Editor’s Note: This story was written by and republished with the permission of the Big Red Sports Network, which provides excellent Cornell sports coverage throughout the year for alumni, parents, students and fans everywhere.
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It has been months since the Big Red’s last bout, but it doesn’t feel like anything has changed. Sure, the Big Red lost their best pitcher in Brent Jones to the Arizona Diamondbacks and a flurry of others to graduation, but the team looks very similar in talent level and focus. And in their first series against Gardner-Webb in North Carolina, they continued on that track as they struggled to put runs on the board but continued their pitching dominance. They fell in all three games: 2-1, 3-2, and then 2-1.
Game One featured some offense from Spencer Scorza (3-for-4) and Ryan Karl (2-for-3), but that was just about it as their only run scored came on a Kalr sacrifice fly. Brian McAfee threw five innings and allowed just two runs on three hits, and Nick Busto threw three innings in relief of scoreless ball. Their pitching efforts were obviously not enough, as the team could not manage to score more than a run.
That continued into Game Two, as a Michael Byrne was very good for his first of the year: five innings, one earned run, three hits, one walk, and five strikeouts. Paul Balestrieri filled in the sixth, and he pitched three innings and allowed just one earned run (two total runs) on five hits and a couple of strikeouts. Cornell was able to get a run across in the eighth due to a Dan Morris double where he eventually scored, and the Big Red mounted a rally in the ninth. Kevin Tatum knocked in an RBI single to bring the score within one, but the tying run was stranded at third.
In Game Three, their low-scoring ways were almost adequate, until a late inning flub wrecked their chances of coming out with a win. Kellen Urbon, the once Rookie closer and now converted starter, made the start and pitched pretty well. In five innings, he did not allow a run on just four hits, a walk, and four strikeouts. The Big Red were also able to scratch across a run via a Dan Morris RBI single in the eighth, but that was all they could do. In the ninth inning of the tie game, what appeared to be a pick-off turned into an error when the throw went past Ryan Karl and allowed the runner to score from first. That would end the game, and it would end the series in a disappointing sweep.
The Big Red’s exhibition schedule will continue next week as they’ll take on George Mason University in a three-game set from February 27th to March 1st. The exact details for the schedule, and links for possible live stats or audio/video streams, can be found here.