Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 16
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
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LOCKED IN: Princeton University baseball star Dan DeGeorge takes a cut in recent action. Last weekend, senior second baseman DeGeorge went 9-for-17 with four runs and three RBIs as Princeton won three of four games at Penn. The big weekend moved the Tigers (16-15 overall, 8-8 Ivy League) into a first place tie with Cornell atop the league’s Gehrig Division.

Princeton Baseball Comes Alive Just in Time, Primed for Division Showdown With Cornell

Bill Alden

It was Easter Sunday and the Princeton University baseball team’s hopes for a Gehrig Division crown were on life support.

Having fallen 8-0 to Columbia in the opening game of a doubleheader that day, Princeton stood at 2-7 in Ivy League play, three games behind the defending champion Lions.

In the nightcap, though senior pitcher Brad Gemberling resurrected the Tigers’ title dreams, striking out a career-high 12 hitters as he hurled Princeton to an 11-4 win.

The Tiger bats also came alive as junior Jon Broscious led the attack, blasting two homers and driving in three runs.

The next day, Princeton utilized the classic baseball formula of good pitching and timely hitting to sweep the Lions 3-2 and 5-3 to pull into a three-way tie for first with Columbia and Cornell.

In reflecting on the opening doubleheader with Columbia, Princeton head coach Scott Bradley acknowledged that his team was in desperate straits after dropping the opener.

“We came into the weekend knowing that we needed to win three of four games,” said Bradley.

“Losing the first one didn’t help but we take things one game at a time. There is an old saying in baseball that momentum is your next starting pitcher. Brad Gemberling threw a great game for us. He was dominant.”

The starting pitching kept Princeton’s momentum going in the second doubleheader with the Lions. In the opener, David Palms went the distance, giving up just one earned run on six hits. Junior Langford Stuber went eight innings in the nightcap, allowing three runs on seven hits.

“David Palms has been so consistent for us; we knew he was going to give us a good outing,” asserted Bradley.

“Langford came out and gave us a great lift; He throws a heavy sinker and got a lot of ground balls. The guys played some good defense behind him.”

With a new lease on life, Princeton came into last weekend’s four-game set at last place Penn looking to keep up the heat.

“We have had a tough time getting in a rhythm with the weather,” said Bradley.

“We have spent a lot of time in the cage. The last time we had nice weather was at William and Mary and we hit well. I would like to think we have turned the corner but we won’t know until after this weekend. Penn is pretty good. They have lost a lot of close games. They lost two games to Cornell on walk-off hits.”

The Tigers did find themselves in some close contests at Philadelphia. In the opener Saturday, Princeton jumped out to a 4-1 lead only to see the Quakers rally to tie the game at 4-4 and force extra innings. The Tigers won the game in the ninth as Brian Berkowitz was plated in the top of the inning and then Matt Grabowski set down Penn in order in the bottom of the frame.

In the nightcap, Princeton pulled ahead 5-0 and held to win 7-4 as sophomore Greg Van Horn hit two homers, senior Dan DeGeorge had five hits, and Gemberling struck out 10 in earning the victory.

On Sunday, Palms produced another sparkling mound effort, giving up three hits in a 5-0 shutout which saw him lower his ERA to 2.74. In the nightcap, though, it was Penn’s Chris McNulty who starred on the mound as he scattered six hits in blanking the Tigers 4-0.

Princeton’s 3-1 weekend left the Tigers at 16-15 overall and 8-8 in Ivy play, leaving it in a tie with Cornell (12-18 overall, 8-8 Ivy ) atop the Gehrig Division.

The two teams will face off this weekend with Princeton hosting Cornell for a twinbill this Friday before heading to Ithaca for a doubleheader on Sunday.

In Bradley’s view, it is the play of his four battle-tested seniors, DeGeorge, Derek Beckman, Adrian Turnham and Gemberling that has kept the Tigers in the title hunt.

DeGeorge is leading the Tigers in hitting with a .368 batting average and has team-highs in runs (25), hits, (49) and doubles (12). Beckman is hitting .296 with a team-high eight stolen bases while Turnham has compiled a .277 batting average. Gemberling leads Princeton in wins (5-1) and strikeouts (59).

“DeGeorge and Beckman have been really solid at the top of the lineup,” said Bradley. “Adrian has been good in the middle of the lineup and Brad has given us good pitching.”

Bradley viewed the set with Penn as the way to take a solid step to a title shot.

“I am looking for two really good and consistent weekends and making to the Ivy Championship Series,” said Bradley, who has led Princeton to five Ivy League titles and five NCAA tournament appearances in his 12-season tenure.

“We need to show up and play. We can’t look past anyone; I always say you can’t look at the records in this league.”

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