Baseball team continues winning ways against Holy Cross
By Brett Drucker, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, April 12, 2012
The Dartmouth baseball team added another solid win to its record yesterday, defeating the College of the Holy Cross, 4-2, in a quick game that lasted just over two hours at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park. With the victory over the Crusaders (18-15, 5-3 Patriot), the Big Green (9-14, 4-4 Ivy) maintained its perfect 17-for-17 non-conference home game record since the ballpark was renovated before the 2009 season.
The early innings of the game had the makings of a classic pitcher’s duel. The only Dartmouth run through the first six innings came on a Jeff Keller ’14 solo home run to right field in the second inning. The opposite-field blast came with two strikes, a situation in which Keller has been working to improve. Keller’s work has paid off so far, as the sophomore boasts an Ivy League-leading batting average of .434.
“I’m putting the ball in play, which gives you so many more opportunities,” Keller said.
Dartmouth coach Bob Whalen said he expected Keller to perform better now that he has recovered from a back injury that limited him to just 27 games last season.
“He’s doing a very good job getting to advantage counts, and when he’s getting good pitches to hit, he’s not missing,” Whalen said.
The Dartmouth advantage didn’t last for long, as the Crusaders steadily chipped away at the lead, scoring runs in the fourth and sixth innings. Dartmouth starter Louis Concato ’14 pitched well, allowing only the two runs in 5 2/3 innings of work. Concato was efficient, retiring the first batter in all six of his innings on a total of just nine pitches.
In the seventh, Whalen handed the game over to his bullpen, which handled the rest of the game with relative ease. Max Langford ’12, Mike Dodakian ’14 and Thomas Olson ’15 combined to give up only two hits over the last 3 1/3 innings. All of the pitchers have been important in relief for the Big Green so far this season, and Whalen stressed that it is important for them to get work in midweek games to prepare for the conference games that follow each weekend.
With the Crusaders stalled, the Dartmouth offense finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs to put Dartmouth ahead for good.
The rally started with a leadoff walk by Matt Parisi ’15 that opened the door for Dustin Selzer ’14, the star of Sunday’s doubleheader against Columbia University. Selzer drove a curveball straight over the head of the center fielder for an RBI triple, and Keller followed this up with his third hit of the game, a single up the middle that scored Selzer. Keller scored later in the inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Thomas Roulis ’15.
Although the game did not count in the Ivy League standings, the Big Green managed to stay focused on securing the victory.
“We try to play with the same sense of urgency [as a conference game], but it’s hard to do that,” Keller said. “We were a little flat at the beginning, but once we knew we had a chance to win, we try not to let games like that slip away.”
The day also featured some impressive defensive play from the Big Green as catcher Matt MacDowell ’15 caught a runner stealing in the second. Parisi later flashed the leather in making a diving stop on a ground ball at third base before recovering in time to throw the batter out at first.
Whalen, who had been expecting a tough challenge out of Holy Cross, said he was pleased with the way his team approached the game.
“We competed at the plate very well today and put a lot of balls in play with two strikes,” he said.
Dartmouth heads down to Providence, R.I. this weekend for a four-game set against Brown University, with doubleheaders starting at 12 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. The Big Green currently sits a game ahead of the Bears in the Rolfe Division of the Ivy League, and this weekend’s matchup looks to be very important in terms of securing the all-important berth to the Ivy Championship Series.
The field at Brown is known for being small and windy, factors that Keller said will increase the competitiveness of the games.
“On defense, we need to make sure we get off the field, and on offense, we need to know that we are never out of a game if we get down,” he said.
Whalen said he has faith that the team will block out the pressure of a division matchup and simply play ball.
“We’ve focused less on the drama of the weekend as just trying to play our best baseball,” Whalen said. “I think our kids will rise to meet the challenge as opposed to being consumed by the gravity of the weekend.”