April 8, 2012

Hanson Keeps Streak Alive in Pair of Heartbreaking Losses

Bulldogs' Sophomore Shortstop Extends On-Base Streak to 27 Games

 

WEST HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University baseball team played inspired baseball against two quality Ivy League opponents this weekend only to see it spoiled by late-inning heroics in three of the four games, and the two losses to Cornell on Sunday at Yale Field were the most heartbreaking of the weekend.

Chris Cruz belted a three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to lead Cornell to a come-from-behind 5-3 win in Game 1. In Game 2, Yale rallied from a 4-2 deficit to tie the game with a run in the bottom of the seventh and another in the bottom of the eighth, but Cornell staged a four-run rally of its own in the top of the ninth inning to escape with an 8-6 win.

Yale dropped to 6-22-1 overall and 0-8 in Ivy League play. Cornell improved to 21-6-1, 7-1 in Ivy League play.

Yale also dropped a pair of tough losses in the doubleheader sweep by Princeton on Saturday that included a 6-3 loss in seven innings after a four-run seventh inning by Princeton broke a 2-2 tie. That gives Yale three losses in the four games over the weekend that saw the opposing team win the game with a rally in the final inning of the game.

Despite the four losses over the weekend and the two heartbreakers on Sunday, Yale head coach John Stuper said he was pleased with the efforts that the Bulldogs displayed all weekend.

"People may be surprised to hear this, but I am proud of the way my team is playing," Stuper said. "They play hard for the entire game. They never quit. They have played hard all year, and I believe they deserve better than they've gotten. That being said, this can be a cruel game and you have to make your own breaks. Trust me, we're going to keep battling. We're very young at most positions and we are still learning."

On Sunday, Yale trailed 2-0 after the second inning of Game 1 and rallied with a run in the fourth inning and two more in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead heading into the final inning. That's where the score remained until Cruz belted his three-run homer with two outs in the top of the seventh to lift Cornell to the come-from-behind victory.

After back-to-back RBI singles in the second inning by J.D. Whetsel and Brenton Peters gave Cornell the early 2-0 lead, Yale sophomore shortstop Cale Hanson singled in the bottom of the fourth inning to extend his on-base streak to 26 straight games and scored on an RBI double by Kevin Fortunato to cut the deficit to 2-1.

In the sixth inning, Hanson walked and scored the tying run on an RBI single by Charlie Neil. Jacob Hunter singled with two outs to drive in Neil with the go-ahead run.

After Yale starter Pat Ludwig retired the two of the first three batters he faced in the top of the seventh, Fortunato was called upon to replace him and close out the game. He walked the first batter he faced to put two men on for Cruz. The sophomore right fielder pummeled the 0-1 pitch from Fortunato high and far over the right-field fence to give Cornell the 5-3 lead and the victory.

Ludwig suffered another hard-luck outing. He was stellar, striking out eight batters, seven of them looking, in 6⅔ innings. He scattered six hits and allowed three runs, all earned, in the no-decision.

Game 2 saw Cornell score a run in the third inning on an RBI double by Marshall Yanzick before Yale took a 2-1 lead with a pair of fourth-inning runs on an RBI single by Joe Lubanski and an RBI double by Ryan Brenner. The Big Red tied the game on Brian Billigen's solo homer in the sixth and then took a 4-2 lead on a two-run triple by Billigen in the seventh inning.

Yale rallied with a run in the bottom of the seventh inning on a squeeze bunt by David Toups that scored Chris Piwinski and one more in the bottom of the eighth when Cam Squires scored from third on a wild pitch to tie the game at 4-4.

In the top of the ninth, Cornell scored four unearned runs to pull ahead 8-4 on RBI singles by Yanzick and Cruz and a two-run single by Tom D'Alessandro.

Yale had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the inning, scoring a pair of runs on a run-scoring single by Hanson and an RBI sacrifice fly out by Squires to pull within 8-6 and bringing the tying run to the plate, but the rally fell just short.

Yale saw seven players collect multiple hits against Cornell. Brenner and Hunter both went 3-for-6 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Hanson went 3-for-7 with two runs scored and an RBI. Lubanski, Fortunato, Piwinski and Neil each had two hits.

Yale will host in-state rival Fairfield on Wednesday for a doubleheader that begins at 3:30 p.m. before returning to Ivy League play with a pair of doubleheaders against Rolfe Division rival Harvard on Saturday and Sunday.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity