The Princeton baseball team opened its four-game must-win series versus Cornell with a twinbill sweep in Ithaca, N.Y. A productive offensive outing guided the Tigers to a 13-3 victory to open the series, while a 14-strikeout performance by Zak Hermans lifted Princeton past the Big Red, 1-0, to wrap up day one action.
The sweep keeps Princeton's postseason hopes alive heading into Sunday's finale. The Tigers (19-18, 12-6 Ivy) are now only one game behind the Big Red (28-13-1, 13-5 Ivy) in the Gehrig Division.
Solid batting and a 20-9 hitting advantage was key in the Tigers opening the series with a 13-3 victory.
In the second inning, Sam Mulroy made it a 1-0 game with a solo homer over the left field fence. He is now tied for No. 2 all-time in career home runs in program history with 25.
Cornell evened the score in the bottom half of the frame, but Princeton retook control in the third inning, this time for good. Alex Flink led off with a double and Tom Boggiano followed with an RBI double of his own down the right field line. Two batters later and with runners on the corners, John Mishu hit the Tigers third double of the inning to lift Princeton to a 4-1 advantage.
The Big Red cut the Tigers lead in half with a lone run in the third, but it was not enough to slow down Princeton, as an Alec Keller two-RBI single in the fourth added to the Tigers run cushion, 6-2.
Princeton sealed the series-opening victory with an offensive explosion in the sixth. Mulroy hit a one-out bases loaded RBI single and Mike Ford followed with a two-RBI single up the middle. Steve Harrington continued the scoring with an RBI base hit and Tyler Servais doubled to left center to bring home a pair of runs. Following a Cornell pitching change, Keller, who went 4-for-5, added the Tigers' seventh run of the inning off an RBI double down the left field line to improve Princeton's lead to 13-2.
Cornell added a final run in the bottom of the seventh, but pitcher Ford was able to get out the inning before the Big Red cut down Princeton's lead further. Ford tallied six strikeouts in his fourth win of the year.
Both Flink and Servais were 3-for-4 in the game, while Boggiano, Ford and Mulroy each had a pair of hits.
It was a pitchers' duel through much of the game, but a fourth inning Servais RBI sacrifice fly would be enough to lift Princeton to a 1-0 shutout win and day one sweep over Cornell.
After recording the only hit of the game in the third inning, Princeton successfully capitalized on its offensive opportunity in the fourth. Ford hit a one-out single and was advanced to third on a Harrington double to right. Servais followed, hitting a sacrifice fly to right field to score Ford from third and the eventual game-winner.
On the mound, Hermans (6-2) was brilliant for Princeton. He put together a career-best performance as the Tigers faced elimination. Over 9.0 innings, Hermans threw 14 strikeouts, gave up only three hits and earned his first shutout of the year. His 14 strikeouts marked a career-high and an Ivy League season-high, surpassing teammate Bowman's 12 earlier this season.
Princeton and Cornell play for it all on Sunday, April 29 at Clarke Field. Doubleheader action begins at 12 noon. The Tigers must sweep the Big Red to advanced to the Ivy League Championship Series.