Yale Returns to Nutmeg State for Four Games at Hartford

Vinny Lally (Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Vinny Lally (Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Currently riding its best 10-game start since 1993, the Yale baseball team (6-3-1, 0-0 Ivy) will play in its home state for the first time in 2010, traveling to West Hartford, Conn. for a four-game weekend series at the University of Hartford. The Bulldogs and Hawks will play noon doubleheaders from Fiondella Field on Friday and Saturday. Hartford is currently 2-3 in the young 2010 campaign.

Yale’s annual spring trip began with a three-game sweep at UMBC and was highlighted by victories over Army and Indiana, two teams that won their respective conference tournaments last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament., at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. The Bulldogs also knocked off the University of Rhode Island in Florida and played Bowling Green to a rain-shortened 7-7 tie. Miami (Ohio), Akron and Bucknell accounted for Yale’s three losses in the Sunshine State. The Bulldogs’ current record of 6-3-1 is their best since 1993, John Stuper’s first season as Mazzuto Family Head Coach for Baseball. Yale won a program-record 33 games that season and claimed its first of back-to-back Ivy League Championships.

Starting pitching has been one of the biggest reasons for the Elis’ success thus far in 2010. The four projected weekend starters- Brook Hart, Pat Ludwig, Christopher O’Hare and Vinny Lally- have posted a record of 5-1 in eight starts. Hart, a junior left-hander, earned Ivy League co-Rookie of the Week honors after earning the opening day win for Yale. Ludwig, the lone right-hander in Yale’s rotation, is 1-1 with an ERA of 3.00 and an Ivy League-leading average of 11.25 strikeouts per nine innings. O’Hare, a freshman southpaw, is 1-0 after winning his collegiate debut, and veteran left-hander Lally is 2-0 with wins in his first two starts of the season.

Out of the bullpen, sophomore right-hander Greg Lyons and turned in strong performances in all three of his appearances. The 6’4” Texan is the current Ivy League co-Pitcher of the Week after posting the first save and the first victory of his career this past week. Lyons is 1-0 with an earned run average of just 1.04 this season, having surrendered just one earned run in 8.2 innings of relief work. He has also racked up nine strikeouts and is yet to issue a walk.

While solid pitching has certainly kept the Bulldogs in games his season, Yale has definitely won its share of contests courtesy of its explosive offense. The Elis are the only Ivy League squad, hitting above .300 as a team with a sizzling .349 average. Leading the offensive barrage once again is 2009 first team All-Ivy first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth. The 6’6” lefty, now in his senior season, is the team leader in batting average (.462), slugging percentage (.769), on-base percentage (.533), runs batted in (13) and total bases (30). He has driven in two or more runs in five games this season and has piled up two or more hits on eight occasions.

Larsson-Danforth is one of eight Bulldogs to have started all 10 games, and Yale’s top nine players in terms of at-bats are all hitting .300 or better. Junior Andy Megee is hitting .405 and leads all Ivy League players with three home runs. He has also stolen a team-best five bases while playing at the hot corner in every game thus far.

Junior second baseman Gant Elmore has set the table as the Elis’ leadoff hitter, swinging at an even .400 clip with hits in nine of 10 games this season. Junior shortstop Trey Rallis has homered twice and boasts a .382 batting average and .533 on-base percentage, while sophomore catcher Ryan Brenner is hitting .306 with 12 runs batted in.

Junior right fielder Andrew Kolmar, the Ivy League co-Player of the Week after the opening series at UMBC, is hitting .324 with two triples, and junior designated hitter Andrew Moore owns a .389 average and a .556 slugging percentage with six doubles.

The University of Hartford, just five games deep into its 2010 campaign, is led by junior Simon Kudernatsch, the reigning America East Player of the Week. Kudernatsch is batting .565 with five extra-base hits and eight RBI is those five games. Mike Amendola is also batting .500 with one home run and nine RBI through the opening games of 2010. The Hawks have not pitched effectively thus far, though no individual hurler has tossed more than 6.2 innings. As a unit, Hartford boasted a 14.02 ERA with 23 strikeouts, 34 walks and 10 home runs allowed in 43.0 innings of work. Opponents are hitting .440 against the Hawks’ staff.

Next for the Bulldogs is a road contest at intra-state foe Connecticut on March 24. First pitch from J.O. Christian Field in Storrs is slated for 3 p.m. Opening Day at Yale Field will be next Saturday, as Yale hosts the New York Institute of Technology for a noon twinbill on March 27.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity