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Dartmouth Cruises to Baseball Championship

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Courtesy of Dartmouth Athletic Communications
Photo Courtesy of Mark Washburn

HANOVER, N.H. -- In the third and deciding game of the Ivy League Baseball Championship, Dartmouth got a stellar pitching performance from freshman Kyle Hendricks (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) and the first career two-homer game for senior Johnathon Santopadre (Vacaville, Calif.) to defeat the visiting Cornell Big Red on Sunday afternoon at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park, 10-0. The last conference title for the Big Green (25-15) came 22 years ago when they won the old Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League.

Hendricks (6-2) pitched with men on base most of the day, but managed to work his way out of trouble every time. In 7.1 innings, he scattered eight hits while walking three and hitting one batter. Add in a pair of errors in the field behind him and a total of 14 Big Red hitters reached base, including two in each of his last six frames. But he induced one double play, picked off one runner and struck out nine, the most by a Dartmouth pitcher this year, to help him with his Houdini act.

"This game began and ended with Kyle Hendricks," stated head coach Bob Whalen after winning his first Ivy title in 20 years at Dartmouth. "He was superb in making big pitches when he needed them and keeping a good Cornell offense off the board. What an effort he gave today."

Big Red right fielder Brian Billigen started the game with a single and promptly stole second. Hendricks calmly wriggled free by getting a comebacker and two harmless fly balls.

In the second, Hendricks hit Frank Hager with a pitch, then picked him off first. He retired the next two hitters for the only inning he faced the minimum number of hitters.

Cornell got a single and a walk in each of the next three innings, only to watch Hendricks keep the Big Red at bay. He struck out Nathan Ford with runners on the corners to end the third, caught Nate David looking at strike three and got Matt Langseth to fly to center to conclude the fourth, then humped one past Mickey Brodsky to close out the fifth.

Meanwhile, the Big Green offense went right to work in the bottom of the first as both freshman Joe Sclafani (Palm Ciy, Fla.) and sophomore Jeff Onstott (Houston, Texas) walked to start the frame. After a tapper to the mound moved them up a base, senior Mike Pagliarulo (Winchester, Mass.) brought home Sclafani with a soft single to right. The second out was recorded on strikes, but junior Jim Wren (Granbury, Texas) delivered a two-run double with Pagliarulo just beating the throw to the plate, giving Dartmouth a 3-0 lead.

Cornell starting pitcher Corey Pappel retired seven straight after Wren's double, but walked senior Ray Allen (Longwood, Fla.) to start the fourth. A double play erased Allen, then Pappel got a grounder to third. But the throw was low for an error, keeping the inning alive. Senior Kyle Evans (Springfield, Mo.) was hit by a pitch, and Santopadre hammered an 0-1 pitch over the left-field fence for a three-run homer and a 6-0 advantage.

In the fifth, the Big Green started another rally with two down and nobody on base. Pagliarulo singled to right-center, and Allen reached on an infield single in the hole at short. The throw to first on the play was wild, allowing both runners to move up to second and third. Again it was Wren who came up with a clutch hit, this time a two-run single to make it 8-0.

Pitching with the big lead, Hendricks went right at the hitters. Domenic Di Ricco and David both singled with one out in the sixth before Langseth and Brandon Lee whiffed. Then a single and an error in the seventh put runners at first and second with one out. Once again Hendricks had the answer, inducing Brodsky to hit into a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play.

Pappel (2-3) was lifted after five innings having allowed eight runs (five earned), and Santopadre greeted reliever Taylor Wood by launching his second homer of the day and fifth of the season to start the sixth. Dartmouth tallied an unearned run in the seventh when freshman Jake Carlson's grounder to short was thrown wildly to first, allowing Pagliarulo, who led off the inning with his third single of the day, to score from second.

When Di Ricco reached on an error and David singled again with one down in the eighth, Hendricks finally gave way to sophomore reliever Dan Ternowchek (Glenmoore, Pa.). The result was still the same as Ternowchek got the final two outs on routine grounders. Sophomore closer Ryan Smith (Greenlawn, N.Y.) allowed just a lead-off single in the ninth before catching Brodsky looking at strike three to begin the Big Green celebration.

Santopadre and Wren drove in four runs apiece, going 2-for-4. Pagliarulo led the Big Green's 11-hit attack by going 3-for-4 while scoring three times.

Billigen was 3-for-5 on the afternoon to finish the season with a batting average of exactly .400.

With the Ivy Championship comes the league's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, which will begin on May 29 at 16 sites yet to be determined. This is the sixth appearance for Dartmouth, which last appeared in a regional in 1987 and in 1970 advanced to the College World Series.

- A.S.