Cornell baseball opens this weekend in Maryland, here's how they look.
Cornell baseball will begin defending their Ivy League crown as they open their season this weekend in Maryland with a double header Friday at University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Saturday against St. Peter’s college. Last year the Big Red won the Ivy League and finished with an overall mark of 31-17, setting a program record for wins. By beating Dartmouth is a 3 game championship series they earned a berth in the NCAA tournament for only the second time in school history, but were eliminated in the Chapel Hill Regional with losses to North Carolina and East Carolina in the opening round.
Coach Bill Walkenbach is expecting similar success this season, as they return 15 letter winners, including top starting pitcher Connor Kaufman and sophomore closer Kellon Urbon. Kaufmann was all ivy first team last season, and threw the team’s first no-hitter in 32 years. The starter finished 7-2 with a 3.9 ERA. What the Cornell pitchers start, Kellon Urbon finishes. The closer’s long list of accolades includes all-ivy first team, Ivy rookie of the year, and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. As the team’s most often used reliever, Urbon set single season records for saves with 22 and ERA with an impressive 0.47. So far this year the right-hander has already been named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-American third team and he was featured on college baseball insider.com earlier this month.
As for the position players, a college sports madness poll naming preseason All-conference teams tabbed junior outfielder Chris Cruz as pre-season 1st team All -Ivy. Cruz, who started every game in right field last season, hit .260 with 33 runs scored and 8 stolen bases. He also belted a 2 run homer in the 11th inning of Game 3 of the Ivy Championship series against Dartmouth last season to give the big red their first title since 1977. Cruz was also selected in the poll as both the best defensive outfielder and best outfield arm in the Ivy League. The same poll also selected first year Cornell outfielder Jordan Winowar as pre-season Ivy freshman player of the year. Winowar hits for average and is expected to be a top-notch defensive outfielder.
The Big Red did graduate 7 seniors from last year's team, most notably Brian Billigen whose offensive production will have to be replaced. Billigen was an all-ivy second team outfielder who led the team in batting average with .361 and triples with 3, and RBI’s with 40 as a senior. Shortly after graduating, he signed a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks and finished the 2012 season for their single A team in South Bend, which is likely where he will start this season.
Cornell’s 44 game schedule includes trips to Maryland, DC, and North Carolina. The Big Red won’t open their home schedule until March 26 when they host Albany, and Ivy League play starts the 30th as they’ll look to defend their crown. It is expected that Dartmouth will once again be Cornell's biggest challenger for Ivy supremacy.
Cornell softball opens this weekend as well. They’ll be in Virginia this weekend for the George Mason Patriot Classic against Rider, George Mason, and Rutgers.
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