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Big Green Battle Back Behind Hunter to Force Decisive Game Three

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Junior Kyle Hunter was one out away from recording his second shutout of the year.     By Patrick Shanahan

ITHACA, N.Y. — After Cornell put Dartmouth in a hole by winning the first game of the best-of-three Ivy Baseball Championship Series, 11-3, the Big Green got a terrific performance on the mound from junior Kyle Hunter and timely hitting to draw even in the series with a 7-1 triumph. The victory set up a decisive third game at Cornell’s Hoy Field on Sunday afternoon between Dartmouth (24-17) and the Big Red (30-15-1).

With Dartmouth’s back to the wall, Hunter (3-4) cruised through the Big Red lineup for eight innings, facing just three over the minimum without a runner reaching third base. The left-hander tired in the ninth, falling just one out short of his second career shutout, and departed having surrendered the one run on six hits and one walk while striking out three.

Although the Big Green did not have even one extra-base hit in the second game, the 11 singles, three walks and a hit batter added up to seven runs with a little help from four sacrifice flies. Junior Ennis Coble was 3-for-4 and scored twice, freshman Matt Robinson twice singled and scored, and rookie Thomas Roulis drove in two runs.

Hunter and Big Red starter Rick Marks matched goose eggs on the board through four innings before Dartmouth got to Marks in the fifth. Robinson lined a leadoff single to left, advanced to second on a wild pitch and stopped at third when the shortstop knocked down Coble’s one-hopper to the hole for an infield hit. Up to the plate stepped freshman Nick Lombardi, who yanked a 1-0 pitch past a diving third baseman to break the deadlock. After senior Jake Carlson was hit by a pitch when attempting to bunt, senior Joe Sclafani sent a deep drive to right to score Coble. Roulis followed with an RBI single, and sophomore Dustin Selzer hit a fly ball down the right-field line that was caught just beyond the foul line for another sacrifice fly and a 4-0 lead.

In the sixth, Cornell sent reliever Brent Jones to the hill, who immediately allowed Robinson and Coble to start another rally with singles. A Lombardi sacrifice bunt set up Carlson’s run-scoring fly to center. Junior Chris O’Dowd drew a one-out walk in the seventh, stole second with two gone and sprinted home when sophomore Jeff Keller dumped a ball into shallow left-center for an RBI single. The Big Green tacked on one more insurance run in the eighth, loading the bases with one out for Roulis, who provided the fourth sacrifice fly of the game for a 7-0 lead.

One-out singles in the ninth by Marshall Yanzick and Brian Billigen put runners on the corners. Hunter nearly escaped with his shutout after getting Chris Cruz to pop to second, but Frank Hager turned on a 1-2 fastball, lining it off the fence in left for an RBI double. Freshman Thomas Olson came on to get the final out, getting Brandon Lee to hit a routine fly to center to seal the victory.

Marks (4-4) surrendered four runs in his five innings of work on six hits, a walk and a hit batter, fanning one.

The opening game was all Cornell as Yanzick went 5-for-5 with three RBIs and Brenton Peters scored five times to lift the Big Red to their school-record 30th victory of the season. Cornell starting pitcher Connor Kaufmann (7-2), who no-hit the Big Green back on April 1, maintained his mastery over Dartmouth despite giving up an infield hit to start the game. The right-hander kept the Green off the board through six innings before leaving in the seventh with two out and two men on, both of whom scored after the pitching change. His final line included just four hits and four walks, leading to two runs, with one strikeout.

Cornell jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first as Peters led off with a double, took third on Yanzick’s sinking liner to left for a single, then scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Billigen. In the second, Lee led off with a single, but was still there with two gone when Ben Swinford pulled a shot past a diving third baseman for a single. After Peters walked to load the bases, Yanzick sent a roller right back through the middle for a two-run single. Billigen then drove a pitch to deep left-center for a double, scoring Peter and Yanzick for a 5-0 Cornell lead.

The Big Red chased Dartmouth left-hander Mitch Horacek from the mound in the third when Tom D’Alessandro singled home Hager, who had started the inning with a booming double. Right-hander Mike Dodakian came on to pitch for the Big Green and retired both hitters he faced to keep the score at 6-0.

Dodakian wasn’t as fortunate in the fourth, walking Peters to start the stanza then giving up a single to Yanzick. Billigen’s fly to right sent Peters scampering for third, and Cruz followed with a seeing-eye grounder between first and second for an RBI single.

Dartmouth retired the Big Red in order in the fifth, but Peters continued his assault at the plate with a solo homer to start the sixth, his second four-bagger of the year. When Yanzick singled for the fourth time and Billigen was hit by a pitch, Dodakian was lifted in favor of sophomore Louis Concato. Cruz greeted him with smash off the first baseman’s glove for a single to load the bases, then Hager pulled a ball through the left side of the infield to plate two runs for a 10-0 lead.

Wildness allowed the Big Green to finally dent the scoreboard in the seventh. Freshman Matt Robinson stroked a one-out double into the left-field corner, and when Kaufmann walked Lombardi for a second time, Cornell called for Nick Busto from the bullpen. Busto struggled with his control, however, hitting Carlson to load the bases and walking Sclafani to force in the first Dartmouth run. Roulis poked a full-count pitch to center for a two-run single, but that would be all for the Big Green as Busto got the third out on an infield pop.

Cornell got one last run in the seventh when Peters walked with two outs and came all the way around on a Yanzick double, who tied a Big Red record with his fifth hit.

The Sunday showdown will feature a pair of freshmen on the mound as Dartmouth turns to left-hander Adam Frank (4-1) while Cornell counters with a right-hander in Brian McAfee (6-0).