Dartmouth Ready for Rolfe Division Playoff
The Game: Dartmouth (17-19, 11-9) vs. Yale (19-21, 11-9)
Location: Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park (2,000), Hanover, N.H.
First pitch: Sunday, May 4 at noon
Series Record vs. Yale: Bulldogs lead 120-91-1
Live Video and Audio: Big Green Insider on the Ivy League Digital Network — Wayne Young, play-by-play
Complete Weekend Notes
Talk About a Playoff
For the first time since 2001, Dartmouth is playing in a one-game playoff to determine the Rolfe Division winner. The Big Green won their final six Ivy League games to catch Yale in the standings. Since Dartmouth won three of the four games against the Bulldogs back in mid-April, it earned the right to host the playoff.
But this is not the only playoff this weekend as Columbia and Penn are playing a winner-take-all contest in Philadelphia on Saturday to determine the Gehrig Division champion. This is the first time in 22 seasons of division play that the Ivy League has had two playoffs in the same season.
The winner of this game will play in the Ivy Championship Series next weekend at Columbia, which defeated Penn in Philadelphia on Saturday, 4-0. The best-of-three series will begin with a doubleheader on Saturday.
Last Week in Review
• Dartmouth trailed Yale by two games in the division standings to start the weekend, but managed to catch the Bulldogs by sweeping Harvard while Brown split a four-game set with Yale.
• The Bears swept the first twinbill against Yale on April 25, opening the door for the Big Green, who were rained out in Cambridge the following day. Dartmouth ended up playing the first doubleheader of the series in Hanover, winning a pair of two-run games, 4-2 and 3-1, with the second victory coming courtesy Matt Parisi’s walk-off homer, the first walk-off bomb for the Green in nine years.
• Yale took two from Brown the same day that Dartmouth and the Crimson began their series, meaning the Big Green had to win both games on Tuesday at Harvard to tie for the division lead.
• Dartmouth did just that, thanks to a season-high nine-run inning in the first game for a 9-0 whitewash, followed by the third two-run game of the series, a 5-3 triumph.
• The four-game sweep extended Dartmouth’s winning streak to seven games, the seventh straight year the squad has strung together at least seven consecutive victories.
• Michael Concato earned a share of the league’s Rookie of the Week honor for the second straight week for twirling his second straight shutout. He is the first Dartmouth pitcher ever to earn the rookie honor twice, and seventh Big Green player to do so since 2000.
Last Time Against the Bulldogs
Dartmouth and Yale played their four-game series in mid-April with the Big Green taking three of four. But that one Bulldog victory was Yale’s first at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park after losing 10 straight at the facility that was renovated in 2009.
Beau Sulser went the distance in the opener, striking out five in his seven innings, Nick Lombardi launched a pair of home runs in an 8-2 Dartmouth triumph. Lombardi drove in four runs with those bombs, and Dustin Selzer added three RBIs as the duo provided most of the run production.
In the second game, the Big Green roughed up four Yale pitchers, banging out 13 hits in a 12-3 win. Louis Concato threw a career-high eight innings, yielding three runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts. At the plate, Selzer had a single, two doubles and two more RBIs, while Thomas Roulis drove in three. Each of the top five hitters in the Dartmouth lineup had at least two hits.
The third game belonged to Bulldog starter Chris Lanham, who tossed a four-hit shutout, one of three blankings for him on the season. The right-hander needed just 79 pitches to dispose of the Big Green, and Richard Slenker drove in the first two runs in a 6-0 victory. Michael Danielak had limited the Elis to just one run on one hit over the first five frames before getting roughed up in the sixth.
The series finale was the closest game with Dartmouth prevailing, 4-2. The Bulldogs put two on the board in the fifth on a two-out, two-run double by Slenker, but Adam Gauthier answered in the bottom half with a two-out, two-run single to knot the score. Selzer continued his hot hitting in the series with the go-ahead double in the sixth, and provided an insurance run with an RBI single in the seventh. Dustin Robinson got the win in relief, tossing four scoreless stanzas to close out the game.
The Overall Record vs. Yale
• The two teams have met 212 times on the diamond with the Bulldogs leading 120-91-1, although Dartmouth has won 17 of the last 23.
• The Big Green are 11-1 against Yale at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park since the renovation in 2009. Since 2000, the Elis are 5-27 in Hanover.
• Dartmouth is 51-39 at home against the Bulldogs since 1930.
• Big Green head coach Bob Whalen enters this game with a 47-43 mark versus Yale.
Scouting the Bulldogs
• Although Yale could not hold its two-game lead in the final weekend of the regular season, the Bulldogs did manage to win their final two contests by one run each to force this playoff.
