Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Westchester's Diamond Quartet

Tim DeGraw '19 and Richard Slenker '17 (above) have helped Yale to the top of the Ivy League in baseball this spring.  They are two of four Westchester athletes on the team (Yale Athletics photos)
The worst of winter has eased its way out of 2017 and spring-like days have begun to tease New England--signs that Yale baseball can take a prominent stage on its old diamond in West Haven.  With annual road trips to the South (to the states of New Mexico, Virginia and South Carolina this year) out of the way, the team is already in the last chapter of the season. Sporting a 16-13 record, it has the best conference record in the Ivy League (7-1) and heads to Harvard for a three-game series this weekend.

Yale is a contender for the Ivy title, and outstanding contributions from a quartet of Westchester athletes are one reason. The foursome were on the squad last year, but three of them were first-year players, happy to gain playing time while learning the ways of Ivy athletics with Ivy academic burdens. 

In 2017, the freshmen are mainstay sophomores, playing (and pitching) regularly, bashing home rooms, smacking lead-off singles, banging out doubles and complementing the steady, consistent play of their senior teammate, Richard Slenker '17, a former Westchester-Putnam player of the year who is capping off his own productive career as the Yale captain. 

The sophomores are Rye's Tim DeGraw '19, a fleet outfielder with speed, who starred in football at Rye High School; Griffen Dey '19, a first-baseman and pitcher from Pound Ridge who has already hit seven home runs in 2017, and Mamaroneck's Kumar Nambiar '19, lefty relief pitcher who led his high school team to a state championship.

Few Yale teams in recent years have had as many Westchester representatives as baseball the past several years. Consider that a coincidence, but attribute that also to outstanding coaching and competition at high schools in the county, despite the perennial disadvantages of weather in March and April in the New York area. (The high school season doesn't bloom until mid-April when the school calendar starts to wind down. And many games are postponed because of all forms of inclement weather.)

The Westchester quartet also played in prep programs that have impressive records in grooming collegians. Nambiar's Mamaroneck can boast of alums who have played in college World Series and for big-league teams.  Dey has seven teammates from his Kennedy Catholic squad who are now playing in college. DeGraw has two teammates from Rye playing in the Ivy League.

This spring in support of Yale's bid for an Ivy championship, DeGraw is hitting .308 with 14 stolen bases and already has 13 multi-hit games. Pound Ridge's Slenker, who has accumulated a pile of League and team awards as a virtual mainstay in the Yale infield for four years, has a career batting average of .326. He will likely wind up his time at Yale with over 175 career hits and 100 career RBI's.

Nambiar earned a relief save in the Bulldogs' recent 6-3 win against Columbia. Dey started the season on a torrid long-ball pace with three home runs in the first four games.  As a pitcher, he earned wins over Cornell and Columbia.

After returning from Harvard, the Bulldogs will finish the season in late April with three-game series against Dartmouth and Brown. The Ivy League baseball championship follows.

(L-R) Pound Ridge's Richard Slenker '17, Rye's Tim DeGraw '19, Mamaroneck's Kumar Nambiar '19, and Pound Ridge's Griffen Dey '19. Below, Slenker, DeGraw and Dey show their batting forms in Ivy games against Columbia and Penn.  (Yale Athletics Photos)

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