Big Green Shows Some Grit, Takes Three of Four
Dartmouth College runner Matt Parisi is forced out at second base by Yale's Nate Adams during the teams' Ivy League doubleheader at Biondi Park at Red Rolfe Field. The Big Green split the twinbill and pulled within a game of the Bulldogs in the North Division standings. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth College catcher Matt MacDowell signals to his teammates not to send a relay throw home while Yale's Cale Hanson dives in with a run Sunday. Dartmouth won one of the day's two games, pulling within a game of the Bulldogs in the Ivy League's North Division race. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — The Dartmouth College baseball team passed a substantial gut check Sunday, displaying the necessary intestinal fortitude to tighten the Ivy League’s Rolfe Division race.
After sweeping visiting Yale in a Saturday doubleheader, the Big Green fell, 6-0, in Sunday’s opener. The Bulldogs’ division lead was back to two games and would swell to three with eight regular-season contests remaining if they managed a sweep of their own.
Instead, Dartmouth pulled out a 4-2 victory, Dustin Selzer’s double to left-center field scoring Jeff Keller from first base with the winning run. Duncan Robinson delivered four scoreless innings of relief and the Big Green improved to 10-17 overall and 5-7 in Ivy play, while dropping Yale to 13-18 and 6-6.
“I think we’ve really come around,” said left fielder Bo Patterson, whose team has struggled offensively at times this year and is still batting only a collective 263. “We started slow, but we’re starting to get the hit when we need it with guys on. We were getting eight or nine hits a game, but not at the right time, and now we’re starting to string them together and manufacture some runs.”
Dartmouth concludes its regular season with a pair of doubleheaders at Brown (8-17, 2-10) this weekend, followed by home-and-home twinbills against Harvard a week later. The Big Green may not be as dominant as it has been in recent seasons, but it’s still in the mix for its seventh consecutive division title.
“I felt we had to win three out of four games this weekend,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Whalen, who earned his 499th career victory Sunday. “You’d hope you win four, but that’s hard to do. We got the minimum done we needed to, in order to put ourselves back in the race.”
Sunday’s opener saw Yale starter Chris Lanham (5-1) allow just four hits while striking out four batters and walking none during the seven-inning contest. Dartmouth’s at-bats seemed an endless string of ground-outs and members of the Big Green tipped their caps to their foe.
“He was hitting the (catcher’s) mitt every time,” Patterson said. “You do that and it’s tough not to have it be called a strike. He was getting calls two inches off the plate and when you can do that with multiple (types of) pitches, that’s tough to hit.”
Said Whalen: “He mixed three pitches and made us cover both sides of the plate. When you go into the last inning with only two hits, there’s not much you can say. He just shut us down.”
Michael Danielak, Dartmouth’s sophomore starter, fell to 0-6, allowing six hits and two walks in 51⁄3 innings.
“Mike’s been very good early in games but typically he gets to a certain point where he can’t continue to make a pitch with his fastball,” Whalen said. “That’s strength and conditioning and experience. The kid has good stuff, he just needs to get over the hump and I need to help him.”
Game two was more dramatic and rewarding for Dartmouth and its fans, who endured gusting winds and cloudy skies that made the setting seem chillier than temperatures in the high 40s would indicate.
Mike Concato, Dartmouth’s freshman starter, battled to a scoreless tie through four innings before leaving a breaking ball over the inner half of the plate that resulted in a two-run double. Dartmouth rallied during its half of the inning, Joe Purritano singling and then scoring when a Patterson wind-blown fly dropped behind second base. Adam Gauthier then dumped a flare over the second baseman to tie the game.
Whalen went to reliever Dustin Robinson to start the sixth, and although the sophomore allowed two singles in that frame, he retired the last 10 batters he faced in the nine-inning game. Dartmouth took a 3-2 lead in the sixth when Keller walked and was doubled home by Selzer. The Big Green closed the scoring an inning later when Patterson singled, was bunted to second by Gauthier and singled home by Matt Parisi.
Selzer finished the game with three hits and boosted his batting average to .266, earning praise from his coach.
“He’s done a terrific job of improving the consistency of his at-bats,” Whalen said. “He’s taking walks, which he never did before. He’s been hit by some pitches to get himself on base and moved runners over.
“His hits this weekend came to all sides of the field and he’s handling balls that are down. He’s played the way you need your senior captains to play and it’s not all about numbers.”
Patterson said the whole team has done a better job of hitting, after a week of practice and strategic discussions on how best to battle opposing hurlers.
“It’s not so much a physical change as getting a good pitch to hit, even if it’s the first pitch,” he said. “We were getting too deep into counts and you’re kind of at the mercy of the pitcher at that point, where a good pitch could beat us. We were making a lot of weak contact, as opposed to squaring balls up and driving them.”
Brown, Dartmouth’s next foe, lost its coach last week when 18th-year skipper Marek Drabinski resigned after going 303-464-2 and 6-15 this spring. The Bears split four games at Harvard on Saturday and Sunday.
“I would imagine they’re going to be playing a little looser than they have been and the fact that we’ve had some success against them will (motivate) them,” Whalen said. “It almost doesn’t matter who we’re playing at this point, because we’re playing against ourselves and the game now. Regardless of what they do, we have to handle our business.”
Notes: Dartmouth hosts Massachusetts-Lowell on Tuesday. … Dartmouth junior pitcher Jay Graham is running for student body president, with voting scheduled for today. … Yale coach and former major league pitcher John Stuper apparently runs a tight ship. Early in Sunday’s action, the 22-year bench boss walked down from the third-base coaching box to chastise his players for cursing from the dugout. He later upbraided them for failing to retrieve a foul ball slapped down the right field line.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.