In Princeton baseball’s May 2 finale against Rider, Sal Iacono ’07 stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 10th inning with a chance to tie the game with one swing of the bat. He reached down and scooped a handful of dirt with his right hand, wiped the excess on his hip, and drove a promising shot to the right side of center field. But the ball dropped into the centerfielder’s glove a few paces shy of the warning track. Two batters later, Princeton’s comeback attempt also fell short in an 8–7 loss for the Tigers.
The Rider game was the last in a series of near misses for Princeton, which played 10 games decided by a single run and lost eight of them. After starting the Ivy League season 6-8, the Tigers needed to win their six remaining Ivy games to force a playoff with Gehrig Division-leader Penn. They won the first five and went to extra innings in the sixth, at Cornell April 29, before falling on an RBI single in the bottom of the 12th.
Head coach Scott Bradley, whose teams have won three Ivy titles in the last five seasons, said that stronger competition contributed to Princeton’s second-place finish in the division. “But I think it is remarkable that we had six back-to-the-wall games … and we won five consecutive games and took it to the 12th inning against Cornell,” he said. “That’s a credit to the character of these guys.”
Iacono, the starting third baseman, was Princeton’s most impressive player, batting .413 to become the first Tiger in nine seasons to clear the .400 mark. He had been a solid, everyday player for much of his first three seasons, but he entered the year with a .259 career batting average and one strikeout in every five at-bats. As a senior, Iacono increased his power, belting five home runs and driving in a team-high 35 runs, while cutting his strikeout rate in half.