Brooks' Game-Winner Salvages Twinbill Split at ICS
Princeton hurler Zak Hermans cruised through the first six innings of the second game as Princeton built a 4-0 lead. The right-hander allowed just one harmless single and retired 16 consecutive batters after that hit into the seventh inning.
But with one gone in the seventh, sophomore Chris O’Dowd lifted a shallow fly down the third-base line that bounced off left fielder Alec Keller’s glove for a two-base error. Dartmouth capitalized on the opportunity as senior Jeff Onstott cranked a two-run homer to left-center, halving the deficit at 4-2.
Junior David Turnbull stroked a lead-off single in the eighth, but Hermans induced a double-play grounder to seemingly squelch any semblance of a rally. The Big Green bats did not throw in the towel, however, as junior Joe Sclafani ripped a double over the right fielder’s head. Princeton summoned southpaw David Palms to face the left-handed-hitting Sam Bean in hopes of getting the third out. The senior foiled the strategy by slicing a ball toward left-center that skipped past a diving Keller for an RBI double.
The Tigers went with the percentages again, electing to intentionally walk the go-ahead run in the form of the switch-hitting O’Dowd and bring in right-hander Matt Grabowski to pitch to Brooks. The clean-up hitter wasted no time in greeting Grabowski by lacing his first pitch into the left-field corner. The ball rattled around long enough to allow O’Dowd to score from first to give Dartmouth a very sudden 5-4 lead.
In the top of the ninth, Dartmouth turned to senior closer Ryan Smith, the Ivy League’s all-time leader in saves. He retired the first batter on a grounder to short, but Andrew Whitener bunted for a hit despite the protests of Big Green head coach Bob Whalen, who thought the throw from third beat the runner. Smith never showed his displeasure and calmly got the second out on strikes before Keller battled for an eight-pitch walk. With the tying run in scoring position, Smith fanned the final hitter on three pitches to earn his fourth save of the season and 28th of his career.
Princeton scored all of its runs in the first two innings off Dartmouth junior Kyle Hendricks. First, Mike Ford popped a two-out, two-run homer to left-center in the first to score Keller, who had led off the game with a single. In the second, Steve Harrington and Alex Flink each singled to start the inning, and following a sacrifice bunt, Harrington scored on Bobby Geren’s shallow foul pop down the left-field line. Two batters later, Matt Bowman singled home Flink for a 4-0 Tiger lead.
Hendricks (5-3) settled in after that, shutting the Tigers out for the next six innings on just four hits. The right-hander tossed eight innings on the day, yielding a season-high four runs on eight hits with one walk and four punchouts.
In the opening game, the Tigers struck first when Sam Mulroy led off the second with a drive that just cleared the fence in left-center for his seventh home run of the season.
In the fourth, Dartmouth was able to tie the game after Princeton pitcher Mike Ford was visibly upset about not getting a call on either of two pick-off plays at first. O’Dowd, who had walked, was able to just beat the tag twice on those pick-offs with two out, then stole second and took third when the throw sailed into center field. Senior Jeff Onstott then clubbed a full-count pitch over to straight-away center for an RBI double.
The Big Green took a brief lead in the sixth when O’Dowd lined a one-out triple into the right-field corner and trotted home on Brooks’ fly to deep right. But the Tigers countered in the bottom half as Mulroy hit a sacrifice fly to left and Jonathan York hit a ball into left-center that just eluded diving center fielder Jake Carlson for an RBI double and a 3-2 lead.
Harrington led off the seventh with a sharp single up the middle, and after failing to get a bunt down, Nate Baird lofted a fly to left that the wind carried just over the fence for a two-run bomb and some breathing room for Princeton at 5-2.
Dartmouth put two runners on base in the eighth to get the tying run to the plate in the form of Brooks. Ford fell behind 3-0 before coming back to get him to hit a routine fly to center.
Princeton batted around in its half of the eighth, scoring four insurance runs to put the game out of reach.
A.J. Goetz closed out the ninth for the Tigers, giving Ford (5-3) his fifth win of the season. He allowed two runs on five hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts, and helped his own cause by going 3-for-4 at the plate and scoring twice.
Sophomore Kyle Hunter (5-3) suffered the loss, surrendering a career-high nine runs on 15 hits with no walks and five strikeouts.