This weekend was the weekend that the coaching staff for Cornell University’s baseball team was waiting for. L.C. Bird alumni, Connor Kaufmann, had a breakout performance and now without a doubt has established himself as a legitimate Division-1 pitcher. After a standout career at Bird, in which Kaufmann sported a stellar 4.6 GPA, the now college sophomore spun a no-hitter against conference contender Dartmouth, a game that Cornell won 2-0. The no-hitter was the first since 1989 for Cornell when three pitchers combined for a no-hitter.
“He’s getting more confident and he’s starting to learn he can compete at this level,” said Cornell pitching coach, Scott Marsh. “He gets out there and he’s all business.”
Kaufmann dominated the Big Green, one of the top teams in the Ivy League this season, a team that’s won its division four years in a row and lost out to Princeton for the Ivy League championship last year. Kaufmann struck out four batters and walked just two over seven innings, a game that was scheduled to be the first of two games in a doubleheader this past Sunday.
On the season, Kaufmann, a Mechanical Engineering major is now 4-1 with an earned run average (ERA) just over five. Marsh says that the ERA is inflated due to an early exist against Delaware State in which Kaufmann hit the showers early, giving up eight runs in just one inning of work. Otherwise, Kaufmann is tied for the team lead in wins on a team that’s started 15-5-1 and finished 10-30 last year.
“The team worked a lot harder in the off-season,” said Kaufmann. “This year the weather’s been better too,” he explained. “Last year there was snow on the ground from October to March, we couldn’t use the field.”
Cornell started conference play this past weekend against Harvard and Dartmouth. Thus far the Big Red has taken two of three games in conference play.
Making a great transition to college, Kaufmann sports a 3.0 GPA in one of the toughest programs at Cornell. Marsh applauds him for his work ethic on and off the field.
“He’s an engineering student, and that’s one of the most rigorous programs here at Cornell,” said Marsh. “He’s a no-nonsense kid; he gets his work done in the classroom and on the field.”
Kaufmann, a soft spoken individual has started to gel with his teammates. Humble and shy, Kaufmann doesn’t seek the spotlight.
“I’m not sure his teammates knew how to react to him initially because he was so quiet,” said Marsh. “He’s really won them over and really started to come out of his shell.”
Kaufmann’s bread and butter pitcher at the high school level and in college has been his change-up. He also has an ample fastball, and has learned and incorporates a slider and a curve ball to round out his repertoire.
“In high school I was pretty raw as a pitcher,” said Kaufmann. “I’ve learned that the same mistakes that you can get away with in high school can get punished in college.”
Despite the 438-mile trek back to Midlothian, where his parents Carol and Will Kaufmann now reside, Kaufmann says that Ithaca is similar to Chester, it’s a small town, but he misses the warmer weather. Kaufmann has gotten a chance at a homecoming of sorts as Cornell played a series at Longwood a couple of weeks ago. He started the first game of the series and picked up the win, giving up just one run in five and two-thirds innings of work.
You can follow Cornell and Kaufmann the rest of their season by visiting www.cornellbigred.com, the school’s athletics page or follow them on twitter @CornellSports. Look for more features on our spring athletes that now play on the college level in upcoming editions of the Village News.