After struggling to a 7-32 record during the 2015 season, the Princeton baseball team has come out firing on all cylinders this spring. The Tigers kicked off the season in Kentucky against then-No. 4 Louisville, but fell in three hard-fought contests. Princeton quickly gained momentum over spring break, winning five of nine against opponents across the Mid-Atlantic region.
Play so far has been highlighted by a five-game winning streak at Clarke Field from March 30 to April 3, which included victories over in-state rival Seton Hall and a weekend sweep of Ivy League rivals Dartmouth and Harvard to kick off conference competition. After posting two straight walk-off wins on April 2 against Dartmouth, the Tigers came back on April 3 to beat Harvard twice, avenging their two losses last season to the Crimson. After falling to Yale twice on Friday, the Tigers bounced back Sunday with two wins on the road against Brown to currently stand at a 13-13 overall and 6-2 in Ivy play.
The coming weeks will determine whether the Tigers will see the postseason, with four-game sets against Penn, Columbia, and Cornell — Princeton’s Gehrig Division rivals. The Gehrig Division team with the best Ivy record will play the best team from the Red Rolfe Division (Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Yale) in the Ivy Championship Series. The Tigers’ recent success has the team’s leaders excited about the team’s prospects going into the remaining weekends of competition.
“The season’s in our hands,” senior Billy Arendt said. “We control our own destiny from here on out in inter-division play with a good record. We’ve depended on our pitchers to keep us in every game. [Senior] Luke [Strieber], [junior] Chad [Powers], [senior] Cameron [Mingo], and [junior] Keelan [Smithers] have all been great. Every day we send them out and we just need to score runs.”
Despite the strong play as of late, the Tigers know that there are areas to continue focusing on in their play.
“We played really good defense during this first half of the season,” senior Dan Hoy said. “We’re just trying to keep focusing defensively. Our pitching is good and our offense is going to be good, so we just need to put it all together. We have all the talent in the world, it’s just about having it all come together at the same time.”
Most importantly, the unity that the Tigers have this season is manifesting itself in their results on the field. Winners of seven of their last ten games, Princeton seem to be getting hot at just the right time.
“It’s been a great time to play as a unit,” Arendt said. “Nobody’s searching for personal accolades. Team comes first with these guys, which is great, and it’s been different guys coming through on different weekends.”