Big Green holds 3-Game Lead over Bulldogs with 8 Rolfe Games Left
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University baseball team sits just three games out of first place in the Ivy League's Red Rolfe Division with eight league games remaining, making this weekend's four-game set against visiting Dartmouth, the Rolfe Division Leader, a crucial one for the Bulldogs.
Yale will host Dartmouth for a pair of doubleheaders this weekend, with the twin bills on Saturday and Sunday scheduled to begin at 12 p.m.
The Bulldogs enter the weekend with an 8-22 overall record, 5-7 in Ivy League play, and they will also have to keep an eye on Harvard, which also holds a 5-7 Ivy League record entering its weekend series at Brown. Not only do the Bulldogs need to keep pace with the Crimson in the race for the Rolfe Division crown, but they will likely need to take three out of the four games this weekend against Dartmouth (23-6, 8-4) to have a chance in the race for the Rolfe Division berth in the Ivy League Championship.
Trailing Dartmouth by just three games in the standings, Yale can surge into first place with a sweep of the four-game series.
Yale's Live Stats game-tracker for all four games can be found on YaleBulldogs.com.
Yale and Dartmouth have met 208 times entering this weekend's four-game series. Yale holds an overall advantage of 118-89-1 in the series that dates back to 1881.
Since 1928, Yale also holds a 58-30-1 edge over Dartmouth in games played at historic Yale Field.
In an odd quirk in the recent history of the series, the home team has swept the season series in each of the last three seasons. Dartmouth last won a game at Yale Field four years ago when it took three of the four games in 2009.
Since collecting 15 runs on 18 hits, both season-highs, in a 15-5 win over in-state rival UConn on April 3, Yale has struggled at the plate in the last 10 games. Since that victory, Yale has averaged collected five hits or fewer in seven of those 10 games, winning just three of the 10 games.
Overall, Yale has struggled at the plate this season and enters the weekend with a team batting average of .236 while averaging 3.5 runs per game.
Senior captain Chris Piwinski leads a Yale squad that includes 16 returning players from the group that finished 13-31-1 last season, with a fourth-place finish (5-15) in the Ivy League's Rolfe Division. The Bulldogs' roster includes seven new players, including five freshmen and two players that joined the team after spending time on Yale's football team in junior Jake Semones and sophomore Charles Cook.
Thirty games into the season, junior first baseman Jacob Hunter is leading the Bulldogs in hitting (.301), slugging (.387), total hits (28, tied with Eric Hsieh), and total bases (36). Freshman Brent Lawson leads the team in doubles (6), while sophomore second baseman David Toups is the team's home run leader with two.
Pitchers Ben Joseph (So. RHP, 2-1), David Hickey (Jr. LHP, 2-2) and Michael Coleman (Jr. RHP, 2-4) hold the team lead in pitching victories, while Chris Lanham (Fr. RHP, 1-6) and Rob Cerfolio (Jr. LHP, 1-4) each have one victory.
Cerfolio leads the Bulldogs' starters with a 2.54 earned run average and 39.0 innings pitched, while reliever Robert Baldwin is leading the bullpen with a 1.69 ERA. Junior Cale Hanson leads the team with two saves, while Joseph leads the team with 28 strikeouts in 11 appearances.
Dartmouth enters the weekend riding a six-game winning streak, its third streak this season of at least four straight wins. The Big Green started the season with eight consecutive wins.
The Big Green bats are hitting .308 in 29 games, while the pitching staff is holding an overall ERA of 2.85, leading the Ivy League in both categories. Dartmouth is also leading the Ivy League in slugging (.463), on-base percentage (.378), runs scored (192), RBIs (181), and home runs (20), and it is second in total hits (301), doubles (67) and triples (12).
Jeff Keller is Dartmouth's leader in hitting (.394), slugging (.778), on-base percentage (.475), runs scored (30), total hits (39), doubles (18), triples (4), and total bases (77), and he is second on the team in RBIs (32), home runs (4), walks (14), and stolen bases (5).
Sunday's Game 2 starting pitcher, Michal Johnson, leads the Big Green in ERA (1.52), opposing batting average (.179) and he is tied with Sunday's Game 1 starter, Mitch Horacek, with five wins.
Overall, Dartmouth's pitching staff has held opposing hitters to a .244 average.
Last Time Out
Yale held in-state rival Sacred Heart to just two hits over the final seven innings of Wednesday's game at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Pioneers scored three first-inning runs on a bases-loaded double by Rocco Gondek, which was enough for Sacred Heart to take a 3-2 win over Yale.
The two teams split the season series, with Yale earning a 5-3 win at Yale Field on April 2.
After Gondek's double, Yale starter Chris Lanham (1-6) settled down and retired the next nine Sacred Heart batters that he faced to hold the Pioneers to just the three first-inning runs.
Combined, Yale's five pitchers held Sacred Heart to just two hits after Gondek's double and a total of five hits in the game.
Yale bounced back with a run in the third inning after Cam Squires led off with a double, advanced to third on a groundout by Chris Piwinski and then scored when Tom O'Neill grounded out to short for the second out of the inning.
Yale picked up another run in the eighth inning when Eric Hsieh was hit by a pitch with two outs and later scored on an RBI single by Joe Lubanski. Yale had runners on first and third, but could not produce the tying run
Yale will close out the 2013 season with a pair of doubleheaders in a home-and-home series with Brown, hosting the Bears for two games on Friday, April 26, before visiting the Bears for two games in Providence on Saturday, April 27. Both doubleheaders are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.