PRINCETON, N.J. — On the verge of being swept in a doubleheader at Princeton on Easter Sunday, Dartmouth was saved by freshman Chris O'Dowd who hit his first collegiate home run to tie the game in the ninth, then doubled the winning run home with two outs in the 10th as the Big Green took the nightcap, 5-4. Junior Ryan Smith nailed down his 20th career save to close out the victory for Dartmouth (8-10, 2-2 Ivy), giving head coach Bob Whalen his 384th career win as the Big Green head coach to set a new school record. Whalen had been tied with former big league hurler Jeff Tesreau, who coached the Big Green for 28 years from 1919-46.
In the first game, the Princeton freshman Zak Hermans outdueled sophomore Kyle Hendricks as the Tigers (8-14, 2-2 Ivy) picked up a 2-0 victory. Hermans pitched six-plus scoreless innings to earn the first victory of his career, while Hendricks equaled his career-high of 11 strikeouts yet suffered the loss in the seven-inning contest.
Trailing 4-3 in the ninth of game two, O’Dowd led off the inning against Ryan Makis. O’Dowd worked the count to 2-2 before launching a pitch out to center field, tying the game at four. Dartmouth threatened to take the lead with two outs when freshman Ennis Coble singled and stole second, leading to sophomore Joe Sclafani being intentionally walked. But Matt Bowman, who earned the save in the first game, was summoned from his position at shortstop and got the final out to keep the score tied.
Princeton was retired in order in the bottom half by sophomore reliever Cole Sulser (3-0), and the Big Green went right back to work against Bowman (1-3). Junior Jeff Onstott pulled a single through the right side to start things off, but was forced at second on a bunt back to the mound. After a pop up, O’Dowd sent a fly to left that was out of the reach of Brandon Englert, and senior Ben Murray scurried all the way home from first base for the 5-4 lead.
Junior closer Ryan Smith got the call from the Dartmouth bullpen, and was greeted by single off the bat of Englert. That would be as far as he got on the bases as Smith set down the next three batters in order to pick up his second save of the year and extending his Ivy League record to 20 for his career.
The Tigers scored first in the back-and-forth game, touching Big Green freshman Kyle Hunter for a run in the first. Bowman and Noel Gonzales-Luna singled to start the inning, putting runners on the corners. Sam Mulroy then reached on an error as Bowman scored.
The two sides traded runs in the second inning when Onstott doubled with one gone before freshman Zack Bellenger and junior Jason Brooks singled to bring him around to score. Princeton quickly responded on a homer by Alex Flink, his first, to lead off the bottom half.
Dartmouth took a 3-2 lead in the third when senior Jim Wren punched a ball between first and second to drive in both sophomore Jake Carlson and Coble.
The score remained 3-2 until the seventh when Sulser surrendered a long two-run single by designated hitter Brian Berkowitz, putting Princeton back on top 4-3. That simply set the stage for O’Dowd’s heroics.
Sulser got the win with 3.1 innings of relief, yielding two runs on two hits while striking out two. Hunter pitched well again for the Big Green, allowing just two runs in 5.2 innings in his third collegiate start, dropping his ERA to a team-best 3.52 on the season.
The difference in the first game came down to Berkowitz, who had three of the eight hits off of Hendricks, with each of the three going for extra bases. His solo shot to right to lead off the fourth was his third of the season and broke the scoreless deadlock. In the sixth, Berkowitz stroked a lead-off double before exiting for pinch runner Matt Connor. One out later, Jon Broscious provided an RBI single to center to score Connor.
Only once did Hermans (1-2) allow more than one runner to reach base in an inning, that coming in the first when Carlson singled and went to second on a throwing error, and Sclafani walked with one down. Neither runner advanced from there as Hermans retired the next 10 batters he faced. In each of the fourth and fifth frames, he surrendered just a harmless two-out single.
When Wren grounded a single up the middle to start the seventh, however, Princeton turned to Bowman to nail down the save. After striking out the first batter he faced, Bowman was touched for a single by Bellenger. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, putting the tying run in scoring position with just one out. But Bowman got another strikeout, than induced O’Dowd to ground to short on the first pitch of the at-bat, ending the game to pick up his first save.
Hendricks (1-3) pitched the six innings for his second complete game of the year, yielding the two runs on eight hits and one walk to go along with his 11 strikeouts.
Dartmouth next plays its home opener on Tuesday against Williams at 3:30 p.m. Princeton travels to Rutgers that day for a game at 3:30 p.m.