Nothing Doing … Twice: Dartmouth, Cornell Divide Shutouts in Ivy Split
Dartmouth’s Trent Goodrich flips away his bat as the bench and fans celebrate following the two-out, bases-loaded walk he received in the bottom of the ninth inning in the Big Green’s 1-0 win over Cornell yesterday. The Big Red earned a doubleheader split with a 3-0 nightcap victory. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth junior Brendan Loftus holds a poster of Big Green baseball coach Bob Whalen during yesterday’s twinbill. Loftus said the Big Green players enjoy the sight of their boss’ head bobbing in the crowd, but the coach “has never acknowledged us.” (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Cornell catcher Matt Hall holds up the ball after tagging Dartmouth’s Bo Patterson out at the plate in the opening game of the Ivy League rivals’ doubleheader yesterday. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — The Dartmouth College baseball team used a walk-off walk to score the winning run yesterday during a 1-0 defeat of visiting Cornell. Unfortunately for the Big Green, its scoring faltered even further during the second game of the teams’ Ivy League doubleheader, allowing the Big Red to capture the nightcap, 3-0.
It’s a measure of Dartmouth’s success during the past decade that splitting a weekend against two of the league’s best programs was greeted with dour expressions in the home dugout.
“We have a better team than that,’’ said Big Green pitcher Michael Johnson, who allowed just two hits while striking out five batters and walking two during the first game’s initial eight innings. “We need more intensity, and we can’t have flat periods where we beat ourselves, which I think we did today. We need to give credit to Princeton and Cornell, but those were pitchers we should hit and I fully believe we can hit. But we didn’t really show up.”
The Big Green entered the weekend having gone 56-7 since stadium seating and artificial turf were added to Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park in 2009. The Tigers and Big Red, however, won the last two Ivy League title series, both by beating visiting Dartmouth.
Coach Bob Whalen’s team has three weeks and 12 league games remaining to try and sew up its sixth consecutive Rolfe Division title and take another crack at the championship series and an automatic NCAA tournament berth.
“We didn’t play badly, but we didn’t play well enough to do better than 2-2,’’ said Whalen, whose team hosts division rival Brown in a pair of doubleheaders this weekend. “The Cornell pitchers threw a lot of strikes and forced us to try and beat them with the bat, and we didn’t do it. We need to put more pressure on teams offensively.”
Dartmouth is hitting .251 against Ivy opponents after eight league games, roughly 25 points less than it did last spring. The Big Green is connecting at just a .169 clip with runners in scoring position during Ancient Eight contests, but the good news is that the squad has made only three errors and is holding league foes to a .228 batting average.
Whalen would like to see his pitching be a little less streaky, however, for starters Cole Sulser and Mitch Horacek struggled significantly during parts of the weekend’s first and fourth games.
“We pitched well early on (this season) and in some of our conference games, but some guys haven’t been as consistent as they were earlier,’’ said the 24-year skipper. “We need to work to get them back on track, because right now we’re just not scoring a lot of runs.”
Neither side was scoring during yesterday’s first game, although Dartmouth had eight hits through eight innings. Johnson and Cornell starter Brian McAfee locked up in a classic pitcher’s duel and it wasn’t until the bottom of the ninth that the Big Green broke through against closer Michael Byrne. The reliever entered in the eighth with an 0.69 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 13 innings, but had also issued 11 walks.
Dartmouth’s rally began with two outs when Joe Purritano drew a walk and moved to second on Nick Lombardi’s infield hit. Byrne then melted down, throwing eight consecutive balls to sophomore Matt MacDowell and freshman Trent Goodrich as the crowd hooted, hollered and stamped its feet.
“I went up there thinking I was going to make him throw a strike to me and if he had done that, then I would have looked for a pitch to hit and drive in the run,’’ said Goodrich, an infielder from Arizona. “He just didn’t do it.”
Johnson, who allowed just two singles and never more than one runner during an inning, could understand Byrne’s plight.
“You get behind and you start thinking about it a little too much and all of a sudden, there are guys on first, second and third and nowhere to put the batter,’’ said the Massachusetts native, who threw 73 strikes among his 107 pitches. “Then you get even more tight. I empathize with him, but I’m glad it happened on their side.”
The second game’s happy feelings belonged to the Big Red. Dartmouth starter Mitch Horacek (4-1) suffered his first loss of the season while allowing seven hits and two earned runs in seven innings. Cornell led 2-0 after its first at-bat and scored again in the sixth. The Big Green managed only four hits, two by Lombardi, who also had a pair of them during the day’s first game.
Dartmouth is 17-5 overall and 4-4 in Ivy play. It leads the Rolfe Division ahead of Harvard and Yale, which are both 3-5 in league action. Brown is 1-7.
Notes: The nine-inning opener was broadcast nationally by Fox College Sports, using four cameras, and was the first televised game from Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park. Former Dartmouth football and baseball player Wayne Young, a local attorney, provided color commentary. He normally handles the play-by-play duties on the Big Green radio and online broadcasts. … Thomas Roulis, Dartmouth’s standout second baseman, returned to the lineup Saturday after rehabilitating a hamstring injury. However, he didn’t play yesterday, and Whalen said his status will be determined in the next few days. … Nick Ruppert, a freshman who had been the Big Green’s starting center fielder, could be out for the season with a broken hand after being hit by a pitch last weekend. … Johnson has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his five starts this season, and opponents are batting .172 against him. … Dartmouth hadn’t lost the second game of a home doubleheader since Cornell turned the trick in the second game of the 2009 Ivy League title series.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.