April 7, 2009

Bulldogs Split With Sacred Heart

April 7, 2009

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. - With Red Rolfe Division play beginning this weekend, the Yale baseball team entered Tuesday's non-conference doubleheader against Sacred Heart looking to build upon its Sunday sweep of Ivy League opponent Penn. The Bulldogs got 6.2 innings without an earned run from sophomore left-hander Vinny Lally en route to a 5-3 win in game one, but the visiting Pioneers edged Yale with an 8-6, extra inning victory in the nightcap.

With the split of the two seven-inning contests, the Bulldogs move to 9-13 on the season. Sacred Heart now sits at 10-16-1 in 2009.

Junior first baseman Trygg Larsson-Danforth and senior center fielder Stefan Schropp each notched three hits in the twin bill. Larsson-Danforth hit his fifth home run of the season, a two-run shot to improve his team-best RBI total to 22. Freshman shortstop Matt Schmidt drove in three runs on the day.

In game one, freshman left fielder Charlie Neil jump-started the Yale offense in the bottom of the second inning with an infield single. He would move to third on a pair of groundouts, then came home on a base-hit through the left side of the single by Schmidt.

While Lally continued to cruise, another lead-off hit for the Bulldogs created a run in the bottom of the fourth frame. Junior designated hitter Chris Sweeney doubled to right field to start the rally, and sophomore right fielder Andrew Kolmar singled to move him to third. Senior catcher Davis Stanley then knocked Sweeney home with a groundout to push the lead to 2-0 in favor of the home team. Two batters later, Schropp singled down the line in left field to bring Kolmar around to score with the Elis' third run.

In the fifth inning, Yale played a bit of "small ball" to build a comfortable five-run cushion. Sophomore third baseman singled up the middle to lead off the inning and promptly stole second base to move into scoring position. After Larsson-Danforth walked, Neil dropped down a picture-perfect bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Sweeney then dropped a base hit into shallow center field to plate Megee, and a balk by Sacred Heart starter James Ineson brought Larsson-Danforth home.

With one out in the top of the seventh inning, the Pioneers nabbed their first hit since the second frame with a single by Tyler Santos. Phil Tantillo followed with a base hit, and Frank Bainer reached on an error to load the bases. A groundout by Robert Griffith gave Sacred Heart its first run of the day, and closed the book on Lally.

John Stuper, the Mazzuto Family Head Coach for Baseball at Yale, then called upon freshman closer Eric Shultz to finish up the contest. Shultz surrendered a double to Mike Olszyk that plated two runs, but Shultz struck out Mike Drowne looking to wrap up a 5-3 win for the Bulldogs.

Lally pitched the first 6.2 innings of the game, allowed four hits and no earned runs to improve to 3-2. The southpaw struck out three batters and walked one. Ineson surrendered 11 hits and five earned runs to fall to 0-1. Shultz earned his third save on three chances.

"I was very glad to Vinny get back on track and pitch up to his potential," said Stuper of Lally's performance.

In the nightcap, Sacred Heart got on the board first as a Santos' solo home run put the visitors ahead, 1-0, after a half-inning.

Yale answered in the bottom of the third frame, as a Schropp lead-off walk set the table for Larsson-Danforth's two-run roundtripper that gave Bulldogs a 2-1 advantage.

The fifth inning was the biggest frame for the Pioneers, who pushed five men across home plate. MJ Schifano belted a deep sacrifice fly to plate the first run of the inning, and Santos singled to account for a second Sacred Heart run. The big blow in the inning was a three-run home run by Olszyk that made the score 6-2.

Larsson-Danforth singled to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning, and sophomore Andrew Moore was hit by a pitch to move the 6'6 junior to second with one out. Kolmar singled to the shortstop to load the bases, and Sweeney grounded out to bring Larsson-Danforth around to score. Another Eli came up big with a two-out hit in the frame, as Schmidt knocked a two-run single to score Kolmar and sophomore Harry Koulos, who pinch ran for Moore. The base-hit cut the deficit to a single run at 6-5 entering the last inning.

After Shultz pitched a scoreless seventh inning to preserve the one-run margin, Megee walked with one out to start the Bulldogs' rally. After Megee stole second base, Larsson-Danforth walked to put the winning run on base. Neil then came through with the biggest hit of the game for Yale, as he singled between the third baseman and shortstop to plate Megee as the tying run and send the game into extra innings.

While the Bulldogs were the benefactors of late-inning heroics on Sunday in the form of a Larsson-Danforth walk-off home run, Yale came up on the short end of a close game on Tuesday. Hunter Phillips reached on an infield single with one-out in the top of the eighth inning, and came all the way around to score on a trio of Shultz wild pitches in the frame. A fielding error, one of two defensive miscues in the half-inning, plated another run to bring the score to its eventual final of 8-6. Olszyk pitched a perfect bottom of the inning to close out the Elis.

Bobby Shepherd pitched the first 5.1 innings for the Pioneers, allowing four earned runs on four hits. Schifano tossed 1.2 innings in relief, surrendering three hits and two earned runs, to earn the win in his first decision of 2009. Olszyk's save was his first of the season.

Freshman Pat Ludwig made his first collegiate start of Yale. He allowed six hits and three earned runs over 4.1 innings of work. Shultz allowed one hit and one earned run in two innings to fall to 1-1.

The Bulldogs, who are 4-4 in Ivy League play, resume Ancient Eight play over the weekend, as they travel to Cambridge, Mass. for noon doubleheaders at Harvard on both Saturday and Sunday.

report filed by Drew M. Kingsley, Yale Sports Publicity

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