Baldwin, Hanson and Lanham Share MVP
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale baseball team held its year-end banquet on Tuesday, honoring nine players with team awards. Senior shortstop/right-handed pitcher Cale Hanson (Katy, Texas), the team's captain, earned a pair of honors, including the George H. Walker, Jr. '27 Award as most valuable player -- an award that he shared with junior catcher Robert Baldwin (Austin, Texas) and sophomore right-handed pitcher Chris Lanham (Houston, Texas). Hanson also won the Paul Sortal Award, which is given to the player who maximizes his ability to the fullest.
The banquet comes on the heels of a season where the Bulldogs won 19 games, their most wins since 2011. They won 11 games in Ivy League play, also their best since 2011. After finishing in a tie with Dartmouth for first place in the Rolfe Division, the Bulldogs' season ended with a loss to the Big Green this past Sunday in a one-game playoff for a spot in the Ivy League Championship Series.
In earning the two awards, Hanson capped a career that saw him contribute in every phase of the game -- offensively, defensively and on the pitcher's mound. This year he came back from an injury that limited him in 2013. He wound up being one of only two Bulldogs to appear in all 41 games, and he led the team in hits (39) and runs (26) while batting .265. He also served as one of the team's top relievers, notching a team-best five saves in 15 games while posting a 3.60 ERA. He scored a pair of runs and got the save in one of Yale's most memorable wins, the 8-7 upset at then-No. 1 LSU on Mar. 2. With runners on second and third in the bottom of the ninth for the Tigers, Hanson came on to get the final out.
Hanson, who was a second team All-Ivy selection as a sophomore and an honorable mention All-Ivy pick as a junior, made just five errors and had a .973 fielding percentage this season. But even those statistics do not fully capture the impact he made defensively.
"I cannot say enough about Cale," said Yale head coach John Stuper. "I'm not sure there is a reliable stat to gauge how many runs he saved us this year. We played LSU, Stetson and many other good teams and I did not see a better defensive shortstop. We would not have been in the Ivy League divisional playoff without him."
Hanson, who met President George H.W. Bush '48 -- a former captain and first baseman for the Bulldogs -- prior to this season, is an economics major in Pierson College. Prior to Yale he attended Loomis Chaffee.
Baldwin enjoyed a breakout season, taking over as the team's starting catcher and establishing career highs in every offensive category. While missing just one game, he led the team in doubles (10), homeruns (three) and RBI (22) and was second in hits (38). His .456 slugging percentage placed him ninth in the Ivy League, and his .304 batting average was 11th. He had a pair of RBIs in the upset at LSU.
Baldwin is a political science major in Morse College. Prior to Yale he attended Westlake High School.
Lanham emerged as one of the most dominant pitchers in the Ivy League, posting a minuscule 1.05 ERA in league games while striking out 27 and walking just four in 34.1 innings. His overall numbers included seven wins (tied for first in the league) along with a 3.77 ERA and 46 strikeouts (10th in the league). He allowed only two homeruns while hurling a team-leading 62 innings.
Lanham is in Calhoun College. Prior to Yale he attended Lamar High School.
"The breakout performances by Robert Baldwin and Chris Lanham were really nice to watch," said Stuper. "They both return, so that bodes well for us."
The Raymond W. (Ducky) Pond Pitching Award, which was established in 1971 and is presented to the pitcher who has made the greatest contribution to the team during his career and who best exemplifies the qualities and excellence of "Ducky" Pond '26, went to senior left-handed pitcher David Hickey (Darien, Conn.).
Hickey, one of Yale's weekend starters for two straight years, struck out 40 in 49.2 innings this season. He finished his career with 106 strikeouts in 130.1 innings. In 2013 he was a second team All-Ivy League selection, leading the team in strikeouts (35), wins (four), complete games (three) and shutouts (two) and leading all Yale's starters with a 2.15 earned run average
Hickey is a history major in Davenport College. Prior to Yale he attended Darien High School.
The David M. Darst Hustle Cup, which is presented to the freshman "who made the greatest contribution to the baseball team through desire, enthusiasm and hustle," was awarded to third baseman Richard Slenker (Pound Ridge, N.Y.).
Slenker was a regular at the corner infield spots for the Bulldogs despite battling an injury. He led the Ivy League with a.414 on-base percentage and finished second in the league with a .352 batting average. A disciplined hitter, he struck out just 12 times in 105 at-bats.
Slenker is a member of Branford College. Prior to Yale he attended Fox Lane High School.
The Burnat-Grass Teammate Award was given to senior left-handed pitcher Rob Cerfolio (Birmingham, Ala.). The award is given to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of toughness, hard work, character and integrity, while putting the team above himself." The award is named after former Yale baseball players Kyle Burnat '05 and Nick Grass '05.
Cerfolio was injured this season, but nonetheless remained an integral part of the team and helped Yale's younger pitchers develop. In 2013, he finished second among Yale's starters with a 2.94 ERA, won the Coach's Award and was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 33rd round of the Major League Baseball Draft.
A history of science, history of medicine major in Morse College, Cerfolio attended John Carroll Catholic High School prior to Yale.
Senior infielder/right-handed pitcher Kevin Fortunato (Wall, N.J.) and junior outfielder Joe Lubanski (Collegeville, Pa.) shared the Coach's Award, which is given to the players who personify Yale Baseball in their desire for team success and unity.
Fortunato came back from an injury to appear in 26 games this season, getting 44 at-bats and also throwing 13.1 relief innings. He had a double and a pair of RBIs in the upset at LSU. He appeared in 109 games for his career, registering 62 career hits. As a pitcher he struck out 39 in 55.1 innings.
Fortunato is a political science major in Berkeley College. Prior to Yale he attended Wall High School.
Lubanski had his season cut short by injury, but nonetheless appeared in 14 games and made a memorable diving catch Yale's 1-0 win in the first game of doubleheader sweep vs. Harvard on Apr. 20.
Lubanski is an economics major in Saybrook College. Prior to Yale he attended Malvern Prep.
Senior right-handed pitcher Michael Coleman (Lawrenceville, N.J.) was honored with the Martin Griffin Award, which was instituted four years ago by Joe Conway '80 and Fred Berg '66 in honor of their mentor, Martin I.J. Griffin. The award is given to the graduating senior who is the team's most outstanding scholar-athlete.
Coleman, one of Yale's weekend starters for the second straight year, threw 47.0 innings while tying for second on the team with nine starts. That included five innings of work in Yale's 7-6 win over Harvard in the second game of the doubleheader sweep on Apr. 20.
The banquet also marked a final chance for the Bulldogs to bid farewell to their seniors: Cerfolio, Coleman, Fortunato, Hanson, Hickey and first baseman Jacob Hunter (Tucson, Ariz.). After being injured Apr. 1 and missing 19 games after that, Hunter battled to get back in the lineup for the final three games of the season. He finished with a .346 batting average, .393 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage in 22 games.
"We took a step this year," said Stuper. "We lose a great senior class who played a huge role in that step, but I think we have a chance to better next year. I expect us to be in the hunt and hopefully take that next step of an Ivy Championship."