Official Yale box score: http://www.yalebulldogs.com/sports/m-basebl/2015-16/boxscores/20160507_mg88.xml
After the Yale vs. Brown double header we last went to, I put both of our Yale hats up (Quentin's and mine) and said we wouldn't take them back down until football started. We (my dad, wife and I) had all talked about how we'd like to go to more Yale baseball games next season, to the point where we might go on a Saturday or Sunday and not both but will hopefully see them play every opponent at home. I knew that the Harvard-Dartmouth games had some sort of effect on Yale but the way I left it was that on Sunday the games were rained out and pushed until Tuesday. On Tuesday, I pretty much forgot about them.
Wednesday morning I got a text from my dad asking if I had seen that Yale was going to have a one off game with Dartmouth at Yale on Saturday. I knew in the back of my mind that was a possibility of something that could happen, but I didn't remember to follow through with what happened between Harvard and Dartmouth and just assumed that the home season for Yale was over. We made our arrangements as we tend to do and planned on going to the game on Saturday at 1 pm.
Then the weather took over. The whole week was really dark and rainy. They announced on Twitter Friday night that the game was being pushed back until 2:30 pm so we adjusted our plans and ended up arriving at the game a little bit after 1 pm (because we didn't adjust our plans too much, you see) To make a long pre-game story short, we first heard that the game had been pushed back until 3 pm- after we got there- and then 3:15 and finally, the last time, was 4 pm and that was when it actually started.
I did not miss the opportunity to tell my dad though that if other fans in attendance wished to have programs they should have gotten there three hours early like us!
The nice part about having the time before the game was that Quentin and I were able to get the four remaining players we needed to sign the baseball we had last week so as to complete the team. On top of that, we also got Coach Stuper to sign the ball, so we have a total of two coaches signatures and every player on the team on the baseball from our first season of Yale baseball. It's pretty rad. We also had a nice exchange with Coach Stuper as we had him sign with a Mets pen. I would love to pick the brain of Coach Stuper one day-- just talk about baseball from back when I feel like it meant more in the majors than it does now.
My dad and wife went to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and donuts since we had so much time before the game started. I was talking to someone who worked for Yale Athletics and they had mentioned on social media that the first 50 fans in attendance would get a free t-shirt and so he said he'd bring those over to us when the people who had them showed up and I thought that was nice/was one of the perks of showing up way before everyone else. There was also another gentleman who I believe works with the team that remembered us from last week and he helped us a lot to complete the signatures on the baseball.
The fans came in slowly, but eventually the programs and free shirts were gone though at one point during the game I did go to the bathroom and saw that they had put out more programs which I hadn't seen them do before. Quentin and I walked around the inside and the outside of the stadium before the game and managed to find three batting practice balls that were in decent shape. It is also worth noting that prior to the game Richard Slenker, #9 on the team, came over and handed Quentin a baseball and told him thanks for coming out again, which I thought was a really nice gesture.
Once the game finally started it was nerve-wrecking. A lot of what happened in the action was back and forth and no matter who you wanted to win you knew you were watching a great game. At no point in the game did anyone ever seem to have their win locked down until the very end of it. It was one of those situations where I had to pee really badly during the 8th but didn't want to miss anything.
Early on, a Yale player got hit by the Dartmouth and later on a Dartmouth player hit a home run. Dartmouth actually had two home runs during the game but the first one just seemed to anger the Yale pitcher. So many of the situations that both teams found themselves getting into defensively they managed to get out of and to say that these two teams were truly evenly matched would be most accurate. When Yale finally did put up some runs, they tied the game, then took the lead, then lost the lead, then tied the game, and it just kept going like that.
It is worth noting that the rally by Yale was started by Richard Slenker and I stand firm in my belief that it was because he gave Quentin a ball before the game.
In the bottom of the 8th, Yale did what they needed to do and more. Not only did they tie the game, they took the lead at the time when they needed it the most, but they only managed to be up by one run. It wasn't a time to relax in the top fo the 9th because the win wasn't certain. A home run again by Dartmouth or any runs scored would have forced Yale to bat again but this became their game to win-- all they had to do was get out of the 9th with three outs and it'd all be over.
This was my first time seeing Dartmouth's baseball team and I think that saying something like "They underestimated Yale" could be false coming from me as I don't really know what Dartmouth was thinking. All I know is that Yale had an amazing come from behind victory and won the Rolfe Division title for the first time since 1995. You really couldn't have asked for a better game to watch because seeing a team win (or lose) by something like 10 to 2 or whatever is just not as much fun.
Our first season going to Yale, we saw three games (Well, three days of games as we stayed once for the double header) and they won their division for the first time since '95. We also got the entire team to sign a baseball (plus two of the coaches!), a slew of other baseballs and a free Yale Athletics shirt. All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good season for us and if anyone ever wants to take their kids- their family- out to the ballgame for a great experience I'd recommend this because the parking is free, admission is free and it's just an all around great time. Hopefully we will go to most every game next season and then, who knows, Yale could win it all and even have the home field advantage. Seeing Yale play for the Ivy League title at home next season? Yes, yes we will.