Maybe the men's baseball team has been tired after a long days of classes. Or maybe it prefers seven-inning Ivy doubleheader games on weekends to the nine-inning non-league games played on weekday afternoons. Whatever the explanation, the baseball team has played poorly in weekday games while triumphing on the weekend.
Yesterday was no exception. After starting its league season on a high note by winning three of four games against Harvard and Dartmouth, Princeton (10-6 overall, 3-1 Ivy League) seemed to be riding a wave of momentum that would carry it through weekday games against relatively weaker teams. Yesterday, however, the team traveled to Rider (12-13), where the Broncs brought that wave of momentum to a halt, beating the Tigers, 8-7, in 10 innings.
Princeton jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning when junior left fielder Jason Koonin tripled to right field and was driven home on a single by freshman right fielder Max Krance. Rider soon struck back, scoring two runs off a pair of Tiger errors in the bottom of the second to take a 2-1 lead.
The Tigers responded in the top of the third when junior first baseman Matt Evans blasted a solo home run – his third roundtripper of the season. Krance then singled, stole second and was driven home on a single by sophomore catcher Buster Small as Princeton regained the lead.
The Tigers seemed to put the game away with a three-run rally in the seventh. With Princeton still clinging to its 3-2 lead, Koonin reached first base on an error and was driven home on senior center fielder Mike Hazen's double to center.
Evans stepped up to the plate next against Bronc pitcher Rich Nelson, who had already given up Evans' second inning blast. Unfortunately for Nelson, Evans put on a repeat performance, hitting the hurler's offering over the left field fence, making the score 6-2. The two-run shot put Evans in the Princeton record book, as he tied the mark for most home runs in a single game.
Rider, however, would not be outdone. In the bottom of the seventh, the Broncs used a double and a triple as well as a wild pitch by senior pitcher Ben Matsil to tally three runs and close the gap to one run.
Let's play nine
Unfortunately for the Tigers, this was not one of their seven-inning games. After an unproductive Princeton eighth inning, Rider scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead, 7-6.
At the top of their lineup and with the game on the line, the pressure was on for the Tigers. Though they were able to tally the tying run, Princeton stranded Evans at third when Small flew out to center.
The Tigers failed to perform in the tenth inning and Rider seized the opportunity with a sacrifice fly by designated hitter Josh Loftin that drove home Phil Ledesma to win the game 8-7.
Princeton performed extremely well offensively, as Evans' 4-for-4, two-homer performance led the way. Koonin, Hazen and Krance also batted well with Hazen getting a double and Koonin a triple.
The trouble for the Tigers were in their defensive play – the team made four errors leading to a pair of unearned runs.
Princeton can redeem itself when it really counts. The Tigers return to Ivy League play this weekend with doubleheaders at Brown and Yale.