The Harvard baseball team’s busy Spring Break concluded with a flurry of games in the Carolinas, as the Crimson visited Davidson and South Carolina for one game each before traveling to Furman for four more.
The six games, played between last Wednesday and Saturday, come right after Harvard’s four-game sweep of Presbyterian the weekend prior. The matchups represented a final tune-up before conference play and perhaps a chance to climb over .500 for the Crimson squad.
Harvard, however, floundered early on, getting off to slow starts in being outscored 41-9 over the span of the first three games. The Crimson couldn’t catch any breaks in being routed 13-3 by Davidson and 12-3 by South Carolina before dropping the first game to Furman, 16-3.
Harvard stopped the streak of blowout losses with a solid 6-2 win over Furman on Friday, but still dropped the tail-end pair of games, 7-6 and 8-6.
Despite comebacks wins abounding earlier in the season, early deficits all weekend proved to be killer for the Crimson (7-11). In four of the five games it lost, Harvard left the first inning trailing by at least a run. In the only game it won, the squad left the first inning ahead by a run.
“We definitely want to get off to a better start,” junior center fielder Ben Skinner said. “It’s obviously fun when you come back late in the game and we’ve shown fight this season, but it’s a tough position to be in—we don’t want to have to fight back every single game.”
Through March 18, Davidson was ranked 227th on the RPI Div I baseball rankings, while South Carolina was ranked 127th and Furman was ranked 148th. The Crimson clocked in at 202nd.
“With that being said, we’re not particularly disappointed with the results this weekend,” Skinner said. “Obviously we wanted wins that we didn’t get, but we thought we played well overall, and headed into Ivies, I think we’re feeling pretty confident.”
The team resumes play next weekend at Princeton to kick off Ivy League play.
FURMAN 8, HARVARD 6
Skinner led the way for Harvard offensively, going 3-for-5 at the plate with two runs scored, an RBI, and a stolen base, but Furman’s 15 hits were too much to overcome in the series-capper on Saturday afternoon. For the Paladins (13-7), freshman Ben Anderson shredded the Crimson pitching, gathering four hits in five at-bats, scoring twice, and knocking in three. Anderson is now hitting .413 on the season and has a 1.128 OPS.
For Harvard, junior first baseman Patrick McColl reached base four times in the three-hole, gathering steam after a slow start to the season. Junior catcher Jake Allen, the team’s batting-average leader, went 2-for-5 but struck out twice.
The team’s offensive efforts, however, ultimately fell short as the Crimson couldn’t recover from playing catch-up all game. The squad faced deficits of 4-2 and 6-3 before falling by a final scoreline of 8-6.
“Going forward, we just have to carry the same attitude that we’ve carried into the past couple of weekends, in that, we are a good team, and we belong where we are, playing against good competition,” Allen said. “We’re certainly capable of winning what most people would consider talented baseball programs.”
FURMAN 7, HARVARD 6
Skinner, junior catcher Devan Peterson, and freshman Buddy Mrowka all went yard, but an early 6-0 deficit proved too deep a hole for Harvard to climb out of, even with a furious rally.
In a game scheduled for seven innings due to the Friday doubleheader, Mrowka’s three-run bomb in the sixth inning brought the scoreline to 6-3. Reignited after being shut out all game, the Crimson made a serious comeback bid with three more scores in the final inning, but a single tally in the bottom of the sixth by the Paladins proved fatal in a 7-6 decision.
For the home team, Anderson once again had a good day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs, while junior Bret Huebner went 3-for-3 with the winning RBI single.
Junior righty Kevin Stone pitched yet another complete game but gave up seven earned runs in six innings of work.
HARVARD 6, FURMAN 2
After losing in a third straight rout the day before, Harvard stepped it up on Friday afternoon and took an early lead it never relinquished. For the only time all weekend, the Crimson took the lead out of the first inning, a 1-0 advantage on a McColl RBI, and only built on it from there.
Junior righty Simon Rosenblum-Larson was the hero of the game, safeguarding Harvard’s lead by tossing a complete-game, three-hit effort whilst striking out 11.
The Madison, Wis., native threw 109 pitches, 77 for strikes, walked one, and gave up just one earned run, a last-inning solo home run that didn’t change the course of the game. Part of Rosenblum-Larson’s success came in limiting Anderson, the Paladin’s rookie sensation, to an 0-for-3 game at the plate.
Meanwhile, junior second baseman Matt Rothenberg powered the Crimson offense with two home runs, a solo shot in the second and a two-run blast in the fourth. Senior Austin Black also hit an insurance two-run dinger to up the lead to 6-1 in the sixth.
FURMAN 16, HARVARD 3
The series opener on Thursday afternoon was all Paladins, as the home team walked all over the visiting Crimson squad, 16-3.
After finding itself in a 4-0 deficit early on, Harvard brought it back to a competitive game, 4-3, on a McColl three-run blast. Furman, however, proceeded to put the game well out of reach with a five-spot in the seventh and a seven-spot in the eighth. The Crimson bullpen simply collapsed as the Paladins piled on 17 hits over the course of the game, most of which came in the merry-go-round seventh and eighth innings.
In a bright spot for the team, Harvard drew 10 walks on the game, displaying its patience at the plate.
SOUTH CAROLINA 12, HARVARD 3
On Wednesday in Columbia, S.C., the Crimson was unable to keep pace with South Carolina (13-7), a strong SEC team that defeated No. 2 Florida just last Saturday.
The Gamecocks scored twice in the opening frame to take a 2-1 lead and never looked back, getting RBIs from six different players en route to a 12-3 victory. Harvard sophomore Hunter Bigge got the loss on the mound after pitching 4.2 innings, giving up seven runs, four of them unearned. The righty also issued six walks.
Skinner went 2-for-3 in the leadoff spot and drew two free passes, while Black went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. Black’s fourth-inning homer and RBI double in the fifth were most of what the Crimson could muster after a promising first frame led to just one run.
South Carolina outhit Harvard 14-6 and committed one error to the Harvard’s two.
DAVIDSON 13, HARVARD 3
The feel-good vibes from the Crimson’s four-game win streak didn’t last long, as Davidson (14-5) put a hurting on the visiting Harvard squad early and often on Tuesday.
The Wildcats put up nine runs before the Crimson even scratched the scoreboard in the sixth inning. Trailing 9-0, Harvard scored a few more times on four hits, but the runs didn’t matter, as the visitors eventually fell 13-3.
Davidson took a 3-0 lead four batters into the game, and the Crimson never recovered as the game quickly became a blowout. The game foretold the troubles that Harvard would have in falling behind early all week long.
A platoon of four Crimson pitchers each worked an inning in relief of sophomore starter Kieran Shaw, who was tagged for seven runs, eight hits, and two homers in the loss.
—Staff writer Bryan Hu can be reached at email@example.com.
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