April 9, 2009

Harvard Hosts Bulldogs in Pivotal Ivy League Weekend

April 9, 2009

Yale Baseball
Harvard Baseball

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The 2009 Ivy League baseball season will pass its halfway point this weekend, as the Yale Bulldogs travel to Cambridge, Mass. looking to break into the title picture in the Ancient Eight's Red Rolfe Division with four games against their most-storied rival, the Crimson of Harvard. The Elis currently sit at 4-4 in league play, coming off of a weekend in which they were swept by Columbia on Saturday and bounced back to take two from Penn on Sunday. Yale is 9-13 overall in 2009.

The Red Rolfe Division has been the class of the Ivy League this season, wrapping up inter-division play holding a 24-8 record against the Gehrig Division. Red-hot Dartmouth leads the Rolfe Division at 8-0. Brown, Big Green's opponents this weekend, sits at 7-1, while Harvard begins the weekend one game ahead of Yale at 5-3.

The Bulldogs' success this season has been dictated its pitching. The Yale staff has posted an 8.92 earned run average in its 13 losses, as compared to a 3.45 ERA is the Elis' nine victories in 2009. Senior right-hander Brandon Josselyn heads the starting rotation with a 3-2 record and a 5.45 ERA. Josselyn leads Yale with 34.2 innings pitched and 30 strikeouts.

Sophomore left-hander Vinny Lally is also 3-2 on the season. The southpaw rebounded from a rough start against Columbia to toss 6.2 innings without surrendering an earned run in Yale's 5-3 victory over Sacred Heart on Tuesday. Lally has held opponents to a .247 batting average this season.

Despite a deceptive 0-3 record, junior right-hander Joe Castaldi has been the Bulldogs' most consisted starter in 2009. Castaldi has not allowed more than six earned runs in an appearance this season, including two scoreless appearances of the bullpen.

The starting rotation is rounded out by sophomore Andy Megee. The newcomer to the Yale staff made his first start of the season on Sunday against Penn, notching the win after holding the Quakers to just two hits in five innings. For the season, Megee is 1-0 with a 1.12 ERA and .111 batting average against him in eight innings of work.

Megee, the Elis' starting third baseman, has also been the squad's most consistent hitter this season. The sophomore is hitting a team-high .391 with 12 extra-base hits and 12 runs batted in. He also leads the Bulldogs in hits (36), doubles (8), triples (3), total bases (53) and stolen bases (9).

While Megee has often been the Bulldog to set the table in 2009, clean-up hitting junior Trygg Larsson-Danforth has been the one to clear it. The 6'6 first baseman has swatted five home runs and racked up 22 RBI, both team bests, while hitting .372 and slugging a team-high .628. Larsson-Danforth has also recorded four stolen bases.

The Harvard Crimson enters the weekend at 7-20 overall and 5-3 in the Ivy League. After winning a 17-inning marathon in the nightcap of a doubleheader with Princeton on Sunday, the Cantabs dropped mid-week games against Northeastern and Bryant to resume Ivy League play on a two-game losing streak.

As a team, Harvard has posted an 8.96 earned run average and is allowing seven runs per game in Ivy League contests. Brent Suter has been the ace of rotation, tallying three of the team's seven victories. The freshman southpaw is 3-3 with a 6.31 earned run average in 35.2 innings of work. Jonah Klees, who owns the Crimson's lone save this season, has posted a 4.98 ERA in 21.2 innings out of the bullpen.

While Harvard's pitching has had its trouble in 2009, the Cantabs' line-up has done its part with plenty of run production. Matt Rogers and Tom Stack-Babich lead the Crimson offense with eight home runs apiece. Rogers is hitting .374 and has driven in 27 runs, while Stack-Babich owns a .344 average and has racked up 25 RBI. In total, five regular starters are hitting .324 or better for the Crimson, and all five of those players have tallied at least 14 RBI.

After this weekend, Yale will take a break from Ivy League play to host the Stags from Fairfield University on Wednesday. The doubleheader from Yale Field begins at 3:30 p.m. Ivy League action returns to New Haven next weekend as current Rolfe Division leader Dartmouth visits the Elm City for a pair of noon doubleheaders on Saturday, March 18 and Sunday, March 19.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity