Baseball Begins Defense of Rolfe Titles at Cornell, Princeton
The Games: Dartmouth (3-9, 0-0) at Cornell (7-7, 0-0) / Princeton (5-11, 0-0)
Locations: David Hoy Field (1,000), Ithaca, N.Y. / Clarke Field (1,000), Princeton, N.J.
First pitches: Cornell (DH) — Saturday, March 29 at 11 a.m. (new time) / Princeton (DH) — Sunday, March 30 at noon
Series Record vs. Cornell: Big Green lead 91-80-1
Series Record vs. Princeton: Tigers lead 93-84
Video: Ivy League Digital Network
Complete Weekend Notes
Defense Of Rolfe Titles Begins
Dartmouth has won the last six Rolfe Division titles, the second-longest streak since the formation of divisions back in 1993. Only Princeton’s nine Gehrig crowns from 1996-2004 is longer.
Now the quest for seven straight begins with twinbills at Cornell and Princeton as both teams play their opening weekend at home. During this six-season streak of Rolfe titles, the Big Green have emerged from the games against the Gehrig schools with a record no worse than 4-4. Against the Big Red and Tigers combined, Dartmouth has a 17-7 record in those weekend matchups.
Last Week in Review
• Dartmouth played two three-games series at the home ballpark of Kansas University, first winning one of three against Nebraska Omaha, then taking one of the trio of games against the 18th-ranked Jayhawks.
• In each of the four losses, the Big Green yielded at least 10 runs. For the year, the number of games with double-digit runs for opponents is at six, more than the last two seasons combined (five).
• Sophomore Duncan Robinson was named the Ivy League co-Pitcher of the Week for earning both wins, first going seven innings as a starter in the 10-3 win over Omaha, then twirling two scoreless frames as a reliever in the 3-2, 10-inning triumph at Kansas.
• Freshman Michael Ketchmark hit three triples in the six games — the only three-baggers by any Big Green player thus far this season.
• Three different players belted the first home runs for Dartmouth this year — junior Matt Parisi, then senior Dustin Selzer and finally sophomore Joe Purritano. All were solo shots, and all came in the fifth inning of different games.
• Freshman Mike Concato stepped up in his first collegiate start on the mound, holding #18 Kansas to two runs over eight innings in the 3-2 win.
Last Time Against the Big Red
Both games last year ended with one team shutting out the other. The two teams first played the nine-inning game to accommodate the first televised game from Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park, and viewers were treated to a terrific pitchers’ duel as Michael Johnson held Cornell scoreless for eight innings on a mere two hits and two walks with five strikeouts. The Big Red pitchers matched him frame for frame, however, as Brian McAfee went seven stanzas before giving way to Michael Byrne in the eighth. After Thomas Olson pitched a perfect top of the ninth, Byrne got two quick outs before struggling with his control. Dartmouth loaded the bases on an infield single sandwiched between two walks before Trent Goodrich watched four wide ones sail by to force in the winning run.
In the nightcap, Zach McCulley twirled a four-hit shutout, and the two runs scored in the top of the first were all the Big Red needed in a 3-0 win.
The Overall Record vs. Cornell
• Dartmouth has squared off against the Big Red 172 times, owning a 91-80-1 record.
• The Big Green have won 19 of the past 28 meetings, dating back to the 2002 season. That includes the 2009 Ivy Championship Series, which the Green won, two games to one.
• Cornell is 35-32 at David Hoy Field against Dartmouth since the park opened on April 22, 1922, and 5-4 since FieldTurf was added before the 2007 campaign.
• Dartmouth head coach Bob Whalen has a 32-22 mark in games against Cornell.
• The first games in the series took place on April 10-11, 1906, with Cornell winning both games.
Scouting the Big Red
• Cornell is the only team in the Ivy League with a .500 record at 7-7. But after winning series on the road at Navy, George Washington and James Madison, the Big Red were swept in four games against Sacred Heart last weekend.
• The bats have produced nearly six runs a game, but more than half of those runs were scored in the three-game series at James Madison.
• Four regulars are hitting at least .340, led by Spencer Scorza at .364. He also has three of Cornell’s 11 home runs, second only to Ryan Karl’s five for the team lead.
• Tom D’Alessandro (8-9) and J.D. Whetsel (7-9)have 15 of the Big Red’s 20 stolen bases.
• The pitching staff has posted a 4.07 ERA while holding opponents to a .264 average, striking out 82 and walking 48 in 112.2 innings.
• In the field, the Big Red have a .969 fielding percentage, having committed 16 errors, while turning seven double plays and throwing out 28 percent of would-be base stealers.
Possible Starting Pitchers
• Neither team has announced their starters, so I’m going to guess that the first-game matchup will be Dartmouth RHP Beau Sulser (1-2, 6.06) against Cornell LHP Michael Byrne (2-1, 2.05). Sulser was knocked around a bit against #18 Kansas after a terrific outing against #30 FIU and a solid showing at #27 TCU. Byrne had not surrendered an earned run in his first 21 innings, then Sacred Heart scored six off of him last Sunday.
• For the nightcap, how about freshman RHP (0-0, 3.93) against Big Red RHP Brent Jones (1-1, 3.93) for some ERA symmetry? Concato just handcuffed 18th-ranked Kansas for eight innings, allowing just two runs, in a game Dartmouth eventually won in 10 innings, 3-2. Jones has fanned 20 batters in 18.1 innings, but was stuck with his first loss last Saturday for allowing one run in five innings versus Sacred Heart.
Last Time Against the Tigers
Last year, these two split a doubleheader in Hanover as the Tigers won the opener, 7-1, before the Big Green returned the favor almost exactly with a 6-1 victory in the nightcap. Danny Hoy had three of Princeton’s 13 hits, and Zak Hermans pitched all seven innings of the opener to earn the victory. The only run he allowed came on a Jeff Keller solo blast.
In the second game, lefty Kyle Hunter fanned a career-high 11 batters in eight innings and gave up the one run on just four hits. Keller went 3-for-4 and scored four times, falling a homer shy of the cycle.
The Overall Record vs. Princeton
• The Tigers have the advantage in the all-time series, going 93-84 against Dartmouth.
• Over the last nine seasons, the Big Green have won 15 of the 21 meetings.
• Dartmouth has matched the Tigers at Clarke Field, which debuted in the expansion year of 1961, with the two sides splitting 52 games evenly.
• Dartmouth head coach has a 23-33 record against the Tigers.
• The two teams first met on the diamond in 1880 with Princeton winning both contests, 2-0 and 9-4. The Tigers won 17 of the first 18 games.
Scouting the Tigers
• With four freshmen regularly in the starting lineup, Princeton is just 5-11, but has split a pair of four-game series this season against Michigan and, most recently, Navy.
• Danny Hoy and rookie Paul Tupper are both hitting .333 with the latter owning the team’s only home run, but Alec Keller (.318/.384/.470) is the offensive star for the Tigers that have hit a collective .260/.333/.336.
• Princeton has been an efficient team on the base paths, successfully stealing 11 of its 14 attempts, led by Hoy at 4-for-4.
• The staff 6.78 ERA is ahead of just Dartmouth in the league, primarily as a product of competition. Lefty Michael Fagan is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 22 innings, and freshman Chad Powers has been an effective starter as well despite walking 10 batters in 15.2 frames. Jonathan York has both of the Tiger saves.
• Defensively Princeton has hurt itself a bit with a league-leading 24 errors. The 15 double plays turned have helped offset the 33 stolen bases in 38 attempts by opponents.
Possible Starting Pitchers
• Again I’m merely guessing here, so let’s try out sophomore RHP Michael Danielak (0-2, 6.00) for the Big Green and freshman LHP Keelan Smithers (1-1, 7.85) for Princeton. Danielak is coming off a six-inning start at #18 Kansas in which he allowed 12 hits and six earned runs. Smithers, on the other hand, did not get out of the third against Navy, taking a loss by surrendering five earned runs on eight hits in 2.2 innings.
• For the final game of the weekend, Dartmouth could turn to senior RHP Louis Concato (0-1, 1.80) who was sidelined briefly after posting a quality start at #27 TCU (6.0 IP, 2 ER). The Tigers will likely counter with another rookie in RHP Chad Powers (1-1, 3.45) who has held opponents to a .236 average but walked 10 in 15.2 innings with just three strikeouts.
What’s Up Next
Dartmouth is scheduled to play its home opener against Quinnipiac on Wednesday, April 2, provided the field is clear of snow and ice. Next weekend, Columbia and Penn come to Hanover for Ancient Eight twinbills at noon on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Robinson Earns Ivy Honor
Dartmouth picked up two wins while playing at Kansas University during March 18-23, one against Nebraska Omaha and the other against the 18th-ranked Jayhawks. The winning pitcher for the Big Green in both games was sophomore right-hander . He made his second career start against the Mavericks on March 19, going seven innings and allowing two runs on just four hits and three walks while striking out three in the 10-3 triumph. Four days later, he was summoned from the bullpen to start the bottom of the ninth in a tie game against Kansas. Robinson worked around a two-base error to start the inning, and tossed two scoreless frames to help Dartmouth win the game in 10 innings, 3-2.
Keller Candidate for Senior CLASS
Senior was named as one of the 30 NCAA Division I baseball players chosen as candidates for the Senior CLASS (Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School) Award as announced on March 19. The award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. Keller is an economics major with a 3.96 GPA and last year was the first Big Green baseball player to be named an Academic All-American.
Young Concato Unphased
The first three collegiate appearances on the mound for freshman RHP all came as a reliever, but he got the starting nod in his fourth. The rookie did not get a cupcake for his starting debut either as he attempted to help Dartmouth salvage the final game of the three-game series at #18 Kansas. Concato came through with a terrific performance, yielding a mere two runs over eight innings by scattering nine hits and a pair of walks while striking out three. He did not get the decision, but the Big Green eventually emerged with a 3-2 victory in 10 innings.
In the first 46 plate appearances of his career, sophomore Adam Gauthier had driven in one run. He picked a good time to double his total, dumping a single to right with two outs in the 10th at #18 Kansas to plate junior Bo Patterson from second base with the winning run in the 3-2 game.
Freshman is quickly making a name for himself as a triples specialist. He swatted his first three-bagger of the season in the first game against Omaha, then hit another in the final contest of the series. Two days later, he smacked another triple against #18 Kansas. He currently is tied for the league lead with those three triples (in just 27 at-bats) and is the only Big Green player to hit one this season.
Graham Makes It Look Easy
Normally a corner infielder, junior Jay Graham has been forced into emergency pitching duties on two occasions this year and excelled both times. First, he pitched 1.1 scoreless innings against Omaha on March 20, and the next day he got the final out of the bottom of the eighth against Kansas. That makes five batters faced and five set down for the right-hander.
Lucas ’04 Makes MLB Roster
Ed Lucas ’04 got his first call-up to the big leagues last year with the Miami Marlins at the age of 31 and made the most of his opportunity by hitting .256 with four homers and 28 RBIs in 351 at-bats. This spring, he battled for a spot on the opening-day roster with the Marlins, hitting .333/.415/.500, and was informed he made the cut on March 27. Later that day, however, he was hit by a pitch, breaking his left hand. He will start the 2014 season on the disabled list.