April 5, 2009

Larsson-Danforth Blasts Bulldogs Past Penn

April 5, 2009

Game 1 Box Score |  Game 2 Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale baseball team was just two outs away from dropping game one of Sunday's doubleheader against Penn, but junior first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth swatted a walk-off, two-run home run to propel the Bulldogs to victory and an eventual sweep of the Quakers. The Elis got two home runs from Larsson-Danforth and one from sophomore outfielder Andrew Kolmar on the afternoon.

With the sweep, Yale improves to 8-12 overall and evens its Ivy League record at 4-4. The wins mark the first doubleheader sweep for the Bulldogs, as well as the first consecutive victories overall and the first victories at Yale Field this season. Penn falls to 10-16 overall and remains winless at 0-8 in the Ivy League.

"I was very disappointed in the way we played yesterday [swept by Columbia]," said John Stuper, the Mazzuto Family Head Coach for Baseball at Yale. "To come back and play as well as we did today says a lot about this team."

Larsson-Danforth was among four Bulldogs to notch three hits on the afternoon, joined by sophomore second baseman Gant Elmore and freshmen Charlie Neil and Matt Schmidt. Larsson-Danforth drove in four runs and scored three times in the twin bill.

The Bulldogs got on the board first in the seven-inning first game of the doubleheader, as Elmore walked with one out in bottom of the first inning to start-up the offense. Two batters later, Larsson-Danforth crushed his first roundtripper of the afternoon to give Yale a fast 2-0 advantage.

The Quakers answered in their next turn at-bat, as Will Gordon led off the frame with a home run to right field. A pair of two-out walks set the table for James Mraz, who singled to left field to tie the game at 2-2.

Yale came right back in its half of the second inning, adding three runs to grab a 5-2 lead. Kolmar and Stanley drew consecutive one-out walks, and Schmidt singled through the right side of the infield to bring Kolmar around to score. Senior captain Stefan Schropp then grounded out plate Stanley, and Elmore doubled down the left field line to drive in Schmidt.

Penn cut the deficit by a run in the top of the fourth inning, courtesy of an Adrian Thomas groundout that knocked in Will Davis, who led off the inning with a base hit. The top of the fifth was the Quakers' biggest offensive inning, as Tom Grandieri started things off with a single up the middle. Dan Williams then reached on an error, and Jeremy Maas, the Ivy League's leading hitter at .457 entering the day, smacked a three-run home run to give Penn its first lead of day at 6-5. Yale starter Brandon Josselyn settled down get out of the inning without allowing further damage, and posted a zero in the sixth inning as well.

The Quakers threatened to extend their lead in the top of the seventh inning, as Davis connected with a one-out single that chased Josselyn from the game. Stuper turned to his closer, freshman Eric Shultz, to keep his team in the game. Shultz allowed a pair of singles, neither of which was hit particularly well but both of which found holes in the infield, to load the bases, but struck out Mraz to retire the side and keep Yale within a run entering its final at-bat.

Elmore led off the inning with a single, and was replaced at first by speedy outfielder Stephen Miehls. The junior advanced to second base on a wild pitch, a move that put the tying run in scoring position. Two batters later, with the left-handed Larsson-Danforth coming to the plate, Penn Head Coach John Cole played the percentages and called upon the southpaw Grandieri to trot in from right field and pitch to the Yale slugger. Larsson-Danforth, who entered the game hitting .545 (6-for-11) against left-handed pitching, laced into a pitch and deposited it well over the left field wall to give the Bulldogs a come-from-behind 7-6 win.

"Trygg came up huge today," said Stuper. "Not just with the walk-off, but also with his home run to give us an early lead and his play at first base."

Josselyn pitched the first 6.1 innings for Yale, scattering 10 hits and surrendering five earned runs. The senior right-hander tallied nine strikeouts and issued three walks. Shultz earned the first win of his collegiate career, allowing two hits, no runs and recording a strikeout in 0.2 innings of work.

Todd Roth worked 6.1 innings for the Quakers, allowing six hits and six earned runs. He struck out seven batters and walked four. Grandieri pitched to just one batter, allowing Larsson-Danforth's walk-off shot to fall to 1-3.

Larsson-Danforth finished up at 3-for-4 with two home runs, four RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. Elmore and Schmidt each went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

In the nightcap of the twin bill, sophomore Andy Megee moved over from third base to make his first start of the season on the hill for Yale. Megee surrendered a lead-off double to Mraz, who eventually came around to score on a wild pitch and give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead. That double, however, was the only hit that Megee would allow over the first four innings, as he retire the side in order in the second, third and fourth frames.

Yale knotted the score in the bottom of the first frame, as Elmore roped a one-out double to put himself in scoring position. Megee then helped his own cause with a single up the middle that brought Elmore around to score.

While Megee continued to cruise on the mound, the Elis put together a five-run bottom of the third inning that essentially put the game away. Megee hit a one-out single to start the rally and took second when the center fielder mishandled the shot up the middle. Neil then singled to score Megee, and freshman catcher Ryan Brenner walked to put runners on first and second base. Neil and Brenner would trot home the rest of the way, as Kolmar then smoked a Chris McNulty offering over the left field wall for his third home run of the season. After Miehls drew a walk to extend the inning, Schmidt smacked a double to left center that brought him the home all the way from first to give Yale a 6-1 lead.

Megee surrendered a lead-off single to William Gordon in the top of the fifth, and then issued a pair of walks to load the bases with one out. The sophomore finished his outing strong, however, by striking out Mraz and inducing a Grandieri fly out to escape the jam unscathed.

A two-out rally resulted in another run for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Larsson-Danforth drew a walk and later scored on a Neil single.

Penn would add a run in the eighth inning and two more in the ninth, but the Bulldogs early run stood up, as the home team completed the sweep with a 7-4 victory.

Megee allowed two hits and one earned run over the first five innings to move to 1-0 on the season. He struck out five Quakers and walked three. McNulty fell to 0-2 after allowing six hits and six earned runs over the five innings of work. He recorded three strikeouts and issued five walks.

"Andy was great today," said Stuper. "I had to take him out after five innings because of his pitch count, since it was his first start of the season, but the bullpen came in and did a great job as well."

Freshman Greg Lyons and junior Robert Gruber combined to pitch the final four innings of the win.

Neil went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored in the game. In addition to his pitching performance, Megee went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a run scored and two stolen bases.

"This is the best that we have looked all season," said Stuper. "This is the team that needs to show up the rest of the way."

The Bulldogs return to the diamond on Tuesday, as they host Sacred Heart for a pair of seven-inning contests beginning at 3:30 p.m. Ivy League action resumes over the weekend, as Yale will play noon doubleheaders at Harvard on both Saturday and Sunday.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity