Bulldogs Two Games Behind Big Green Heading Into Four-Game Series
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — If the Yale University baseball team is going to challenge for the Ivy League championship in 2011, this weekend is probably the biggest weekend of the season.
Dartmouth, the defending Ivy League champion, is in town for a four-game series beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday followed by another twin-bill on Sunday. Both doubleheaders begin at 12 p.m.
The Big Green has won the Rolfe Division in each of the last three seasons and is in prime position to win a fourth consecutive division crown. The Big Green currently sits at 18-6 overall, 6-2 in Ivy League play. The Bulldogs are tied with Brown for second place in the Rolfe Division. Yale is 16-12 overall, 4-4 in Ivy play.
A sweep by either team this weekend could prove to be the difference in the race for the Rolfe Division title.
That was the exact scenario in 2010, when Yale went to Hanover, N.H., only to be swept by Dartmouth by a combined score of 21-8. The Big Green took command of the Rolfe Division with the four-game sweep and never looked back en route to its third straight title.
That is exactly what Yale would like to do this time around, but it will not be easy. Dartmouth is currently riding a six-game winning streak, and it has won 14 of its last 16 games. The Big Green has won 16 straight home games, which is second in the nation behind an 18-game home winning streak by North Carolina.
However, if Yale has an advantage this weekend, it comes thanks to the stadium that will host the four games. Yale holds a 54-30-1 record over Dartmouth since historic Yale Field was built.
Yale will face four tough pitchers this weekend in juniors Cole Sulser and Kyle Hendricks, sophomore Kyle Hunter and freshman Mitch Horacek. The four hurlers hold a combined record of 11-3 with a combined 121 strikeouts. Sulser has won 11 straight decisions, dating back to his freshman season, while Hunter is 5-1 in his career over 14 career starts.
As a team, Dartmouth has hit .327 this season with 16 home runs, 16 triples and 61 doubles, outscoring opponents 203-114 in its 24 games this season, an average margin of victory of 3.7 runs per game.
Ennis Coble is the Big Green's big bat with a .420 average in 23 starts this season. Of his 37 hits, he has nine doubles and three triples with a team-high 29 RBIs.
Seven hitters in all are hitting better than .300 this season for Dartmouth, four of which are hitting better than .330. Aside from Coble, Joe Scalfani is hitting .394 with 41 hits (8, doubles, 5 triples, 3 home runs), Sam Bean is hitting .350 with 35 hits (10 doubles), and Chris O'Dowd is hitting .337 with 33 hits (6 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs).
However, in the eight Ivy League games only Bean (.367) and Coble (.345) are hitting higher than .276, and four starters have a batting average of .250 or lower.
The Yale offense, however, has seen its production increase against Ivy competition. Overall, the Bulldogs are hitting .288. But against Ivy League opponents, the Bulldogs are hitting a robust .310. Both marks are second in the Ivy League.
Six Bulldogs are hitting better than .300 this season, led by Cam Squires, who is hitting .367 in 11 starts. Of the Bulldogs' regulars, freshman Jacob Hunter is hitting .356 in 20 starts with seven doubles and 18 RBIs. Trey Rallis is hitting .337 overall, but he is hitting a league-best .462 in Ivy League games. He has 33 hits, seven doubles, two home runs and 21 RBIs.
Andy Megee, who is hitting .316 overall, leads the Bulldogs with 36 hits, nine doubles, 23 RBIs, 51 total bases and 10 stolen bases.
No matter the outcome, the weekend series should be an entertaining one as both teams vie for Rolfe Division supremacy.
Live stats will be available for both doubleheaders at www.yalebulldogs.com.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity