Baseball head coach Scott Bradley believes in stressing the basics. Hitting. Pitching. Fielding. These are the cornerstones of any winning baseball team. Yesterday, this was exactly where his team was lacking.
Up 6-1 after the top of the fifth inning against Rutgers, the Tigers (7-4) could not hold on, allowing nine runs to score over the next four innings. For Princeton, small lapses added up, resulting in a 10-6 loss to the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway.
"Sometimes all you have to do is get an out or make a pitch," Bradley said. "We also had the opportunity defensively to get out of innings. We just didn't do it today."
The Tigers' downfall began in the bottom of the fifth, when Princeton errors extended the inning for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights capitalized on the bonus chances, scoring three unearned runs off senior pitcher Ben Matsil.
The next two innings weren't much prettier.
Junior right-hander Pat Henning relieved Matsil in the sixth, only to give up five earned runs on five hits in two innings. He gave up a three-run home run to Rutgers' Adam Neubart in his first inning of work, relinquishing the Tiger lead for good.
The final half of the game was a 180-degree reversal of the situation in the first half, however, as the Tigers jumped to a quick five-run lead.
Sophomore left-hander Jay Tedeman led the team early, providing strong pitching for the first three innings. His one-hit performance provided the backbone of the quick lead.
After a two-run fourth, Princeton scored four runs in the fifth. With two outs, senior center fielder Michael Hazen singled, junior first baseman Matt Evans doubled and freshman designated hitter Max Krance singled in two runs. Rutgers' pitcher Rich Kennedy then continued his slide, giving up a single and three consecutive walks to force in two more runs.
In the eyes of Bradley, however, this loss is less important than some of the upcoming games.
"We make or break our season in the Ivy League games," Bradley said. "Our number one objective in midweek games is to keep guys sharp. We have enough confidence in all our players that we think we can throw anyone out there and still win."
Time on the mound was the original goal for the pitching staff, who entered the game with a predetermined workload. Each of four pitchers was allotted only a couple innings, assuring them of some time, but not too much. As a result, they could remain in practice, but still be available for this weekend's games.
The Tigers open their Ivy season this weekend with two important home doubleheaders. They face perennial powerhouse Harvard Saturday and Dartmouth Sunday at Clarke Field.