Yale Earns Another Shot at No. 1

Dai Dai Otaka was an infield vacuum against the Crusaders
Dai Dai Otaka was an infield vacuum against the Crusaders

 

Bulldogs Win School-Record 34th

 

CORVALLIS, Ore. – There was a lot on the line for the Yale baseball team as the Bulldogs looked over to the other dugout to see a familiar opponent. The Elis and Holy Cross may have played six times during the regular season, but this encounter meant keeping a season alive.

The Bulldogs not only kept their season alive with a 9-5 win in game five of the NCAA Corvallis Regional, they notched a school-record 34th victory while becoming the first Yale team to win two NCAA Tournament games since 1948.

The top of the order was the primary reason the Blue get another shot at No. 1 ranked Oregon State (51-4) tonight at 7 p.m. PT. Tim DeGraw went 3-for-3 with four runs and two RBI and Alex Stiegler was 3-for-3 with five batted in. The first two guys in the lineup had nearly half of Yale's 13 hits.

The Elis must win tonight to force a decisive finale on Monday night.

The Bulldogs came out of the anthem swinging. DeGraw led off with a single up the middle and came home on a double down the left field line by Stiegler, who then moved to third on a passed ball. Griffin Dey singled to center to drive in Stiegler to make it 2-0.

The Blue added to the lead with the top of the order again in the third when DeGraw legged out an infield single, Stiegler, who was making his second start of the tournament at second base, walked and Richard Slenker singled to left. The Crusaders' second double-play of the game got them out of the inning with just the one tally allowed.

DeGraw's third hit of the game, a single up the middle, gave the Elis a 5-0 lead in the fourth. He knocked in Alec Hoeschel (2 hits) and Andrew Herrera (2 hits), both of whom singled and then moved over on a ground out. Stiegler's third hit of the tournament scored the speedy center fielder from second to make it a six-run advantage.

Holy Cross, the visitors in this game, got two back in the fifth, but a three-run bottom of the sixth erased that Purple fender bender. All three Yale runs came with two outs on a bases-loaded double to right center by Stiegler, who lined a two-strike fastball off the Dutch Bros Coffee sign. The Crusaders walked DeGraw to fill the bags with Bulldogs following singles by Hoeschel and Herrera.

 

BUMP

Sophomore Kumar Nambiar did his job as the Yale starting pitcher today by scattering 10 hits over seven innings. He threw 106 pitches, struck out four and allowed four earned runs.

"Kumar had good command today," said Yale head coach John Stuper. "He's a competitor who throws hard and has a good breaking ball and changeup."

Freshman righty Tyler Sapsford came on in the eighth to put out a potential rally. He inherited a runner with no outs and proceeded to get a ground out and a fly out before freezing a Crusader with a breaking ball strike three. A did not allow a runner in the ninth.

 
 

LEATHER AND LACE

Shortstop Dai Dai Otaka went deep in the hole to backhand a grounder and then throw the other way to catch Bill Schlich by a step at first in the opening frame. In the fifth, with one out, he went behind the bag at second, did a spin and then fired in time at first. The freshman from Novi, Mich., made a third stellar play in the seventh with two out and two on base. He raced in toward the mound to get a ball that barely evaded the glove of the Yale pitcher and then threw on the run to end the threat.

"He [Otaka] saved us so many runs this year," said Stuper.

 

BULLDOG BITES

Tim DeGraw, who had a team-high 17th stolen base today, is the only Bulldog to play in all 51 games this season… Simon Whiteman, who was injured in the Nebraska game, was not able to go today… The Crusaders had the short turnaround on Saturday, today it was Yale's turn. The bus with Bulldogs arrived at the hotel by 11:30 p.m. Saturday and the ride to the field today was at 10 a.m…. Yale had the third base dugout for the first time this tournament... Former Yale players Kyle Hoshide '93 and Bryan Hobbs '96, both members of the 33-win 1993 team, attended the game.

 

STAFF

Associate Head Coach Tucker Frawley probably established an NCAA Regional record for traveling the furthest to play against an alma mater. The former Crusader standout has faced his old squad in New York, Massachusetts and Oregon this spring… Assistant Coach Craig Driver (Seattle, Wash.) is the Yale team member whose hometown is closest to this regional. He played catcher at the University of Puget Sound.

 

Press Conference Video: Stuper, Otaka, Nambiar

 

 

 

By Steve Conn, Yale Associate AD & Sports Publicity Director – steven.conn@yale.edu