Big Green Wraps Up Another Rolfe Title
Dartmouth College baserunner Matt Parisi, right, looks up along with Harvard infielder Tanner Anderson for the umpire’s call during yesterday’s second game between the teams. Parisi was safe at second base and the Big Green swept an Ivy League doubleheader at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth College’s Ennis Coble, right, exchanges high-fives with his teammates after their doubleheader sweep of visiting Harvard yesterday at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — The Dartmouth College baseball team captured its sixth consecutive Rolfe Division title yesterday with a doubleheader sweep of archival Harvard. The larger prize of finishing atop the Ivy League’s overall standings will elude the Big Green for a third straight season, but coach Bob Whalen wasn’t bemoaning that fact after his team’s 3-1 and 8-0 victories.
“It’s important to put this game in the rearview mirror, but it’s also important to savor it first,” said Whalen, whose team improved to 29-7 overall and 13-5 in the Ivies. “The players’ four-year careers go by pretty fast, and you want for them to enjoy the moment. For our seniors, all four years they’ve played for the Ivy championship. At some point, when they’re my age, it will mean even more to them than it means now, and I know it means a lot to them now.”
Dartmouth plays its final two league games today at Harvard, but was locked into second place in the Ancient Eight overall when Gehrig Division champion Columbia swept Pennsylvania yesterday to finish first at 16-4. The Big Green will visit the Lions for the Ivy title series beginning with a doubleheader next Saturday. The best-of-three format will continue Sunday with a third game if necessary. Dartmouth won the 2010 league title series, also hosted by the Lions.
“We just have to worry about ourselves right now and get two wins tomorrow, because that will make us better in the long run,” said sophomore second baseman Matt Parisi who, along with Dustin Selzer and Trent Goodrich, had three hits during the second game. “We won two games (at Columbia) already this year, so I’m sure they’re already a little bit pressured, thinking about us coming back.”
Dartmouth pitching ace Cole Sulser was outstanding during yesterday’s seven-inning opener, allowing just three hits while striking out eight Crimson batters and walking two. The senior righthander improved to 5-2 this season and became just the second pitcher in Dartmouth history to win 20 games in a career, joining 1980s star Mike Remlinger, who had 22 victories and went on to play 14 seasons in the big leagues.
“Cole Sulser made one bad pitch in seven innings,” Whalen said. “But he did a good job not letting a couple of mistakes become a three- or four-run inning.”
Said Parisi: “I thought he was overpowering their bats. Pretty much every batter was behind and I was getting a lot of ground balls at second. That means he’s beating them with a fastball and they’re late on their swings.”
The winning hit came from catcher Matt MacDowell, who drilled a two-run double during the fourth inning to put his team up 3-1.
The second game saw Dartmouth score four times in the fourth inning and twice more in the sixth. Lefthanded starter Kyle Hunter (4-1) went seven innings, striking out five and walking one to lower his ERA to 1.66. The Big Green recorded its ninth shutout this season, one shy of the school record set in 1975.
“Kyle Hunter got to both sides of the plate and he changed planes,” Whalen said. “He has such a good changeup that we had the ability to expand the strike zone up and down. He allowed pop-up, ground ball, pop-up, ground ball, but not many of them were hit hard.”
Whalen’s counting on his team’s toughness between the ears to carry it to another two victories this afternoon.
“Your ability to respond mentally is at least as important as your ability to do so physically,” the coach said of competing on back-to-back days. “We tend to play well later in weekends. We don’t lose many fourth games and that’s because we push (the players) so hard in the fall and in preseason.”
Said Parisi: “We just need to go out there and maintain our form and play baseball like we know how to. Nothing different.”
Notes: Dartmouth’s seniors have earned 110 victories during their four seasons, besting the class of 2011 (109) for the most in the program’s history. … The Big Green can set a program record for victories in a season with another doubleheader sweep of the Crimson today. The 2011 team was 30-12. … Harvard batted out of order during the second game, but because an out was recorded, Dartmouth did not protest and the game continued without a fuss. … Selzer’s three hits in game two give him 99 in his career. … Dartmouth has a staff ERA of 1.96 in 18 conference games and 2.49 for the season… Harvard is 10-28 overall and 7-11 in Ivy play.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.