Yale Looks to Punch Playoff Ticket Against Brown
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – With just one weekend remaining, Yale (17-19, 9-7 Ivy) controls its own playoff destiny in a four-game series against Brown (10-20, 4-12). Three wins on the weekend would ensure Yale's spot at the top of the Red Rolfe Division, as it sits two games ahead of Dartmouth (which has four remaining games against Harvard).
Friday's doubleheader will begin at 1:00 P.M. EDT at Brown, and Saturday's will begin at 1:00 P.M. EDT at Yale. The latter is Senior Day.
Yale's three wins over Harvard last weekend kept space over Dartmouth, who split with Brown. The two-game separation allows Yale to win one game less than Dartmouth in the final weekend and still take the Red Rolfe crown.
The full playoff possibilities are listed here:
-Yale sweeps Brown 4-0; automatic Red Rolfe champion
-Yale wins 3 of 4; automatic Red Rolfe champion
-Yale wins 2 of 4; automatic Red Rolfe champion if Dartmouth loses at least one game; one-game playoff with Dartmouth otherwise
-Yale wins 1 of 4; automatic Red Rolfe champion if Dartmouth loses at least two games; one-game playoff with Dartmouth if Dartmouth wins exactly three games; second place in Red Rolfe otherwise
-Yale wins 0 of 4; automatic Red Rolfe champion if Dartmouth loses exactly three games; one-game playoff with Dartmouth if Dartmouth wins exactly two games; second place in Red Rolfe if Dartmouth wins at least three games; one-game playoff with Harvard if Harvard wins all four games
The Live Stats game-tracker can be found at http://livestats.prestosports.com/yale
Last week's note of Yale "winning the close games" became even more accurate after the past weekend. Yale won two crucial extra-inning Sunday games against Harvard, adding to their penchant for winning tight contests. In fact, an extra-inning win this weekend would make Yale the only NCAA team in the country to be undefeated in at least five extra-inning games.
Relievers Cale Hanson and Chris Moates have played large roles in those close wins. Together, the two have combined for all seven Yale saves (4 and 3, respectively). Hanson has held opposing hitters to just a .200 batting average, while Moates has maintained an impressive 2.25 ERA.
Not enough can be said about Chris Lanham (6-1), who has carried the Bulldogs this season as a starting pitcher. This past week, he was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week for the third time this season, a Yale record. He leads the Ivy League in both wins and conference ERA (0.32).
Last Sunday's second win was just the first conference win for Yale in which neither Lanham nor Moates pitched.
At the plate, Richard Slenker and Robert Baldwin continue to hit the ball well. Slenker's .326 batting average is second on the team behind Jacob Hunter, while Baldwin's .324 mark is third on the team.
This past week solidified the quality of Yale fielders. Cale Hanson and Nate Adams were phenomenal in the infield, making numerous diving and difficult plays to cut down Harvard runners. David Toups also threw out a Crimson runner from right field in a key spot in the second Sunday win.
After a rough 0-6 start to the Lou Gehrig side of the Ivy League, Brown has bounced back to win two games against both Harvard and Dartmouth. Three of those four were one-run games.
Freshman Christian Taugner has been Brown's most successful pitcher, starting seven games for a team-high 45 2/3 innings. His 2.76 ERA leads the team, as do his 39 strikeouts. Taylor Wright is Brown's go-to pitcher out of the bullpen. Wright has appeared in a team-high 11 games, with a 5.79 ERA in that time. He has Brown's only save.
Senior outfielder Daniel Massey leads the team in batting average (.289) and slugging percentage (.567), and leads the team in home runs (6). Dan Kerr has been the table-setter, leading the team in on-base percentage (.377) and is just behind Massey in batting average (.278).
Brown's playoff chances have already been extinguished, but their schedule extends past this weekend's series with Yale and all the way to May 6.
Yale swept Brown for the final four games of last season. On Senior Day, captain Chris Piwinski '13 went 4-for-5 to propel the Bulldogs to an extra-inning 4-3 win. In the other home victory, Joe Lubanski went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run to lead Yale to a 9-3 win.
At Brown, David Hickey struck out 10 en route to a complete game 3-1 win in the first game. In the final game of the season, Moates earned his first collegiate win in a seven-inning effort that ended 7-2.
Report by Skylar Shibayama '16, Yale Sports Publicity