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Baseball wins weekend series over Cornell to begin conference play

Group of players in orange and black celebrating with player in middle yelling.
The Tigers wasted no time jumping out to a strong start in the Ivy League with a series win over Cornell.
Photo courtesy of @PUTigerBaseball/X.

Returning home to a rainy campus, the Princeton baseball team (6–13, 2–1 Ivy League) won a series over the Cornell Big Red (3–11, 1–2 Ivy League), who finished seventh in the Ivy League last year. After a tough start to the season featuring blowout losses against nationally ranked opponents, Princeton looked to turn over a new leaf in conference play. Out-of-conference results carry no weight in the Ivy League standings, so the Tigers’ early-season woes are safely behind them as they enter the most important part of their schedule.

Kim and Shapiro propel Tigers to walk-off win


In the first game of a Friday doubleheader, head coach Scott Bradley turned to Justin Kim, a sophomore starting pitcher who impressed in the Tigers’ opening series before a string of tough results against out-of-conference foes. Kim returned to form for the Tigers, rewarding coach Bradley’s trust with a stellar performance Friday afternoon.

Kim and Cornell starter Carson Mayfield started strong as the game remained scoreless through four innings. In the top of the fifth, the Big Red brought home two runs via a walk and two hits. Kim settled down soon after, getting out of the inning and rebounding in the sixth with a 1-2-3 frame.

“It was impressive to watch how Kim managed the game, his emotions and the momentum in the fifth inning proved to be the key to the game,” pitching coach Joe Haumacher told The Daily Princetonian. “If he hadn’t minimized the damage, it was an inning that would likely snowball into something bigger.”

Down 2–0 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Princeton offense finally got to Mayfield. First-year third baseman Jake Kernodle was plunked to lead off the inning, then showcased some savvy baserunning to reach third on a passed ball. Senior center fielder Matt Scannell drove him in, ripping a single to right to put Princeton’s first run on the board. Not to be outdone, junior left fielder Caden Shapiro smashed a monstrous home run that cleared a truck driving behind the right field fence, putting the Tigers ahead 3–2.

After Kim ended the seventh with a strikeout on a high fastball, the Princeton coaching staff sent Kim back to the mound to begin the eighth. Haumacher cited Kim’s low pitch count as a reason that he and Bradley left Kim out for the inning. Cornell wasted no time capitalizing on Kim’s fatigue, as first baseman Max Jensen smashed a home run to tie the game. The coaches pulled Kim in favor of junior bulk reliever Jacob Faulkner, who has pitched to a stellar 3.18 ERA this season. Faulkner limited the damage, finishing the eighth and ninth innings as the game headed to extras tied at three apiece.


“What Jacob Faulkner has meant to our team is simple: In our 30 wins over the last two seasons, Jacob has appeared in 17 of them,” Haumacher told the ‘Prince.’ “That reliability is unheard of when our series are mostly played three games across two days.”

Faulkner tossed a scoreless frame to open the 10th inning, bringing the Tigers to bat knowing just one run would win them the game. Senior shortstop Nick DiPietrantonio singled to begin the inning, and first-year pinch-hitter Bryce Gayan was hit in the knee with a pitch to send DiPietrantonio to second. The next two Tigers hit into outs, with DiPietrantonio called out on a fielder’s choice to make Gayan the lead runner. With two outs, Scannell worked a walk to load the bases and bring Shapiro to bat with a chance to add to his heroics. He did just that, displaying patience at the plate to draw a walk and bring Gayan home for a walk-off win.

Eighth inning scoring surge propels Tigers to a game two win

After the narrow victory in game one, the Tigers again took the field against the Cornell Big Red Friday afternoon. First-year pitcher Sean Episcope took the mound for the Tigers, whereas Cornell handed the ball to pitcher Noah Keller.

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The top of the first inning ended in dramatic fashion, with Cornell first baseman Max Jensen attempting to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run. Jensen’s attempt to score was unsuccessful, largely due to a powerful throw from Matt Scannell.

