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Elis Rally Past Army, 9-6

Andy Megee (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Andy Megee (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

LAKELAND, Fla. – Junior designated hitter Andrew Moore drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh inning, and sophomore right-hander Greg Lyons allowed just one run over the final 3.2 frames as the Yale baseball team came from behind to beat Army, 9-6, on Sunday afternoon in Lakeland, Fla. as a part of the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. In addition, junior third baseman Andy Megee smacked his team-leading third home run of the spring.

With the win, the Bulldogs improve to 5-2-1. Army, the defending Patriot League Champion and a 2009 NCAA Regional Finalist, falls to 5-3 in defeat.

“We beat a very good baseball team today,” said Mazzuto Family Head Coach John Stuper.

Megee was one of three Yale players to notch two RBI, as sophomore catcher Ryan Brenner and senior centerfielder Stephen Miehls each drove in a pair as well. Junior second baseman Gant Elmore continued his hot hitting out of the leadoff spot with a 3-for-5 performance.

On the mound, freshman lefthander Christopher O’Hare made his second career start. The southpaw scattered eight hits over the first 5.1 innings, allowing three earned runs. He also struck out six batters and walked five. Lyons (1-0) came on in relief and surrendered only four hits and one earned run over the remainder of the contest to pick up his first career victory. The righty recorded four strikeouts and did not walk a batter.

“O’Hare pitched well; he really battled against tough hitters all day,” said Stuper. “And Greg Lyons continues to throw extremely well out of the bullpen.”

Army’s starting pitcher, Ben Koenigsfeld, also turned in a solid start. The junior right-hander, who was the Most Valuable Player of last season’s Patriot League Tournament, struck out nine Yale batters over the first six innings, scattering five hits. He did not allow an earned run before exiting the game with a 5-3 lead. Southpaw Steven Cummings (0-1) relieved Koenigsfeld and gave up four hits and four earned runs while recording just one out to take the loss.

The Bulldogs started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning, as an error by Black Knights’ third baseman Kevin McKague allowed Brenner to reach to begin the frame. Moore then drew a walk before Koenigsfeld retired the next two Elis he faced. But Miehls, making his first start of the season for Yale, came through with two outs with a triple to the gap in right-centerfield gave Yale an early 2-0 lead. Elmore would follow with a base-hit that pushed Miehls across home plate to make it three unearned runs in the frame for the Bulldogs.

Army would promptly cut the deficit in its next at-bat, accumulating two unearned runs of its own. A throwing error by Megee allowed the first run to score and also extended the inning, which gave McKague a chance to atone for his miscue with an RBI single.

Both O’Hare and Koenigsfeld began to settle in on the hill, as the score would stay at 3-2 until the top of the fifth. Army would knot the score in that inning, as a two-out single off the bat of Joey Henshaw brought the tying run around to score.

A bases-loaded jam with one out in the sixth inning saw O’Hare’s day come to a close, as Lyons took over for the rookie left-hander. After Lyons struck out the first batter he faced, Clint Moore delivered a two-run double for the Black Knights to give them their first lead of the game at 5-3.

Army would not touch Lyons for the next several frames, however, as the Bulldogs mounted their comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cummings came on to relieve Koenigsfeld to start the stanza and was greeted by an Elmore single. A fielder’s choice replaced Elmore with Megee at first base, and a wild pitch and a walk issued to junior shortstop Trey Rallis put runners on first and second with one out. Senior first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth kept the rally going with a single that loaded the bases, and Brenner followed with a base-hit to centerfield that tied the game at 5-5. The next batter was Moore, who reclaimed the lead for Yale and chased Cummings from the game with an RBI double. Sophomore left fielder Zach Tobolowsky greeted new hurler Chris Simpkins with a sacrifice fly that plated Brenner as the Elis posted four runs in the inning to claim a 7-5 lead.

After Lyons dispatched of the Black Knights in the top of the eighth inning, Miehls drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the frame and soon dashed to second on an errant pickoff attempt by new Army pitcher Will Haga. The senior speedster would take third base on an Elmore groundout before trotting the final 90 feet at a more leisurely pace thanks to Megee’s towering home run over the left field wall that extended Yale’s lead to 9-5 entering the final inning.

Army would manufacture a run off of Lyons in the ninth, but Yale’s big right-hander closed the door on the Black Knights to complete the Bulldogs’ 9-6 comeback win. Elmore and sophomore Matt Schmidt, who entered the game at shortstop for defensive purposes in the final frame, both made tremendous plays in the field to help preserve the victory.

Yale continues play in the Sunshine State tomorrow against another 2009 conference tournament champion, Indiana from the Big Ten Conference. First pitch against the Hoosiers from Chain of Lakes Stadium in Winter Haven, Fla. is scheduled for 3 p.m.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity