April 28, 2012

Bulldogs Send Seniors Off with Pair of Victories

Ludwig Wins Final Start; Becker K's Ivy Season-High 16 Batters in Sweep of Brown

 

WEST HAVEN, Conn. — The Yale University baseball team could not have dreamed of a better sendoff for its five seniors. Senior pitcher Pat Ludwig won his final start and junior pitcher Nolan Becker struck out 16 batters, a season-high for the Ivy League, to help Yale sweep a doubleheader from Brown at Yale Field on Saturday in the final day of the season.

Ludwig, 0-5 heading into his final weekend in a Yale uniform despite leading the Ivy League in strikeouts and finishing among the top five leaders in ERA, earned his first win of the season, striking out eight batters and allowing just three earned runs to lead Yale to a 5-4 win over Brown in the opening game.

Becker's brilliance and the Bulldogs' patience at the plate led to a 13-7 victory in Game 2. Yale scored five runs in the first inning without the benefit of a hit and added seven more runs in the sixth inning behind several Brown miscues.

With the wins, Yale won its final three games of the season to finish 13-31-1, 5-15 in the Ivy League. Brown fell to 9-33 overall, 6-14 in the Ivy League.

Ludwig can thank freshman David Toups for the victory. Toups belted his first career home run, a solo shot that put Yale on top 5-3 and proved to be the game-winning hit.

The Bulldogs made their mark in the second and third innings, scoring a pair of runs in each inning. Sophomore first baseman Kevin Fortunato led off the second inning with his fourth home run of the season. Cam Squires later drove in Toups with an RBI bunt single to put Yale on top 2-0. In the third inning, Toups and Joe Lubanski each had RBI singles that gave Yale a 4-0 lead.

Brown battled back with a run in the fourth inning on an RBI groundout by John Sheridan. The Bears scored two more in the fifth inning when Will Marcal drove in the first with an RBI single and later scored on a wild pitch, cutting Yale's lead to 4-3.

After Toups' home run made it 5-3, Brown responded with a run in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Cody Slaughter, but Ludwig held on from there.

In the top of the seventh inning, Yale head coach John Stuper removed Ludwig after the first out of the inning, allowing Ludwig to receive a standing ovation as he walked of the mound for the final time in his career. In his place, senior reliever Eric Shultz came on to earn his third save of the season in what was his 24th appearance of the season, breaking Yale's record for most appearances by a pitcher in a single season.

Game 2 was almost solely about Becker. The junior left-hander struck out the side twice and had at least two strikeouts in in six of his seven innings. Of his 16 strikeouts, 10 were swinging strikeouts and six caught the batters looking.

In the first inning, Yale sent all nine batters to the plate, using six walks, a hit batter and an RBI fielder's choice to score its five runs. After the first six batters came to the plate, bringing two runs in on bases-loaded walks by Toups and senior Charlie Neil, starting pitcher Mark Gormley and Brown head coach Marek Drabinski were both ejected for arguing with the home plate umpire. However, by the time Gormley departed from the game, the damage had been done. All five runs were charged to the senior lefty.

Yale added a run in the third inning on an RBI single by Squires and then blew the game open in the sixth inning. The Bulldogs sent 11 batters to the plate and benefited from an error, three walks, three passed balls, a wild pitch and three hits to plate seven runs and open up a 13-1 lead. Chris Piwinski had an RBI double and senior captain Ryan Brenner and Cale Hanson each had RBI singles in the rally.

Brown scored one more run off of Becker in his final inning of work. The Bears then made it interesting with three more runs in the eighth inning and two in the ninth to pull to within 13-7, but Shultz, who made his second appearance of the day and 25th of the season, settled down after early struggles in the ninth inning to close the door on the victory.

Brenner went 3-for-8 with an RBI in the final game of his Yale career, while Neil closed his Yale career with two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Senior reliever Greg Lyons pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowing no hits and no runs in his final appearance in a Yale uniform.

Squires had four hits, including three hits and two RBIs in Game 2. Toups went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored on the day, including 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored in Game 1.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity

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