A weekend downpour pushed back the Tigers’ start to Ivy League play to this past Tuesday. But — not to jinx it — spring and baseball have arrived. Here are our rankings of the eight Ivy baseball teams based on early season competition and the first few in-league outings.
(Note: At the time of publication, the scores for the games on April 1 were available, but not all statistics had been updated)
- Columbia (8-14 overall, 2-2 Ivy League): While not quite prohibitive favorites this year, the Lions took last year’s title in convincing fashion. Strong on the mound and deep, the city ballers have what it takes to be the first Ivy team to repeat as champions since Dartmouth in the 2009-10 seasons. Lefty starter David Speer and righty Joey Donino were on the first- and second-team Ivy League squads last year and racked up strikeouts. Lefty reliever Thomas Crispi has the most Ks coming out of the bullpen this season.
- Cornell (8-9, 2-2): The Big Red dropped all four games of its spring break series against Sacred Heart. While the Cornell bats only managed six runs over that period, they showcased their firepower the week prior with an absurd 46-run performance at James Madison. On the mound last season, righty Zach McCulley had an in-league 1.70 ERA with a record of 4-2. For his efforts, he earned a first-team all-Ivy nod.
- Dartmouth (4-12, 1-3): Jeff Keller provides a big presence in the outfield. The righty slugger set the league pace in six offensive categories, and his .702 slugging percentage ranked fifth nationally last year. In front of him, three Dartmouth infielders made the College Madness Preseason All-Conference Team: Matt McDowell, Joe Purritano and Matt Parisi.
- Princeton (7-11, 2-0): The Tigers picked up a pair of wins over the Big Green Tuesday afternoon. A good deal of this team’s defensive success will depend on the progression of the young pitching rotation. Sophomore righty starter Cameron Mingo, who picked up the win in part two of Tuesday’s doubleheader, will be the staff’s presumptive ace. He ranks second on the Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects list for the Ivies. While senior outfielder Alec Keller leads the team offensively, freshmen outfielders Danny Baer and Paul Tupper have posted very impressive starts with respective batting averages of .342 and .333. Both have received Ivy Rookie of the Week Honors this season.
- Harvard (4-13, 1-1): Local product outfielder Jack Colton leads the Crimson offense in his third season in Boston. Classmate and fellow outfielders Mike Martin and Brandon Kregel were listed on CollegeSportsMadness.com as preseason second-team all-Leaguers. Harvard split its opening series with Cornell. Ten straight home contests come next on the schedule for this squad, who could possibly compete near the top of the table.
- Yale (9-11, 2-2): Having come off a 10-10 effort last season, the Bulldogs have impressively pulled off a pair of early season wins against reigning champion Columbia. Offensive struggles persisted throughout the 2013 campaign, as the Bulldogs generated only 130 runs on a .249 batting average. In his final year, lefty David Hickey will team up with Rob Cerfolio and Michael Coleman, rotating on the mound for Yale. This pitching trio will be a strong suit for the New Haven side.
- Penn (10-10, 4-0): Impressively, the Quakers have four wins in four Ivy outings. Having ended last season on a 0-7 losing skid, this momentum shift is precisely what the Philadelphia side needs to get back into competition. Outfielder Ryan Deitrich took his talents to North Carolina to play for Duke in his fifth year — he took a redshirt year as a freshman. He will not be easy to replace. All-Ivy honorable mention catcher Austin Bossart will quarterback the defense and attempt to get the Penn bats going.
- Brown (4-10, 0-4): A four-loss start was not what this Bears side needed to get back into Ivy League play. Outfielder Matt Marcal is the sole returner who earned league honors in 2013, receiving a second-team nod. In his third year, Marcal and his side will have to hope that they have made the necessary adjustments to get out of the statistical basement they inhabited last year.