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Bulldogs Host Stony Brook for Opening Day at Historic Yale Field

Yale celebrates a win. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Yale celebrates a win. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — On Saturday afternoon, historic Yale Field will raise its gates on its 85th season as the home field for the Yale University baseball team, as the Bulldogs play host to Stony Brook in a doubleheader that will open the 2012 home schedule.

The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m., with senior captain Ryan Brenner leading a Yale squad that includes 16 returning players from the group that finished 23-19 overall last season, with a second-place finish (11-9) in the Ivy League's Rolfe Division. The Bulldogs welcome seven freshmen into the fold this season, including three starters.

John Stuper is in the midst of his 20th season as the head coach of baseball at Yale. The all-time winningest head coach in the 147-year history of Yale baseball, Stuper enters the weekend with 382 career victories in the Bulldogs' dugout.

Senior right-hander Pat Ludwig (0-1, Game 1) and sophomore left-hander Rob Cerfolio (0-1, Game 2) are slated to work the two games as the starting pitchers for the Bulldogs, who are in the midst of their 147th season.

Yale and Stony Brook will play a four-game, home-and-home series this weekend, with the two teams completing the set with a doubleheader on Sunday at Stony Brook.

The Bulldogs have played 11 games to date, opening the season with a 3-7-1 record that includes an 0-4 start at Virginia Tech and a 3-3-1 mark on the seven-game trip to Florida that saw the Bulldogs defeat Georgetown (3-2), Bowling Green (11-9) and Lafayette (9-3) at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational.

Sophomore Cale Hanson is leading the Bulldogs at this point in the season, with team-best marks in batting average (.368), on-base percentage (.429), hits (14), sacrifice bunts (4), stolen bases (2). Fellow sophomore Kevin Fortunato is leading the Bulldogs in slugging (.477), hits (14), RBIs (10), doubles (5), home runs (1), total bases (21), and as Yale's primary closer, he also has  two saves in five appearances.

Fortunato is the Ivy League's reigning Player of the Week, while Yale freshman David Toups is the reigning Rookie of the Week. Toups, Yale's second baseman, is third on the team in hitting (.310), slugging (.381), RBIs (6), and is second in runs scored (5), hits (13), total bases (16).

Junior left-hander Nolan Becker is leading the Yale pitching staff in earned run average (1.42), while holding opposing hitters to a team-low .142 batting average. Ludwig is leading the team in innings pitched (14.1), strikeouts (15), and is second in ERA (1.88).

The Bulldogs welcome a Stony Brook team that has opened its season with an 8-5 record, which includes a 4-0 start and four wins in the team's last six games. Senior right-hander Tyler Johnson was selected America East Pitcher of the Week on Monday after tossing 8.0 shutout innings in the Seawolves' 4-0 victory over Kansas last Friday. It was the 25th career win for Johnson, tying him for the most wins in the program's history. Johnson has an 0.82 ERA in three starts this season. The Seawolves' team ERA of 2.36 entering this week ranked 12th in the nation. Senior catcher Pat Cantwell has been named a candidate for the Johnny Bench award, which is given annually to the top catcher in college baseball.

Saturday's doubleheader represents the only two homes games this week for the Bulldogs, who will return to the road for five straight games, including a pair of doubleheaders at Stony Brook on Sunday and at Hartford next Saturday, with a single game at UConn sandwiched in between on Wednesday. Yale will return to Yale Field next Sunday for a doubleheader against Hartford.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity