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Road trip sees baseball sweep Bears, get swept by Bulldogs

The baseball team has scored more than four runs just once since March 16, and, in four games this weekend, there was just one exception. Only once did a low-scoring game go the Tigers’ (9-14 overall, 4-2 Ivy League) way as they swept Brown and were in turn swept by Yale.

It was small ball all the way as the first game got underway in Providence, R.I., when the Tigers plated two runs in the third inning thanks to four consecutive singles. Sophomore third baseman Billy Arendt’s home run in the next inning would be all the cushion senior starter Michael Fagan would get, as the Tigers managed just the three runs despite getting 12 hits.

Last year, that cushion might not have been enough for Fagan, but the lefty continued to prove that head coach Scott Bradley was right to stick with him. Fagan improved to 3-1 on the season with a dominant complete game performance, allowing two runs on just four hits and striking out 11. After finishing last season with a 7.99 ERA, he brought his season mark down to 2.48.

Both offenses found their rhythm in the later game. The Tigers got off to a good start with a leadoff single from freshman centerfielder Danny Baer and a subsequent RBI double by senior second baseman Alec Keller.

The Bears (6-14, 0-8) answered back with two in the bottom of the first. Freshman righty Chad Powers was ultimately tagged with six earned runs, though he settled down after allowing three runs in the first two innings. However, after he started the sixth inning with a single, a walk and a hit batter, sophomore Luke Strieber replaced him, but Princeton had already put him in position to earn his third win of the season.

The Tigers started their half of the third with sophomore shortstop Danny Hoy reaching on error and scoring on a two-out single from freshman first baseman Zack Belski. Brown miscues resulted in what turned out to be a decisive inning, as freshman infielder Paul Tupper walked and later scored on another error. Junior catcher Tyler Servais and junior outfielder Peter Owens both singled in runs to keep the rally going.

Princeton added two more in the fourth, and Keller knocked in two runs in the fifth. Strieber took the hill with a seven-run cushion and, though he allowed three of Powers’ runners to score, he worked the next four innings without allowing an earned run. The righty gave up just one hit and struck out three as he shut the door on the Bears.

The next day, it was back to pitchers’ duels. In the first game, sophomore lefty Cam Mingo walked two batters and hit three, but let up only one run through the first seven innings. Bulldog (12-13, 5-3) starter Chris Lanham was equally effective, allowing just one run on a Baer single. Reliever Cale Hanson was even better, taking over for Lanham in the seventh and eventually earning the win after letting up just one run.

The game went into extras, 1-1 after seven frames, when the wheels quickly came off the Tigers’ cart. Mingo and his defense both faltered, allowing the leadoff hitter to reach second base on a single and error. After he moved to third on a sac bunt, Mingo ended his day with two straight walks to load the bases. Forced to enter the game under stressful circumstances, senior reliever Jonathan York walked the first and only batter he faced, giving the Bulldogs a 2-1 win.

The afternoon game started off right for Princeton as Servais plated Alec Keller, who had stolen third, in the first and the Tigers manufactured a run after a leadoff walk in the second. Freshman pitcher Keelan Smithers was solid through two, striking out the side in the second, but Yale tied it up with two sac flies in the third. He settled down for two more innings, but the Bulldogs got his number in the sixth, and catcher Robert Baldwin broke the game open with a two-run double.

Smithers never allowed more than two hits in an inning, and his six walks did not come back to haunt him, but those two innings were enough damage. The Bulldogs’ David Hickey found his rhythm and prevented the Tigers from getting another opportunity, striking out six in six-and-a-third innings. Chris Moates earned a two-and-a-third-innings save in relief. Moates allowed Princeton to load the bases in the seventh, and for a brief moment it looked as if the Tigers would tie it up when Hoy hit a line drive down the first baseline, but it was caught and thrown to first for an easy double play. Another double play would end the game two innings later with Yale still ahead 4-2.

The Tigers are now second to Penn in the Gehrig Division of the Ivy League. Divisional play starts this weekend as they play four games at Columbia, but the Tigers play a non-league game Wednesday, taking on Monmouth at 3:30 p.m. on Clarke Field.

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