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Tiger baseball drops three games to Yale

<h5>The Tigers have now lost 16 of their last 18 games.</h5>
<h6>Courtesy of <a href="https://goprincetontigers.com/news/2022/3/27/yale-beats-baseball-in-high-scoring-series-finale.aspx" target="_self">GoPrincetonTigers.com</a>.</h6>
The Tigers have now lost 16 of their last 18 games.
Courtesy of GoPrincetonTigers.com.

After traveling throughout the south for the last month, the baseball team played its first home games and first Ivy League games this weekend, in a three-game set against rival Yale (11–6, 3–0 Ivy). The series was the first baseball game played on Clarke Field in nearly three years. The Tigers lost all three games, dropping their total record to 2–16 on the year (0–3 Ivy).

The team had some momentum heading into the League clash, having picked up their first two wins of the thus-far difficult season in Maryland against Towson last weekend. Both wins came in a doubleheader, in two ultra-high-scoring affairs — Princeton won the first 18–11, and the second 21–8. The combined 39 runs in the doubleheader was a program record. Eight different Tigers had multiple-hit games on the day. Junior outfielder and leadoff batter Brendan Cumming went 8-for-12 with 12 RBIs over the two games; his nine RBIs in the second game were a program record.

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But the offensive momentum did not travel from Towson back to Princeton for the games against the Bulldogs. In the first, on a cold and windy New Jersey morning, neither team could make an impact on offense in the early goings, combining for no runs on four hits through the first five innings. 

The Bulldogs broke things open in the sixth inning, touching up junior starting pitcher Jackson Emus for a two-RBI single and solo home run for a 3–0 lead. Emus otherwise continued an elite start to the Ivy League competition, tallying seven strikeouts in seven innings. Emus had difficulty all day controlling the fastball, so the junior right-hander relied successfully on a bevy of breaking pitches to cut down the Bulldogs.

The Tigers chipped into the lead with a solo homer of their own from junior shortstop Noah Granet, his first of the season. They nearly had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth, down two with one out and runners on the corners, were it not for a woeful baserunning mishap. Junior leftfielder Nadir Lewis hit a sac fly, scoring Cumming from third; junior infielder Alejandro Espinel tried to advance to second on the throw, but with a bad jump the Tiger second baseman was out by three paces. The game ended there, 3–2.

In the next game, both teams showed better offense, but the Tigers were sunk by poor defense and pitching, and lost 14–8. The offense put together 14 hits on the day and for much of the game was within striking distance of the opponent. All three outfielders had multiple hits: three for Lewis, two for Cumming, and three more for sophomore right fielder Matt Scannell. 

Sophomore starting pitcher Tom Chmielewski kept the Bulldogs at bay for the first four innings, but an excessive amount of fastballs over the plate allowed the opponent to score ten runs over the fifth and sixth innings. Despite their success in the box, when they took the field, the Tigers had holes in their gloves, tallying a whopping six errors in the second game, a lousy defensive performance caused partially by extreme cold, rain, and sleet. 

Again — as they do often — the Tigers mounted a late comeback, scoring five runs over the last three innings. But it was far too little and too late considering the mistakes in the field, and the Tigers dropped the back end of the double header.

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The Tigers dropped the third game, too, 13–6. The team continues to be able to score runs in bunches, but does not have the depth in starting pitching outside of Emus to contain opposing offenses. Indeed, the third game’s starter, first-year Andrew D’Alessio, pitched five innings, allowing seven hits, nine runs, and four walks, as well as a balk.

Scannell stayed hot at the plate with another three-hit game, batting .545 on the weekend, after an average of .207 coming into the series. Cumming and Lewis did their thing offensively, with two hits for the former and a team-leading twenty-second RBI for the latter.

But the Yale offense tallied two grand slams among five home runs on the day, which was too much for the Tigers to handle. The offense once again back loaded the scoring, with three solo home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, rounding out the score at 13–6, and starting out the team’s Ivy League record at 0–3.

The team will head to the northern tip of Manhattan to take on the Columbia Lions in a three-game set at Philip Satow Stadium next weekend, looking for their first league win. After a game the following Wednesday at Seton Hall, the Tigers will come home to take on Cornell on April 9.

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Gabriel Robare covers baseball, and is a Staff News Writer, Senior Prospect Writer, and Head Puzzles Editor for the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached on social @GabrielRobare or at grobare@princeton.edu.

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