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Princeton baseball sweeps Dartmouth, tops last year’s win total

Junior outfielder Scott Bandura legging out a triple against Dartmouth. 
Photo courtesy of @PUTigerBaseball/Twitter. 

After winning just seven games in 2022, Tigers baseball (9–11 overall, 3–0 Ivy) notched their seventh, eighth, and ninth wins of the 2023 season in a home sweep of the Dartmouth Big Green (1–16, 0–3 Ivy) over the weekend.

During spring break, the Tigers had taken a trip down the East Coast, first dropping all three in a series against Navy (12–12, 5–3 Patriot) in Annapolis, Md., followed by an 8–3 win at Richmond against the Spiders (11–13, 0–0 A-10). The team then headed to Norfolk, Va., where they suffered two blowout losses against Old Dominion University (20–5, 5–1 Sun Belt). 


In the second weekend of spring break, while the basketball teams were busy dancing at March Madness, the baseball team played a triple-header in Spartanburg, S.C., with two games against Cincinnati (11–15, 0–0 American) and one versus the University of South Carolina Upstate (16–10, 3–0 Big South). Princeton swept the triple-header, the first time they have won three games in a day since 1981. The Tigers concluded their spring break trip with one more game against Upstate; devoid of fresh arms, a series of inexperienced and fatigued pitchers couldn’t hold the Spartans in check, leading to a 22–4 loss.

Following this altogether successful road stint, the Tigers returned to Clarke Field to open their Ivy season against Dartmouth. The Big Green have been miserable this season on offense and on the mound, batting just .232 as a team with a slugging percentage of .330, while allowing opponents to bat .367 and slug .568. The Tigers, in comparison, saw their team average rise thirty points during the spring break road trip, from .233 to .263.

It’s not surprising then, that the story of the weekend sweep was contact-hitting. The Tigers had double-digit hits in each of three games against the Big Green, and each game featured at least three multi-hit games from Tiger position players.

The first game at Clarke Field saw the home team jump out to a second-inning lead, thanks to a Dartmouth throwing error and a home run from junior infielder Nick DiPietrantonio, as well as an RBI single from senior infielder Eric Marasheski. Senior starting pitcher Jackson Emus was not his usual, steady self, surrendering five runs and not making it out of the fifth inning. Luckily, he was relieved brilliantly by five innings of one-run ball from first-year pitcher Justin Kim, whose 2.91 earned run average (ERA) leads the team. Kim’s play earned him an Ivy League Pitcher of the Week award.

Junior first baseman Kyle Vinci muscled a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to put the Tigers back ahead 6–5. Thanks to quality relief pitching from Kim and others, as well as timely hitting, the Tigers have not lost this season when leading after five innings. Friday, that statistic was maintained by more home runs, another from Vinci and one from first-year catcher Jake Bold, as the game ended 10–6. Vinci was named Ivy League Player of the Week, joining Kim as a weekly award winner.

The first game of the Sunday doubleheader featured eleven more hits from the Princeton offense and another multi-hit, multi-RBI game from Vinci. The power hitter from Mendham, N.J. hit an RBI single in the first inning, opening the scoring for Princeton. Scoring early is a good sign for the Tigers, as they are 4–2 when they score in the first inning and 6–2 when they score first. The opponents equalized in the second inning on a passed ball. From there, it was all Tigers. It began with a sac fly for first-year infielder Jake Koonin to regain the lead. 


Fireworks flew in the fifth: first, junior outfielder Scott Bandura laced an RBI triple down the right field line. Next up was the red-hot Vinci, who deposited a hanging changeup over the left field wall. A double from senior catcher Carlos Abello capped the scoring, finishing off an exciting 6–1 win.

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Going for the series sweep in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader, the Tigers kept their foot on the gas on offense, opening the game with a quick two runs in the first, capitalizing not off home runs, but off some good, old-fashioned small ball. 

The small ball sequence: Marasheski singles; senior outfielder Brendan Cumming singles, Marasheski goes first to third; Bandura drives in a run on a grounder to the right side, and beats out the double play; Bold singles, and Bandura scores from first. It’s enough to make any high-school baseball coach smile. The remainder of the game continued in much the same way, Tigers grabbing extra bases, capitalizing off defensive errors, and converting baserunners into runs. It was a fun Sunday afternoon, with twelve hits, twelve runs, and a series victory, 12–4.

With the sweep, Princeton starts 3–0 in Ivy play and sits atop the conference as the only undefeated team. These were games Princeton should have won against a lower-ranked opponent, but they are wins nonetheless, and the Tigers proved themselves as a team organized around contact-hitting and smart baseball. Critics may attribute the success to the poor pitching and defense of Dartmouth. Even so, look for the fun to continue next weekend, against a team that is struggling just as much on the mound, when the Tigers will take on their rival the Harvard Crimson (5–15, 2–1 Ivy) in Cambridge, Mass.

Gabriel Robare covers baseball and is the Head Archivist. They were previously the Head Puzzles Editor.

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