Sports

Winless in Ivies, baseball team trounces Saints and preps for homestand

Columbia and Penn sweep Bruno before Bears win home openers against Siena

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, April 4, 2014

After experiencing an offensive power outage against Ivy foes Columbia and Penn, the Bruno bats surged in the Bears’ home opener against Siena, outscoring the Saints 14-7 and 4-3 in the Thursday doubleheader.

The baseball team dropped its first four Ivy League games this week, but rebounded to sweep a doubleheader against Siena College in its home opener Thursday in front of its conference home games against Princeton and Cornell this weekend.

 

Columbia: Monday, March 31 

In the first game against Columbia (8-14, 2-2 Ivy), Bruno fell victim to a seven-inning, complete-game shutout by Columbia starter and 2013 First Team All-Ivy pitcher David Speer. In five starts, Speer has a 3.00 ERA in addition to an impressive .833 walks plus hits per inning pitched, or WHIP, and a strikeout to walk ratio of 14. He was untouchable, giving up just three hits and no walks while striking out seven.

The poor offensive showing means Bruno squandered one of the best performances of the season from Anthony Galan ’14 (L, 1-2). He allowed only one earned run, but three unearned, on seven hits in six innings. The Bears were trailing just 1-0 until an error led to three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth on a triple, sacrifice fly and home run.

In the late game, the Bears were mowed down once again by an excellent Lions pitcher. George Thanopoulos tossed eight two-hit innings while striking out nine and walking two. On the season, his numbers are eerily close to Speer’s: 2.66 ERA and .836 WHIP with a 3.75 K/BB ratio.

The Bruno pitchers threw well once again, but it was for naught. Christian Taugner ’17 (L, 1-3) allowed two earned runs, amazingly the most he has allowed in a start this season, on five hits and a walk while striking out seven over seven innings. In relief, Austin French ’16 allowed two runs on three hits.

“We ran into two real good pitchers,” Head Coach Marek Drabinski. “I wasn’t that disappointed.”

 

Penn: Tuesday, April 1

The Bears fared better with the bats the next day but still lost both games of the doubleheader against the Quakers (11-10, 4-0), again by identical scores, 3-2. The losses dropped Bruno to 0-4 in Ivy League play.

Game one was somewhat reminiscent of the two Bruno had played in New York City the previous day. The offense hit a bit harder, with six total hits including a hit and RBI each from catcher Josh Huntley ’17 and centerfielder Robert Henry ’17. The pitching was strong too, as Dave St. Lawrence ’15 (L, 0-3) gave up three runs in six innings on ten hits while striking out six in the complete-game loss.

Despite the improved showing in both aspects of the game, it was ­— just narrowly — not enough. Penn starter Connor Cuff held the Bears in check, allowing two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings, and while Bruno scored in the sixth and seventh innings to make things interesting, it could not complete the comeback.

The next game, as indicated by having the same final score, was quite similar. Bruno reached base 10 times including six walks, but again could only cash in on two runs. Huntley, Jake Levine ’16 and Nick Fornaca ’15 each reached base twice, with two walks for Huntley and a walk and a hit for Levine and Fornaca.

Bruno continued to control the Penn offense, as starter Lucas Whitehill ’14 (L, 1-2) allowed three runs in 7.1 innings on just three hits, a walk and six strikeouts. Max Ritchie ’17 also retired the only two batters he faced.

Drabinski was generally happy with his team’s execution, but felt that the offense suffered from a lack of timeliness.

“I thought our pitching and defense were good all four games,” he said. “We didn’t get that big hit.”

Specifically, Drabinski said the team believed it let the second game against the Quakers slip away. The Bears had the bases loaded with two outs in the ninth, down 3-2, but Henry struck out to end the game.

“We all felt we could have won that one,” Drabinski said.

 

Siena: Thursday, April 3

The Bears took out their frustration over their Ivy losses with two wins over the Saints (5-20, MAAC 5-1) in their first two home games of the season.

In the first game, the Bears seemed determined to make up for all the runs they failed to score earlier in the week, smashing Siena 14-7.

Eight of Bruno’s nine batters recorded at least one hit as the team combined for 15. Henry and J.J. Franco ’14 each had three hits and scored three runs, and Dan Kerr ’15 was 1-3 with two runs scored and a three-run homer that helped break the game open in the sixth. The Bears entered the frame tied 7-7, but scored seven runs on two home runs, by Wes Van Boom ’14 and Kerr, and eight hits to crush any hope of a Saints comeback.

The pitching situation was interesting, as five pitchers took the mound for Bruno, and none recorded more than five outs or allowed more than two runs. French started the game and got four outs before he was pulled after allowing two runs on one hit and four walks. He was succeeded by Jake Spezial ’17, Taylor Wright ’15, Nathan Mann ’15 and Ritchie (W, 1-0) for five, three, five and four outs, respectively.

In the nightcap, the Bears eked out a thriller, winning 4-3 despite a late Siena comeback attempt.

Henry continued his offensive success, with two hits and an RBI, while Huntley, Franco, Kerr, Van Boom and Fornaca also contributed hits. Bruno had seven hits and drew four walks, but did not score past the third inning.

Ritchie started the second game and allowed just one run on two hits in two innings. Chris Smith ’15 (W, 1-0) relieved him and pitched four strong innings, but recorded no outs in the seventh inning, putting two runners on that would eventually score. Spezial entered but gave up a hit to the lone batter he faced and was pulled for Wright, who got three outs to earn the save and end the game.

Bruno’s three errors during the game made play a bit tougher, which frustrated Drabinski. But overall, the coach was satisfied with the two wins.

“I was pleased with the sweep,” Drabinski said. “It gives us some momentum going into the weekend.”

With their busy week behind them, the Bears now turn their focus toward their weekend homestand against Princeton and Cornell. Bruno will take on the Tigers in a doubleheader Saturday, and the Big Red in two games Sunday.

The Tigers (7-12, 2-0) have a losing record, but are 2-0 in the Ivy League after sweeping Dartmouth last weekend. They hit a decent .259/.327/.331 as a team, and are led by sophomore infielder Danny Hoy with his stellar .365/.420/.514 line. Their pitching is less inspiring, as they have a 6.50 team ERA, 1.77 WHIP and 1.12 K/BB ratio. But the Tiger pitchers allowed just three runs over two games to the Big Green in their contests last weekend, so they are certainly no pushovers.

The Big Red (10-10, 2-2) are a remarkable 8-4 on the road, and having played just four home games all season, Cornell is accustomed to the traveling life. It opened at home against Dartmouth and Harvard last weekend, going 1-1 against each. The team has played a relatively easy schedule so far, contributing to some strong statistics. Cornell’s team batting line is an impressive .281/.357/.408, and no individual showing is better than Ryan Karl’s .312/.369/.636, which includes five home runs. The team’s pitchers have combined to post a solid 3.54 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.

Drabinski said that to win, the team would need to keep playing as well as it has and to tighten up a few aspects of its game.

“We’re going to have to pitch like we did last weekend, we’re going to have to clean it up a little defensively from (Thursday),” he said. “I’ve got confidence that our offense will come around.”

The key to success, Drabinski said, was the clutch hitting that the Bears lacked this past week.

“It just comes down to timely hitting, because the games are so close in our league and the teams are so close competitively,” he said. “It comes down to the team that capitalizes on (its) opportunities.”

The Bears’ first game is against Princeton, Saturday at noon.

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