History, of the Most Unfortunate Sort: Dartmouth Baseball Swept at Home by Penn
Dartmouth's Adam Frank was his team's third pitcher of the came, coming in with one out in the seventh inning during Penn at Dartmouth baseball at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park in Hanover, N.H., on April 6, 2014. Penn won, 4-0. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth's Nick Lombardi doubles in the seventh inning before being left on base during Penn at Dartmouth baseball at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park in Hanover, N.H., on April 6, 2014. Penn won, 4-0. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Michael Danielak picked up a loss while pitching six innings during the first game of the Penn at Dartmouth baseball doubleheader at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park in Hanover, N.H., on April 6, 2014. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — History was made inside Biondi Park at Red Rolfe Field on Sunday, but not the kind the Dartmouth College baseball team enjoyed.
Spread around their dugout and the infield, the Big Green players watched the Penn Quakers celebrate the first-ever doubleheader sweep by a visitor. Penn’s boisterous shouts and smacking high-fives were hard to take, especially given that the 4-0 and 7-4 losses dropped Dartmouth to an uncharacteristic 5-16 overall and 2-6 in Ivy League play.
Senior Dustin Selzer, his eye black smudged and his uniform sweat-soaked, shuffled toward second base and stared into the distance over South Park Street. He was joined by juniors Matt Parisi and Thomas Roulis and, for several minutes, the trio talked in quiet snippets or just gazed about in seeming disbelief.
“Everyone’s a little confused as to why we haven’t been swinging the bats the way we should,” Selzer said half an hour later. “That’s what was going through my mind. That and some frustration, obviously.”
Dartmouth’s team batting average rose from .234 to .252 during the four Ivy League games it hosted over the weekend. But the Big Green went 1-3 against Columbia and Penn, and with 12 consecutive division games to finish the regular season, something needs to change sooner rather than later.
“We couldn’t sustain pressure on offense but the answers to our problems are in our dugout and we’re a team that’s always stayed together,” said coach Bob Whalen, whose program has won six consecutive division titles. “We don’t point fingers and say it’s the hitting or the pitching. Across the board, we just have to do more.”
That being said, Whalen did address his offense, noting that Dartmouth has used hit-and-run tactics and been generally more aggressive in an attempt to jump-start its attack. The approach has produced more base runners but not enough victories.
“We’ve done a better job recognizing pitches and taking more walks and trying to get to advantage counts,” Whalen said. “But we haven’t had enough discipline in those counts to overcome the excitement of wanting to hit a ball hard.
“We’re swinging at pitches we can’t drive and we’re getting ourselves out. Then, when we get guys on base, we haven’t gotten the hit when we need it to score runs.”
Dartmouth’s Michael Danielak, Sunday’s first-game starter, held Penn scoreless before surrendering runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Reliever Adam Charnin-Aker coughed up two more in the seventh, while recording only one out.
The Big Green led the second game, 3-0, after three innings but starter Mike Concato wound up allowing eight hits and five runs in 61⁄3 innings. The Quakers broke open a 4-4 game with three runs in the seventh and won for the 11th consecutive time.
“We’ve already lost more Ivy League games at home this season than we have in (any of) the past three, so this is uncharted territory for us,” said Dartmouth senior Jeff Keller, who had experienced just four such losses entering 2014. “We’re coming up short and it starts with me. A lot of guys aren’t hitting well and we have to figure out how we can go up there confident and swinging the bat looking to drive the ball. We look a little bit defensive at the plate right now.”
Division-leading Yale (12-13, 5-3) comes to town this weekend for a pair of doubleheaders and it wouldn’t be unfair to say Dartmouth is playing for its postseason life. You can’t win an Ivy title this early, but you can certainly lose one.
“Most of the guys in this lineup have shown that they can hit in this league,” Selzer said. “We have to remember that, because hitting’s contagious and once one guy gets going, it spreads to everyone. We have to keep going at it until it goes our way.”
Notes: Dartmouth visits Boston College (10-20) on Tuesday and hosts Holy Cross (10-17) on Wednesday. The Crusaders feature freshman pitcher Joe Cravero. The former Hanover High player has pitched three innings, not allowing a walk, hit or run in facing nine opponents… Dartmouth is 68-14 at home since Biondi Park opened in 2009… Dartmouth had hosted 27 doubleheaders against Ivy opponent prior to Sunday, sweeping 17 of them and splitting the other 10 … The Big Green has hit 10 home runs this season, all of them solo shots … Penn has won the last four meetings with Dartmouth, but the Big Green still leads the teams’ series, 85-82-1.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.