Slenker Homers, Leads Offense
West Haven - The Yale baseball team gathered at the pitcher's mound and piled up in celebration. The Bulldogs just clinched their first Ivy League Red Rolfe Division title in over 20 years.
It was worth the wait.
Yale secured its first division title since 1995 with a 5-4 comeback win Saturday over Dartmouth in a one-game playoff at historic Yale Field.
Both the Bulldogs and the Big Green finished the regular season with an 11-9 conference mark to force the playoff. Yale will now travel to Princeton, the Lou Gehrig Division winner, next weekend for a best-of-three Ivy League championship series. The Bulldogs last conference title came in 1994.
"I have nothing but respect for Dartmouth," Yale coach John Stuper said. "They've won eight times in a row on our half. With the competiveness in our league, that's phenomenal. I'm proud that we're the ones who broke the streak. I'm proud of our guys for playing like this."
Saturday's game finally got underway following a 3-hour rain delay. Yale trailed 4-3 entering the bottom of the eighth. Richard Slenker opened up the frame with a single and moved to third on Harrison White's double to left-center field. Then Lawson plated Slenker with a fielder's choice to tie the game and Tim DeGraw drove in White for the go-ahead run.
Slenker led the Yale offense going 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs.
"He's had three really good years in a row," Stuper said. "He's our three hitter. He plays great defense at third. Dartmouth starting pitcher Duncan Robinson is really good and he got three hits off of him and that kept our offense going."
Alec Hoeschel added two hits and drove in a run, and White chipped in with a pair of hits.
Chasen Ford (5-4) tossed 1 2/3 innings in relief and picked up the win. Freshman Scott Politz, who came in leading the league with six wins, got the start. He went 7 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits. He also had six strikeouts and didn't walk a batter.
"I sent him from practice yesterday because he was so bleary eyed," Stuper said. "Studying and taking tests during finals week, for them to do it in these conditions is pretty special. They never gave up in this game. I couldn't be prouder, I really couldn't."
Saturday marked Yale's fourth win this season over the Big Green.
Yale trailed 2-0 in the fourth. Slenker's home run and Hoeschel's RBI single tied the game. Slenker put the Bulldogs up, 3-2, with a single that scored Nate Adams in the fifth.
Dartmouth tied the game again in the sixth and pulled ahead in the eighth. But the relentless Bulldogs responded and claimed the division title.
"We've been close many times," Stuper said. "Same situation basically. I just want to live in the present. I'm really happy for these kids. These seniors they really have been great. And I'm hoping we can let them end on a really high note."
Filed by Chris Hunn, Yale Sports Publicity