“The relay to prevent the run wasn’t anything special,” said Scannell. “We executed a double cut on an aggressive send.”

Cornell opened the scoring in the top of the fourth inning with a two-run homer from catcher Mark Quatrani, sending a hanging breaking ball over the left field wall. Later in the fifth inning, Cornell extended their lead to 3–0 with an RBI single from Max Jensen.

Despite Princeton’s slow start offensively, the Tigers got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning with a sacrifice fly from sophomore infielder Jake Koonin, scoring Caden Shapiro from third base to cut Cornell’s lead to two runs.

In the eighth inning, Princeton’s offense finally woke up. After strong defensive efforts from first-year third baseman Jake Kernodle and first-year shortstop Tommy Googins in the top of the inning, senior first baseman Kyle Vinci sent a fastball soaring over the left field wall to tie the game at three.

“Being able to be in that situation was awesome and being able to come up big for our guys felt great,” Vinci said.

The Tigers continued their scoring run with a single from junior Jordan Kelly, scoring Koonin from third base, and giving Princeton its first lead of the game. 

Princeton held this lead through the top of the ninth inning, largely due to strong pitching from junior pitcher Andrew D’Alessio, and won the game by a final score of 4–3. 

Friday’s win in game two marked head coach Scott Bradley’s 450th career win. When asked about this milestone, Bradley expressed gratitude for those who helped him reach this point. “450 wins means I’ve been here for a long time, and have been blessed with the opportunity to be around some amazing people,” he told the ‘Prince.’ 

With the upward trajectory of the program over the last few years, it may not be long before Coach Bradley reaches 500 victories.

Vinci ties Princeton all-time career home run record but Tigers lose Game Three

Unlike games one and two, Sunday started with offensive action. Caden Shapiro started on the mound for the Tigers and immediately struggled. 

After consecutive singles and after hitting two Cornell batters, Cornell’s Braden Mack hit a two-run double off the left field wall. Minutes later, Cornell’s Jakobi Davis stepped up to the plate with loaded bases and hit a grand slam to extend the Big Red lead to 7–0. 

Ethan Hamill pitched for the Big Red. Despite starting with back-to-back four-pitch walks, Cornell ended the inning with a 5–4–3 double play to keep Princeton off the scoreboard.

When junior pitcher Jacob Faulkner entered in the fourth, Cornell was able to add to their lead with multiple hits to left field. At the end of the fifth inning, Cornell maintained a commanding 10–0 lead.

Sophomore pitcher Will Sword entered the game for the Tigers. An RBI double for Cornell’s Max Jensen extended the lead to 11–0, but Sword ended the inning with a strikeout. Sword finished the game with an impressive five strikeouts.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, senior first baseman Kyle Vinci put the Tigers on the board with a two-run home run. Vinci’s home run tied him with Matthew Evans’s ’99 record for total home runs in a career with Princeton at 26. 

“It’s great to have a spot in the history of the program but the most important thing right now is trying to help the team win any way I can,” said Vinci. 

Game three ended with the final score of 15–2, resulting in Princeton’s first Ivy League loss of the season.

Despite the loss in game three, Princeton had a strong start to the Ivy League season, particularly on the pitching side.

“Justin Kim and Sean Episcope gave us very good starting pitching on Friday,” Coach Bradley said to the ‘Prince.’ “Jacob Faulkner as well as Andrew D’Alessio were both terrific out of the bullpen.”

Princeton will play at home next weekend in a crucial Ivy League matchup against the Yale Bulldogs (4–13, 1–2), who started their conference schedule with a series loss to Dartmouth.

“We’ve yet to really play our best baseball which isn’t ideal, but also exciting because this group is still reaching its potential,” Matt Scannell added.

Joseph Uglialoro is a staff Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’

Joe McGonigle is a Sports contributor for the ‘Prince.’

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