Baseball nets another Rolfe title
By Brett Drucker, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, April 30, 2012
The Dartmouth baseball team closed the Ivy League regular season on a high note, winning three out of four games against rival Harvard University and locking up its fifth consecutive Rolfe Division title. The Big Green (22-16, 14-6 Ivy) swept the first two games in Cambridge, Mass. on Saturday before splitting its two games on Sunday as part of the team’s senior day celebration in Hanover.
The Big Green began the Saturday games with the hope of hosting the Ivy Championship Series. In the first game, Dartmouth jumped on the Crimson (12-30, 8-12 Ivy) early. In the second inning, Dustin Selzer ’14 led off with a single, but that would prove to be the only time the ball left the infield. Thanks to a combination of three infield hits, two hit batsmen and a balk, Dartmouth managed to take a 4-0 lead.
This early scoring binge provided a cushion for Dartmouth starter Mitch Horacek ’14, who pitched 6 2/3 innings, surrendering only five hits through the fifth inning.
It was in the top of the sixth that the Dartmouth offense broke the game open with an additional seven runs despite collecting only two hits. Thomas Roulis ’15 had the first hit, a bases-loaded, two-run single to right field, and Lombardi had the other, a three-run double to clear the bases after they had been loaded again, giving the Big Green an 11-0 lead.
Horacek gave up three runs in the sixth before being replaced by Max Langford ’12, who recorded the final out to lock up the victory for the Big Green.
The second game followed a similar progression, as the Dartmouth offense jumped on Harvard’s pitching early, building an 11-0 lead after four innings. Dartmouth hit around in the first, scoring five runs on three hits and an error. After scoring again in the second and third, Lombardi put the game out of reach with a grand slam to center field in the fourth.
“I was looking for something to hit right back up the middle,” Lombardi said. “[The Harvard pitcher] gave me a fastball that was up and in and I drove it. It felt good to hit one like that once in a while.”
Adam Frank ’15 was excellent on the mound for the Big Green, pitching eight strong innings and surrendering five hits and three runs on only 98 pitches. Louis Concato ’14 pitched a scoreless ninth to complete the sweep.
Dartmouth coach Bob Whalen had high praise for Frank’s performance.
“Adam threw exceptionally well the past few days,” Whalen said. “He made excellent pitches with his fastball, and he really controlled his pitches consistently to get some easy outs.”
Both teams headed back to Hanover for a Sunday doubleheader to finish the Ivy League regular season, with the Big Green fighting for home field advantage in next week’s Ivy Championship Series. Saturday’s sweep of the Crimson meant that Dartmouth clinched its fifth consecutive Rolfe Division title.
Jake Carlson ’12 has won the Rolfe Division every year of his Dartmouth career and said that such an accomplishment carries pressure.
“It speaks to the coaching staff who gets us prepared every year,” Carlson said. “Every year, we have a target on our back and they get us ready to meet the challenge.”
Whalen stressed the importance of maintaining a steady competitive approach to games to find success.
“I really try to take care to make certain that the players appreciate what they’ve done, and I want them to feel really good about that because they have earned it,” Whalen said.
Whalen also credited the team’s strong contingent of seniors for leading the group all season and helping maintain the winning tradition.
“To have a really great season, your better and older players have to have their best years, and this year they did,” Whalen said.
On Sunday, Dartmouth dropped the first game of the home doubleheader, 8-7, which knocked it out of the running to secure the best record in the league. The Big Green fell behind early, getting stuck in a 7-0 hole after two and a half innings. The Dartmouth offense did not give in, however, scoring five runs in the bottom of the third thanks to a Jeff Keller ’14 grand slam to bring the game back within reach.
After Big Green starter Kyle Hunter ’13 gave up seven runs (five earned) in the first three innings, the Dartmouth bullpen stepped in with Mike Dodakian ’14 and Thomas Olson ’15 going the last four innings and giving up only one hit between them.
The teams traded shots for the last few innings, but Dartmouth was unable to make up the difference, losing a tough one-run ballgame. The Big Green left two men on base in the last two innings, ending its hopes of hosting the playoff series.
The Big Green rebounded to finish the regular season on a high note in the second game, defeating the Crimson, 8-3. After going down in order in the top of the first, the Dartmouth offense caught fire in the bottom of the second, scoring six runs on four consecutive singles by Matt Robinson ’15, Lombardi, Matt MacDowell ’15 and Carlson while also receiving help from a wild pitch and three Crimson errors.
Dartmouth starter Michael Johnson ’13 gave up only two runs over six innings of work while striking out six. Olson pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to notch his sixth save of the season.
Dartmouth added two more insurance runs in the eighth as Lombardi drilled an RBI double to deep center field.
Dartmouth will now head to Ithaca, N.Y. this weekend to take on Cornell University for the Ivy League championship and a bid to the NCAA tournament. The teams will play a best-of-three series with a doubleheader on Saturday and a third game on Sunday if necessary. Cornell won both games against the Big Green in Ithaca earlier this season, including a 2-0 loss in which Cornell pitcher Connor Kaufmann pitched a no-hitter against the Big Green.
Whalen said that the Big Green are a different team than when it last played the Big Red on April 1 and 2.
“I think that both teams are probably better,” Whalen said. “This team has really worked hard and we are dramatically better.”