Pitchers Lead Princeton Baseball to Strong Ivy Start

The big question coming into this baseball season was, “What are they going to do without Zak Hermans ’13 and Mike Ford ’14?” The two pitchers combined for nine wins, 87 strikeouts, and only 22 earned runs over 120 1/3 innings last season with 11 complete games between them. Hitting .320 with 38 RBI, Ford made history by becoming the first player in league history to be named Ivy League Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year.

Pitcher Michael Fagan ’14. (Office of Athletic Communications)

Pitcher Michael Fagan ’14. (Office of Athletic Communications)

When they left, both for professional teams, it looked like Princeton’s pitching was bound to struggle. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Thanks to an influx of young talent for which virtually no adjustment period was necessary, the Tigers have jumped out to a good start in Ivy League play (4-2 after a pair of close losses at Yale Sunday). While the offense has been surprisingly productive early on, the Tigers would not have a winning record in the league without pitching.

When the Tigers mustered just three runs against Brown Saturday, the pressure was on starter Michael Fagan ’14. The veteran lived up to the challenge, allowing two runs on just four hits while fanning 11 Bears. This from a guy who was dogged by control issues for his first three seasons, to the extent that last year I argued that he shouldn’t be in the starting rotation. I take it all back. Fagan’s 3-1 record is the best on the team, and his ERA is a staunch 2.15. 

While Cam Mingo ’16 was used sparingly due to a minor injury, head coach Scott Bradley got the opportunity to see what some of his other arms could do as the season got underway, and that is now paying dividends. Rookie Bryce Keller ’17 has been nothing but impressive, posting a 1.35 ERA and indicating that he could soon make the starting rotation, while Chad Powers ’17 and Chris Bodurian ’16 have both proven themselves capable, Powers improving to 3-1 Saturday. Even more surprisingly, Bradley has looked to some senior position players. Jonathan York ’14, who has made a career out of playing wherever he’s needed, took the hill for the first time this season and has become something of a closer, notching four saves and striking out 12 batters in 14.2 innings so far. On Wednesday against Seton Hall, Will Davis ’14, who has seen precious little time at first base, came in as a reliever and recorded a much-needed out.

As the Ivy schedule heats up, with divisional play starting Saturday, the Tigers will need to keep scoring runs, but we can expect lots of close games. Knowing that, it must be nice to go in with this many capable pitchers.

Quick Takes

After consecutive Ivy League losses which have placed its tournament hopes in jeopardy, men’s lacrosse vented its frustration with a 15-11 win over Rutgers at Class of 1952 Stadium Saturday night. All eyes were on Tom Schreiber ’14, who scored four goals and three assists. With that, he became the ninth Princeton player to reach 100 career goals and the first midfielder in Ivy League history to score 100 career goals with 90 career assists.

Women’s lacrosse, meanwhile, improved to 3-1 in the Ivy League after a convincing 15-8 win over Yale. Tied for second in the league behind 2-0 Penn, the Tigers are confident in their offense, which scored nine goals in the first half Saturday. Erin McMunn ’15 led the way with four goals and an assist — she and Alexandra Bruno ’16 have combined for 36 goals and 16 assists this season.

Women’s water polo continues to dominate. A four-win Saturday saw the Tigers defeat their opponents by a combined score of 46-25, and they capped a perfect weekend Sunday with a 16-6 win over George Washington. That offensive outburst concluded Princeton’s regular season on a high note: The Tigers will head to Cambridge for the CWPA Southern Division Championship next weekend.

Princeton’s successful table tennis club won its first national women’s collegiate championship behind strong play from U.S. Olympian Ariel Hsing ’17, the women’s singles champion, and Shirley Fu ’17, who placed third in the singles competition. Read more about Hsing in a story from PAW’s Feb. 5 issue.

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