Seven Straight Rolfe Division Baseball Titles for Dartmouth
Courtesy of Dartmouth Athletics Communications
HANOVER, N.H. -- Dartmouth exploded for seven runs in the third and the bullpen surrendered just two runs over 7.1 innings as the Big Green defeated Yale on Sunday afternoon in front of 783 fans at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park, 11-4, in a one-game playoff for the Rolfe Division crown. Dartmouth (18-19) extended its string of division titles to seven with the victory and has won eight straight games overall. The Bulldogs saw their season come to a close with a record of 19-22.
With the victory, the Big Green get a rematch of last year's Ivy Championship Series at Columbia (25-17, 15-5 Ivy), which defeated Penn in a one-game playoff for the Gehrig Division title yesterday, 4-0. The best-of-three series will begin with a doubleheader on Saturday, May 10, with a decisive third game, if necessary, the following afternoon. This is the fourth time in the past seven years these two teams will play each other for the league championship and the right to the automatic berth to an NCAA Regional.
Junior Nick Lombardi provided some of the biggest hits on the afternoon, swatting a two-run triple in the seven-run third, then capping the Big Green scoring with a two-run blast in the eighth to finish the day 2-for-5 with four RBIs. Both senior Jeff Keller and Bo Patterson banged out three singles as ever hitter in the Dartmouth lineup contributed at least one knock to the 14-hit attack.
On the mound, sophomore Duncan Robinson was unexpectedly summoned when his classmate and starting pitcher, Beau Sulser, went down with an apparent elbow injury in the second inning. But Robinson (7-2) shut down the Bulldog lineup and hurled 5.1 innings to win his seventh game of the season, tying him for the league lead.
Yale loaded the bases in the second with one out before Tom O'Neill hit into a force out to get the first run of the game home. Then with a 2-2 count on leadoff hitter Green Campbell, Sulser threw a pitch that bounced well in front of the plate for a wild pitch as he fell to the ground in pain and the second run scored. Robinson then got as much time as he needed to get loose due to the injury to Sulser, and when he finally was ready, he needed just one pitch to get a called third strike and end the inning.
Meanwhile, Bulldog starter Chris Lanham (who threw a seven-inning shutout against Dartmouth three weeks ago) retired six of the first seven hitters he faced before the fateful third. The Big Green began the inning with four straight singles, the last an RBI single up the middle past a diving shortstop by sophomore Nick Ruppert. A wild pitch allowed the tying run to sprint home, and junior Thomas Roulis walked to load the bases again. After Lanham got a called third strike on a full-count curveball for the first out, sophomore Joe Purritano yanked a pitch between first and second for a two-run single and a 4-2 lead.
Yale head coach John Stuper went to his relief ace, Chris Moates, to stem the tide, but Lombardi greeted him with a booming triple to straight-away center on the first pitch, plating two more runs. With the infield pulled in to cut off the run at the plate, Patterson popped a ball into shallow left-center on which the shortstop could not make an over-the-shoulder catch as the ball dropped in for an RBI single, making it 7-2.
Neither team managed a run for the next three innings, but in the seventh, Bulldog right fielder David Toups laid into a first-pitch fastball and drove it over the fence in right-center for a two-run homer, his first of the year. It was the only mistake of the afternoon by Robinson, who retired the next three hitters and finished his 5.1 innings having yielded just four hits and two runs while walking one and fanning four.
Dartmouth left the bases loaded without scoring against Moates and southpaw David Hickey in both the sixth and seventh innings. In the eighth, however, Keller led off with an infield hit, and Hickey was lifted after getting the first out on a popped up bunt attempt in favor of the right-handed Cale Hanson to face the switch-hitter, Roulis. The strategy backfired when Roulis ripped a pitch into the gap in right-center for an RBI triple. Senior Dustin Selzer poked a sacrifice fly to right to make it 9-4, and when Purritano reached on an error, Lombardi took advantage by blasting his team-leading fifth home run of the season high into the netting above the fence in left-center for a two-run shot.
Senior Louis Concato got the final six outs without allowing a hit for the Big Green to earn his first career save (having entered with a three-run lead to start the eighth).
Lanham (7-2), who had the lowest ERA in conference play this year at 1.05, suffered just his second loss of the season after giving up six runs on five hits and a walk in 2.1 innings with just one strikeout. Moates struck out six in his 4.1 innings of work, allowing a single run on six hits and two walks. Toups and Jacob Hunter each had two hits to lead the Bulldogs at the plate.