This past weekend, Tiger baseball won their series against Cornell (7–14 overall, 3–6 Ivy), taking two out of three games. That doubled Princeton’s win total for the season, improving their record to 4–21 overall and 2–7 in the Ivy League.
What was the difference? How did the Tigers win two out of their last three games after winning two out of their first 22?
The victory cannot be attributed to one singular change. All in all, the team simply played better in every phase.
In the first game, the team got an absolute gem from junior starting pitcher and strikeout artist Jackson Emus. He paired 10 strikeouts — giving him 46 on the season in seven appearances, 20 more than any other Princeton pitcher — with just one walk, one run, and six hits over six innings of work. Other than a home run in the second, the Big Red never threatened the Tigers.
Emus, at last, received some run support from his offense, too. After the home run in the second inning, the Tiger offense put together some singles, passed balls, and sac flies to take a 5–1 lead. Phenom junior outfielder Nadir Lewis — 3-for-4 with 5 RBIs on the day — came up in the sixth, presumably tired of dink-and-dunk offense, and put the game totally out of reach with an opposite-field grand slam, extending the lead to 9–1. Emus then left the game with a lead that, in the last couple months, he usually only saw his opponents hold.
Each team traded wins late in the game, but Princeton coasted to a 12–3 victory.
The team backslid into their previous losing ways in the second game of the Saturday doubleheader. On that day, Cornell smacked Princeton 7–1.
Sophomore starting pitcher Tom Chmielewski allowed eight hits over six innings and 101 pitches. He didn’t pitch poorly — two of the runs probably could have been avoided without a Lewis error in the fifth. Chmielewski’s pitching kept the game to a five-run deficit. The game was in reach, had Princeton been able to scrounge together any offense. The Tigers managed only four hits on the day, as Cornell starter Spencer Edwards smothered all opposition for eight innings.
But the Tigers rebounded in the final game of the series, getting off to a quick start. Sophomore outfielder Matt Scannell opened the scoring with a three-run homer in the bottom of the first.
Cornell touched up first-year starting pitcher Andrew D’Alessio for three runs each in the second and third innings. In previous games, the Tigers had a propensity to capitulate after such scoring outbursts from an opponent. But this weekend against the Big Red — it was just different.
Junior second-baseman Noah Granet was on his A-game — a three-run triple and two-run single constituted five of the Tigers’ seven unanswered runs. He led Princeton’s own scoring outburst, putting the score at 10–6. The scoring ended there, with sophomore reliever Jason Ramirez pitching four innings of two-hit ball, allowing no runs and fanning four on an efficient 47 pitches.
The offense’s comeback and Ramirez’s elite relief portend better things for the Tigers going forward. Against Cornell, the Tigers didn’t look perfect, or even elite — but they never looked like they were out of the game.
The team looked resilient this weekend, and sometimes, resilient is better than good.
The Tigers will head up to Hanover, N.H. to take on the Dartmouth Big Green in a three-game set this weekend. They play Rutgers in a midweek clash at home. Then, the Harvard Crimson come to town the following weekend against a Tiger team that looks tough to take down.
Gabe Robare covers baseball and is the Head Puzzles Editor, as well as a Staff News Writer and Senior Prospect Writer, for the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached on social @GabrielRobare or at email@example.com.