn a relief win in game one. On the season, Gruber is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 10.2 innings of work. The 6’7” submariner, who has made a staff-best 11 appearances out of the bullpen, has struck out four batters, walked two and held opposing hitters to a .231 average.

As a team, the Bulldogs’ pitching staff is among the Ivy League’s best with a 5.56 earned run average in 187.2 innings on the hill. This weekend’s projected starters- Brook Hart, Vinny Lally, Pat Ludwig and Christopher O’Hare- are a combined 10-5 with an ERA of 4.29. Opponents are batting .313 against the Yale staff.

Offensively, junior second baseman Gant Elmore leads Yale with a .400 batting average hitting primarily out of the leadoff spot. Senior first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth (.375, 6 HR, 28 HR) and junior third baseman Andy Megee (.359, 6 HR, 9 2B, 25 RBI) lead the Elis in the power-hitting categories. Megee has also stolen a team-high 10 bases. As a team, the Bulldogs are 29-for-44 on the basepaths in addition to a .313 batting average and a .965 fielding percentage.

The Cornell Big Red comes to Yale Field as the defending Gehrig Division champions. Mickey Brodsky leads the Cornell offense in 2010 with a .377 batting average, as four regulars boast averages of .310 or better. Brodsky and Frank Hager share the team lead with 12 runs batted in apiece. Big Red is batting .274 as a squad with a 10-for-18 mark on the basepaths and a .969 fielding percentage.

On the mound, Big Red boasts dominant right-hander Corey Pappel, who shutout defending Ivy League champion Dartmouth last weekend in a seven-inning win. Pappel, the expected game one starter on Saturday, is 2-1 with a 2.35 ERA. The ninth inning for Cornell belongs to David Rochefort, who is 0-1 despite allowing just one earned run in 10.1 innings of work. Rochefort has two saves and 11 strikeouts. As a staff, Big Red boasts comparable numbers to the Bulldogs with a 5.64 ERA and a .297 batting average against them. Right-hander Tony Bertucci (2-1, 3.06 ERA) or southpaw Matt Hill (1-2, 4.20 ERA) could start game two against the Bulldogs.

Yale and Cornell split a twinbill last year in Ithaca, with Big Red’s game two win snapping a four-game winning streak for the Bulldogs in the series. Yale has swept the last three twinbills in Yale Field, dating back to the 2004 season. The all-time series traces back to a 20-1 Elis’ win in the Elm City on May 17, 1887.

The Princeton Tigers, who matched Big Red’s 10-10 league mark last year but fell in a one-game playoff to determine the Gehrig Division crown, will travel to Brown on Saturday before visiting Yale Field on Sunday. The Tigers are hitting just .255 as a club, with Noel Gonzales-Luna hitting at a team-best .333 clip. Princeton in 16-for-18 on the basepaths and are committing nearly two errors per game en route to a .952 fielding percentage.

Tigers’ hurlers own a collective ERA of 7.01 with a .309 batting average against them. Yale is projected to face right-hander Zak Hermans (1-2, 7.77 ERA) and lefty Langford Stuber (1-1, 9.11 ERA) on Sunday. Princeton’s other weekend starters are David Palms (1-3, 3.73 ERA) and Dan Barnes (1-1, 3.81 ERA).

Yale and Princeton split a doubleheader last season in New Jersey.  In New Haven, each team has taken one end of the twinbill in the last four meetings. The all-time series dates back to a 30-23 win for the Bulldogs on June 25, 1868 n Yale’s second-ever game against a modern Ivy League foe.

The Elis will close out their eight-game homestand on Wednesday against Fairfield. The Stags visit the Elm City for two seven-inning contests beginning at 3:30 p.m.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity

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