Connecticut Slips Past Bulldogs, 4-3

March 25, 2009

Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale baseball team welcomed intra-state rival Connecticut to Yale Field on Wednesday, as the Bulldogs played their final non-conference contest prior to the Ivy League schedule. In a game that featured nearly twice as many pitchers used than runs scored, the visiting Huskies eked out a victory over the Elis by a score of 4-3.

With the loss, Yale falls to 4-7. Connecticut won its second consecutive game to improve to 9-10.

The Bulldogs used 10 different pitchers in the contest, as John Stuper, the Mazzuto Family Head Coach for Baseball at Yale, attempted to get as many hurlers as possible on the hill prior to the Ivy League season, which begins this weekend at Princeton.

"There is no substitute for in-game experience on the mound," said Stuper. "We still walked too many batters, but everybody pitched well."

Sophomore right fielder Andrew Moore paced the Bulldogs offensively, posting a 3-for-3 day at the plate and also notching an RBI. Junior first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth also registered a multi-hit day for the Elis, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

The Bulldogs started the scoring in the bottom of the third inning, as Moore led off with an infield single. Moore was erased at second base on a sacrifice bunt attempt by freshman shortstop Matt Schmidt, but Schmidt reached on the fielder's choice and quickly took second on a wild pitch. Another infield single, this one courtesy of freshman second baseman Zach Tobolowsky, put runners on the corners with one out for senior center fielder Stefan Schropp. The Yale captain cashed in on the RBI opportunity with a single to right field that brought Schmidt around to score the contest's first run.

The 1-0 Yale lead was short-lived, however, as the Huskies responded with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning. Singles by Peter Fatse and Kevin Vance led off the frame, and a groundout by Matt Nemeth pushed them both into scoring position. Another groundout, this one off of the bat of Pierre LaPage, tied the game at 1-1, and a base hit up the middle by Doug Elliot gave Connecticut a 2-1 lead.

The Bulldogs answered immediately with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Larsson-Danforth led off the frame with a single, and freshman left fielder Charlie Neil followed with a walk. Junior designated hitter Chris Sweeney dropped down a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position, and Larsson-Danforth crossed the plate on a groundout by the next batter, freshman catcher Ryan Brenner, to bring the contest back to a deadlock at 2-2. The next Eli up to the plate was Moore, who connected on his second infield hit of the day to plate Neil and push Yale back into the lead at 3-2.

The one-run advantage held up until the visitors' half of the seventh inning. Junior Robert Gruber came in to pitch for the Bulldogs and was promptly greeted by a squib base hit off of the bat of Harold Brantley, Jr. Brantley then stole second, and took third two batters later on a single from Dale Brannon. A walk loaded the bases and, after Fatse struck out for the second out of the inning, back-to-back walks drawn by Vance and Nemeth pushed two Huskies across home plate and gave Connecticut a 4-3 edge.

Yale tallied lead-off hits in the seventh and eighth innings, but failed to advance the runner past second base in either frame. Connecticut closer David Erickson shut the door on the Bulldogs with a perfect ninth inning to preserve the 4-3 victory for the Huskies.

Matt McDonald pitched the first six innings for Connecticut, allowing seven hits and three earned runs, to improve to 2-0 on the season. Erickson's save was his third.

Gruber issued three walks and surrendered two hits in his inning of work for the Bulldogs to fall to 1-1. Starter Vinny Lally was among seven Elis' hurlers to work one or more scoreless innings on the day.

"We pitched well and played good defense," said Stuper. "They just happened to score one more run than we did. I'm very happy with how this team looks heading into the Ivy season."

The Elis will start Ivy League play this weekend, as the squad travels to Princeton and Cornell for a pair of twin bills. Action in New Jersey on Saturday and New York on Sunday begins at 12 p.m.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity