In the week leading up to Princeton baseball’s showdown with Yale in the Ivy League Championship Series, Danny Hoy ’16 had trouble sleeping. The Tigers’ second baseman had waited four years for this opportunity, and in a hectic week that included final exams, it was hard to relax.
But in the decisive third game, when Hoy walked to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with his team trailing by a run, he felt “a weird kind of calm.” His teammates felt it, too.
“I get goose bumps thinking about it,” third baseman Billy Arendt ’16 said. “His body language, the way he was working in the box — you knew something good was going to happen.”
Hoy roped a single to left field, starting a bizarre rally that would include two hit batters, two wild pitches, and most importantly, two Tiger runs, propelling Princeton to a 2–1 victory and its first Ivy title since 2011.
The win capped a dream turnaround for a team that endured a 7–32 season last year. It was particularly sweet for Arendt and Hoy, two infielders whose careers followed parallel paths: They batted next to one another in the lineup, played an identical number of games (159), and finished their senior seasons on the All-Ivy team.
Arendt and Hoy came to college with similar backgrounds, having played for high school teams that rarely lost (Arendt in Houston, Hoy in Philadelphia), and as freshmen, they competed for the starting shortstop job. That year was an exercise in “learning how to deal with failure,” Arendt said, both on the field and in the classroom. The Tigers finished 14–28 as Arendt worked to balance his practice schedule with demanding courses in engineering.
The turning point in Arendt’s Princeton experience, he said, came after his sophomore year, when he switched his major from mechanical and aerospace engineering to civil and environmental engineering — a concentration that was more closely aligned with his career plans. (Perhaps not coincidentally, his batting average jumped 74 points.)
Hoy, a politics major, also found that his athletic and academic experiences complemented one another. “Baseball was the escape for me,” he said. “You’d pull all-nighters, or close to it, in the library, and you could come down here, blow off some steam, and go do it again.”
Winning the Ivy title earned Princeton a trip to the NCAA Regional in Lafayette, La., June 3 and 4. Though the Tigers lost close games to Louisiana-Lafayette and Sam Houston State, the senior infielders finished strong: Arendt had a team-high four hits in nine at bats, while Hoy had three hits, two runs batted in, and a stolen base.