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Ivy League Foes Columbia, Penn Visit Yale Field This Weekend

Ivy League Foes Columbia, Penn Visit Yale Field This Weekend

April 2, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Coming off of a 2-2 start to the 2009 Ivy League season, the Yale baseball team looks to eclipse the .500 mark this weekend and remain in the hunt in the Ancient Eight's Red Rolfe Division. Gehrig Division opponents Columbia and Penn make the trip to historic Yale Field on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, for a pair of doubleheaders beginning at noon. The Bulldogs enter the weekend at 6-10 overall, looking to stifle a two-game losing skid.

The Yale offense has been sparked by a host of players thus far in the 2009 campaign. Sophomore third baseman Andy Megee leads the way with a .406 batting average and .638 slugging percentage. Megee also tops the Elis' leaderboard in hits (28), doubles (7), triples (3), total bases (44) and stolen bases (5).

Sophomore second baseman Gant Elmore and senior center fielder Stefan Schropp have been the most frequent baserunners for Yale, posting on-base percentages of .465 and .444. Schropp leads the team with 14 base on balls, while Elmore, Megee and junior first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth have each crossed home plate on a team-best 12 ocassions. Larsson-Danforth has been the biggest run producer with 12 batted in, and freshman Zach Tobolowsky has swatted a team-high four home runs.

The Yale pitching staff has bounced back from a rough start to 2009, as several starters and relievers have emerged as go-to hurlers for Mazzuto Family Head Coach John Stuper. Senior Brandon Josselyn has been the ace of the Elis' rotation, posting a 2-0 record with a 2.40 earned run average over his last three appearances. On the season, Josselyn is 3-2 with a 5.08 ERA. He leads the Bulldogs in strikeouts (21) and innings pitched (28.1). Sophomore Vinny Lally, who like Josselyn had a rough first outing of the season in Baltimore, has notched a 2-0 record and a 1.35 ERA since that start. The southpaw nearly pitched a perfect game at Princeton on Saturday, falling two outs shy of the feat, to earn Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors.

Junior Robert Gruber has emerged as the fireman of the Yale bullpen. The 6'7 right-hander has stranded five of seven inherited runners, most notably pitching out of a bases loaded, none out jam on Wednesday against Quinnipiac. Gruber has also induced a team-best five double plays on the mound. Freshman Eric Shultz, who is 2-for-2 in save situations this season, owns a team-best 1.80 ERA with batters hitting just .189 against him.

The Columbia Lions come to Yale Field with an overall record of 4-19, including a 2-2 mark in the Ivy League. Freshman infielder Jon Eisen has been the Lions' most consistent hitter, tallying a .310 batting average with nine runs batted in. Senior first baseman Ron Williams is hitting just .226, but has cashed in on his RBI opportunities, driving in a team-high 11 runs through 23 games. Sophomore outfielder Nick Cox currently leads the Ivy League with 12 stolen bases. The Columbia pitching staff has struggled, as no starter has notched an earned run average lower than 5.11. Sophomore right-hander Dan Bracey has tallied two of the Lions' four wins, posting a 2-3 record with a 6.04 ERA in 28.1 innings of work.

The Penn Quakers, who will play a twin bill at Brown on Saturday before coming to the Elm City, enter the weekend with a record of 10-12 overall. Though they are 0-4 in Ancient Eight play, the Quakers have led in the sixth inning or later in three of their four league contests. Sophomore Jeremy Maas is hitting a league-best .433 with 13 extra-base hits and 16 runs batted in. Junior Tom Grandieri leads the way in RBI with 27. Sophomore Paul Cusick boasts a 4-1 record on the hill, totaling 34 strikeouts in 32.1 innings with an earned run average of 3.62. Three other Quakers have made multiple starts this season, combining for a record of 3-4 with a 6.72 ERA.

The Bulldogs will host Sacred Heart for a mid-week doubleheader beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Yale hits the road next weekend, as Ivy League play resumes in Cambridge, Mass. The Elis will play a quartet of Red Rolfe Division contests at Harvard in the form of noon doubleheaders on April 11 and 12.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity