The Harvard baseball team (5-7) finished up its Spring Break trip in Florida with a three-game set against Army on Thursday and Friday, losing the opening game on Thursday before splitting Friday’s doubleheader with the Black Knights (8-10).
The Crimson recorded double-digit hit totals in each of the three games at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater, with Saturday’s finale rained out after the top of the third inning, with Harvard leading, 3-0.
“This whole break in general has been pretty positive,” captain DJ Link said, “and I think we’re pretty confident going into Ivies that we have a good team, a good lineup, a good staff, and guys in the bullpen who can come in and do their jobs. As a whole, we’re in a good situation.”
Sophomore third baseman John Fallon continued his strong start to the season with four hits and five RBIs. Senior second baseman Mitch Klug had six hits in nine at-bats in the series, improving his batting average from .171 to .273.
HARVARD 5, ARMY 3
The Crimson avoided a sweep Friday afternoon with a win over the Black Knights, riding junior right-hander Nick Gruener’s complete game to a 5-3 win. Gruener improved to 2-1 on the season, striking out four while walking none.
“We all knew [Gruener] was going to go out there and pitch well,” captain Matt Sanders said, “but it was a tremendous effort for him to go out there, throw a complete game, and succeed against their hitters who are scrappy at times. Hats off to him for a great effort and pitching incredibly well.”
Fallon’s third-inning single extended his hit streak to five games, while freshman first baseman Pat McColl also extended his own hit streak to five with a double in the first frame.
Army struck first in the second, but freshman center fielder Ben Skinner, hitting ninth, smashed his first career home run over the left field wall in the top of the fourth to give the Crimson a lead it would never relinquish.
The Black Knights saw their cleanup hitter get on base in every at-bat through six innings, but Gruener stayed composed. In the bottom of the fourth, Army started with three singles but the Miami native battled back with a strikeout and two flyouts to end the rally.
Runs in the sixth and eighth innings gave Harvard insurance heading into the ninth, and after a two-out error allowed the Black Knights to cut the lead to 5-3, Gruener forced a pop up to finish things off.
ARMY 6, HARVARD 4
With ace senior Sean Poppen on the mound in the first game of the doubleheader, bad defense cost the Crimson in a tough 6-4 loss.
Poppen threw six innings while allowing six runs, with only two earned. The death blow came in the top of the sixth, when the Black Knights tagged the Virginia native for four runs, all unearned and all with two outs.
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