• Yale hit .263 as a team this year but hit just five home runs while averaging 4.3 runs per game. In league play, the Bulldog scoring dropped to 3.8 runs per game.
• Richard Slenker leads the team with a .356 average, but Robert Baldwin was the toughest out the last time Dartmouth played Yale. The catcher is hitting .314 and leads the team with 10 doubles, three homers and 22 RBIs.
• The Bulldogs have the worst team ERA in both Ivy games only (4.82) and overall (5.75), but that is of little consequence in a one-game playoff.
• Should Yale go to the bullpen, expect to see either Chris Moates or Cale Hanson. The former leads the team with a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings and has saved three games, while the latter (the team’s shortstop as well) is more of a one-inning specialist with a team-berst five saves and 3.14 ERA.
• Defensively Yale has been solid in conference play with a .974 fielding percentage while allowing just eight unearned runs (second only to Dartmouth) and turning a league-high 16 double plays. Overall, however, the Bulldogs have committed 49 errors and are fielding at a .966 clip.
Probable Starting Pitchers
• Dartmouth has decided to send sophomore RHP (3-4, 5.32) to the mound for the pivotal game. Aside from a disastrous start at Brown, Sulser has been very dependable against the ivy League and has the best control of the starting staff with a team-high 32 strikeouts and just eight walks on the season.
• Yale will counter with RHP Chris Lanham (7-1, 3.05), who has only thrown three shutouts among his five Ivy starts, one being a four-hitter against the Big Green. But after allowing just one run in his first four conference starts, he did surrender three in six innings against Brown, though he still picked up his league-leading seventh victory.
What’s Up Next
Whichever team wins this game gets to continue its season at the Ivy Championship Series on May 10-11 at Columbia, which defeated Penn in a one-game playoff for the Gehrig Division title, 4-0.
First Playoff for Green in 13 Years
Only once previously has Dartmouth played in a one-game playoff for the Rolfe Division crown, that coming against Brown in 2001. The Big Green prevailed in that game, also played in Hanover, by a final of 7-2. The playoff with Yale is the seventh divisional playoff (including the Columbia-Penn game on Saturday) since the Ivy League went to a two-division format in 1993.
Seven-Game Win Streak
By sweeping Harvard in the four-game series, Dartmouth extended its season-long winning streak to seven games, a total the Big Green have reached in every season at least once since 2008. Perhaps coincidentally, Dartmouth has won the Rolfe Division in each of those years with a seven-game winning streak. A win over Yale would make it seven straight division titles, second only to Princeton (9, 1996-2004) for the longest such streak in league history.
Hex Over Harvard
The four-game sweep of the Crimson also continued the Big Green’s recent mastery over their travel partner. Dartmouth has won the last nine games in the series and 17 of the last 18 between the two. Yet thanks to dominating the series in the early years, Harvard still maintains a record of 129-117 against the Big Green.
Purring in the Clutch
With a team-leading 24 RBIs, it should not be a surprise to know that sophomore Joe Purritano has thrived in clutch situations this season. The lefty-swinging designated hitter is hitting a solid .319 with runners on base, but an even better .381 with runners in scoring position. And with runners in scoring position with two out? A mind-boggling .611 (11-for-18)!
Engaged in a scorelesss duel at Harvard in the sixth of a seven-inning game, the Dartmouth bats exploded for nine runs for the only scoring in the game on April 29. and Jeff Keller both scored twice with Parisi starting the inning with a walk and later was hit by a pitch. Keller, on the other hand, singled before capping the inning by belting his second career grand slam. Coincidentally, both of his grannies have come against the Crimson.
Concato Case of Déjà Vu
For the second straight week, freshman Mike Concato tossed a seven-inning shutout to earn Ivy League co-Rookie of the Week honors. This time the right-hander blanked Harvard, scattering seven hits and a walk while striking out three. He is the first Big Green pitcher to win the honor twice, and the seventh Dartmouth player since 2000, joining , Zach Bellenger ’13, Joe Sclafani ’12, Jeff Onstott ’11, Scott Shirrell ’04 and Mike Mleusnic ’03.
Dartmouth won its third walk-off game this season in a 3-1 victory over Harvard on April 27. With the score tied at one and a runner on second with one out, junior belted the first pitch he saw into the netting over the left-field fence at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park for a game-winning, two-run homer. It was his second walk-off hit this year, having delivered a walk-off single against Holy Cross on April 9. The last Big Green player to have two walk-off hits in a season? Jeff Onstott in 2011. The last one to hit a walk-off homer? John Huelskamp in 2005, with his only home run and all three RBIs he had for the season.