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Bulldogs Win Regular Season Ivy Title, Clinch Home Field for Conference Championship Series

Yale celebrates the Ivy League Championship. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Yale celebrates the Ivy League Championship. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

WEST HAVEN, Conn. -- The Bulldogs clinched their second straight regular season Ivy League title on Friday afternoon in fitting fashion, following a familiar trend.

They received solid pitching, fielded their positions and found a way at the plate to scratch out their 18th win in 21 games in a comeback victory over Penn at Yale Field.  With the win, the Bulldogs earned the right to host the Ivy League Championship Series next weekend.  


"When you play defense and get good pitching you're going to be in almost every game," Yale head coach John Stuper said.  "That's been the story of our season, we're in every game and we try to find a way."


Tim DeGraw singled to left center to score Tom Fuller in the 11th and give the Bulldogs their 15th win in 19 league games.  


Scott Politz delivered a gutty, nine-inning performance to keep his team in the game.  Benny Wanger tossed two scoreless innings to improve to 2-0 on the season with an Ivy-best five saves in league games.


The win continued another theme of bouncing back.  The Bulldogs started 4-14 overall and 0-2 in league play only to clinch the conference title with two games remaining.


"That would have buried a lot of teams, not these guys," Stuper added.  "I'm so proud of them, they battled back."


Griffin Dey, who had a three-hit game, gave the Bulldogs an early lead with a run-scoring single in the first to score Wanger.  The score remained that way until the seventh when Penn plated three runs.


Stuper stuck with his ace and Politz did the rest.  The righty battled through the inning and kept the Quakers off the board over the next two innings. 


"It's easy to pitch when you're up 3-1 in the seventh, but it's really hard to pitch when you're down 3-1," said Stuper of Politz's performance. "You have to believe and you have to keep the other team scoreless from there on to give your team a chance to win, that's when it's really hard to pitch.  And he did that."


Two first-years combined in the seventh to get a run back for Yale.  First-year Teddy Hague started a two-out rally with a single and advanced to third on Dai Dai Otaka's base hit.  Another rookie, Cal Christofori, singled to score Hague and trim Penn's lead to 3-2.


Yale (22-17) used another two-out, no-one-on-base rally in the ninth to tie the score.  Alex Boos began the comeback with a walk.  Senior captain Tom Ruddy pinch ran for Boos, and Christofori followed with a walk.  DeGraw, the next batter, was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  


Simon Whiteman followed and was also hit by a pitch to force home Ruddy.  Wanger came on in the 10th and allowed one hit with two strikeouts.


Wanger has not allowed a run in 15 innings of conference play. 


"Benny has been absolutely lights out since I put him in that closer role," added Stuper. 


Thanks to Wanger, the game remained tied until the Bulldogs put together another string of hits in the 11th.  Fuller and Christofori had back-to-back hits to setup DeGraw for the game-winner.  


After the game, coach Stuper made clear this group of student-athletes continued their trend of getting it done on the field.


"Coaches prepare players for the games, but the players have to win the games," Stuper said. "They have to perform and they did."


The teams will close out the Ivy League regular season with a doubleheader on Sunday beginning at 11:30 a.m.  The doubleheader was originally scheduled for tomorrow, but was moved due to inclement weather forecasted for Saturday.


Report filed by Ernie Bertothy, Yale Sports Publicity