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Yale Visits Dartmouth Looking to Join Rolfe Race

Cale Hanson. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Cale Hanson. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs 5 Games Back In Rolfe Standings with 8 Division Games Remaining


HANOVER, N.H. — Eight games remain in Ivy League play over the final two weekends of the regular season, and for the Yale University baseball team, the stretch run begins with a visit to Red Rolfe Division leader Dartmouth for a pair of doubleheaders that start at 12 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Due to the forecast of rain and potential thunder this weekend in Hanover, N.H., Yale's scheduled four-game series at Dartmouth has been moved to Friday and Saturday, with both doubleheaders scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. The four-game series was originally scheduled to be played on Saturday and Sunday.

Dartmouth is 13-15 overall, 7-5 in Ivy League play, which leads the Rolfe Division by three games over Harvard and Brown (both 4-8 in Ivy play) and five games on top of Yale (9-26-1, 2-10).

With eight games left in league play, all against division opponents, both divisions in the Ivy League are still up for grabs. Despite being five games back, Yale can jump right back into the Rolfe Division race with a strong showing in Hanover this weekend. In fact, a strong finish by the Bulldogs can turn a 2-10 Ivy League season into a dream finish.

There is a lot of baseball left to play, and the good news is the Bulldogs have played their best baseball of the season over the last couple of weeks. They are 3-2 over their last five games, including a four-game split with Harvard last weekend that ended Yale's 12-game losing streak.

Sophomore shortstop Cale Hanson has been Yale's best player throughout the season. He enters the weekend with an incredible 34-game streak of reaching base at least once in every game. He failed to reach base in the first two games of the season, but he has reached base at least once in every game since. Counting the final seven games of the 2011 season, Hanson has reached base in 41 of his last 43 games, and 72 of the 78 games in which he has played over the course of his entire Yale career.

In Ivy League play, however, Yale has been able to turn to a few others to carry the load. Freshman David Toups holds the Bulldogs' highest batting average in League play, collecting 13 hits in 35 Ivy at-bats for a .371 average. Senior captain Ryan Brenner holds a .324 average in Ivy play, which includes 12 hits in 37 at-bats, a double and six walks. Hanson has hit .318 in League play.

The Yale bats have also started to show some power in recent weeks. In Ivy play, sophomore Kevin Fortunato holds a .405 slugging percentage with a pair of doubles and one of his two home runs this season. Sophomore Jacob Hunter has a pair of doubles in Ivy play and he hit his first career home run against Sacred Heart earlier this week.

The Bulldogs' pitchers have come through in recent games as well, but none has come through more this season than Pat Ludwig. The senior hurler leads the Ivy League in earned run average (2.50 ERA), strikeouts (50), strikeouts looking (21), and he is third in opposing batting average (.238).

Unfortunately, Ludwig's stellar effort this season has not led to wins for him or for the Bulldogs. He is 0-4 this season, and Yale is 0-7 in games in which he has started. That is mostly due to the lack of run support in those games. Yale has scored a total of 19 runs in his seven starts, including three one-run games in a pair of 2-1 losses and a 4-1 loss.

With the bats coming around in recent games, that could change for Ludwig this weekend.

But against Dartmouth, Yale will need all of the pieces to come together this weekend. The Big Green enters the weekend riding a four-game winning streak. Dartmouth has won nine of its last 11 games after starting the season at 4-13.

Dartmouth enters the weekend hitting .300 as a team, but just a .288 average in Ivy play. The key to Dartmouth's success this season has been its pitching. The Big Green holds with an overall ERA of 4.96, but in Ivy play, that ERA has dropped to 3.75.

Jeff Keller is the team's leading hitter with a .405 average, a .595 slugging percentage and a .470 on-base percentage. In Ivy League play, Joe Sclafani has led the offense with a .429 average, a whopping .810 slugging percentage and a .547 on-base percentage.

However, if everything comes together, Yale has an opportunity to climb back into the race for the Rolfe Division while hurting Dartmouth's chances to claim the division crown. If the weather holds up, it should be an exciting weekend for the Bulldogs and for the Ivy League.

Following the weekend series at Dartmouth, Yale will play three of its last five games of the regular season at home, with a nine-inning game against Holy Cross on Tuesday and a Senior Day doubleheader against Brown on Saturday, April 28, sandwiched around a doubleheader at Brown on Friday, April 27.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity