MOUNT VERNON – The Rams positioned themselves for a shot at a Midwest Conference South Division title next weekend after splitting a pair of baseball games Sunday with Illinois College at Ash Park Field.
Sophomore Jared Henry fired seven strong innings to guide Cornell to an 8-3 victory in the opener. The Blueboys took the second game, 7-4.
The Rams (20-10 overall) won three of four games in the weekend series and secured the program's first 20-win season since 2003.
Cornell improved to 8-4 in the South Division, a few percentage points behind first-place Grinnell (7-3 MWC) which had Sunday's doubleheader at Knox postponed. The Rams and Pioneers will play for the division championship next Saturday, May 3 (in Mount Vernon) and Sunday, May 4 (in Grinnell). Both doubleheaders start at noon.
The Rams clinched their first winning season in 11 years with the Game 1 victory. Cornell racked up 16 hits, highlighted by a 4-for-6 performance from Beriah Quick. The Ram shortstop tripled and drove in two runs.
Quick, a junior batting .425 on the year, climbed to ninth place for career hits at Cornell with 114. Next on the list is Casey Korn (2006-09) with 118.
Cornell broke open a 2-1 game with a five-run fifth inning. Freshman John Tesensky delivered the big hit, a three-run double over the right fielder. Tesensky finished 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBIs. Nate Streb, Buddy Mattern and Chuck Rocker also had two hits apiece in the opener.
The Blueboys (19-16, 8-8 MWC) did not manage an earned run against Henry and Eric Daubach. Henry (1-1) scattered five hits, leaving with the Rams ahead 7-3. Daubach pitched two scoreless innings in relief, striking out two.
In Game 2, Cornell took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning. The Blueboys broke through with three runs in that frame, and then added two in the seventh and two more in the eighth.
The Rams pulled within 5-4 in the eighth on RBIs by Max Freilinger and Wyatt Kurzejeski. Freilinger finished with two RBIs. Mattern led the Rams with two hits, while Streb scored twice.
Kevin Stahmer (1-1) gave up six hits and four earned runs over 6.1 innings. He did not allow a runner past second base until the sixth.
Coming up – Cornell travels to play Augustana (23-10) Tuesday for one nine-inning game at 7 p.m. in Rock Island, Ill.