Postseason Play Remains Possible for Yale in Ivy League's Wide-Open Rolfe Division
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Despite its current 12-game losing streak, postseason play remains a strong possibility for the Yale University baseball team, which begins play this weekend against the first opponent from the Ivy League's Red Rolfe Division when its fiercest rival, Harvard, visits Yale Field for a pair of doubleheaders that begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The Bulldogs currently stand at 6-24-1 overall, 0-8 in the Ivy League standings, but they are only four games behind Rolfe Division leader Dartmouth, which is currently 4-4 in Ivy League play. With 12 games remaining against Rolfe Division opponents, anything can happen, and a strong showing against Harvard this weekend would keep Yale in the mix for the division title.
Unfortunately, the 12 straight losses do not tell the complete story of the Bulldogs' recent play. In fact, they have been in contention to win nearly every one of those losses, with nine of them coming by three runs or less. In fact, if the breaks had fallen in Yale's favor this season, there are at least six games, all ending in one-run losses, which easily could have gone in favor of the Bulldogs, changing the season's current outlook.
The good news is the Bulldogs have looked like a much better team of late than their record shows. When the team was no-hit against Hartford on March 24, that loss started the current losing streak, but rock bottom came a week later after a doubleheader sweep by Penn when the Bulldogs' team batting average dropped to .221, the lowest it had been since the season-opening doubleheader at Virginia Tech.
Since then, the Bulldogs are hitting 61-for-207 (.295) while holding opponents to a combined .278 average.
None of the Bulldogs have come through more than sophomore shortstop Cale Hanson. He will enter the weekend holding a 29-game streak of reaching base at least once. For the season, Hanson is hitting .359 with seven doubles, 14 walks, 11 runs scored and six RBIs. He is leading the team in batting average, slugging percentage (.427), on-base percentage (.441), total hits (37), doubles, walks, total bases (44), and stolen bases (5).
But since the bats have started to come around, Hanson isn't the only Bulldog that is proving to be a danger in the lineup.
None of the Yale bats have broken through more than senior captain Ryan Brenner. Brenner was mired in a 4-for-31 slump (.129) with nine hitless games during that 12-game stretch. In the seven games since, Brenner is hitting 11-for-21 (.524) with three doubles, four runs scored, and five out of his eight RBIs this season.
Others have also come through for the Bulldogs. In the last seven games, Chris Piwinski is 8-for-21 (.381) with a triple and a double, two RBIs, and three runs scored. Over that same stretch, freshman David Toups is 9-for-24 (.375) with a pair of doubles. Jacob Hunter is 6-for-12 (.500) with two doubles in his last four games, while Joe Lubanski is 5-for-16 (.313) in his last six games.
With 12 Rolfe Division games remaining on the schedule, the bats have started to come through at the perfect time.
Three of the Rolfe Division teams have won just six games so far this season, including Yale, Brown (6-21) and Harvard (6-24). Dartmouth is 9-14 overall. The struggles by all four teams this season leaves the Rolfe Division wide open over the final two weeks of the regular season.
Harvard enters the weekend hitting .272 with a team ERA of 4.95. The Crimson has scored just 104 runs while opponents have tallied 174 runs. Harvard's leading hitter is Jake McGuiggan, who is hitting .329 (24-for-73) with six doubles, a home run, and a team-high 14 RBIs.
Harvard enters the weekend with four losses in its last five games. However, the lone win in that stretch was a 5-2 win over Boston College that put the Crimson into the Beanpot championship game.
The Crimson started the season with 16 losses in its first 17 games.
All of that equals a great opportunity that awaits the Bulldogs this weekend. If the bats keep improving, the weekend could be the start of a great finish to the 2012 season for the Bulldogs.
Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity