Harvard's varsity nine brought its mistake-prone brand of baseball home to Soldiers Field yesterday, continuing the tradition of last weekend's Penn-Columbia disasters with an error-filled, high-scoring loss to the Engineers of MIT.
The game was called after eight innings because of darkness, with the Crimson batmen on the wrong end of an 8-7 count. The eighth and tying run for Harvard, in the person of Leon Goetz, had been cut down at the plate a few minutes earlier, squashing a last inning rally and insuring the squad's fourth consecutive loss and sixth in 18 outings this year.
The young Crimson lost the game in the sixth inning, when seven Engineers paraded across the plate in front of catcher Bill Cote. Previous to that, Harvard had been cruising along on the strength of a 4-0 lead, as pitcher Larry Brown mowed down virtually all MIT comers through the first five stanzas.
Corby Saunders gave the Crimson a first inning lead of 1-0, belting a triple which drove in freshman Dave Singleton from first base. Singleton, who had four hits in five trips to the plate, then came back in the second after Barry Cronin's run-scoring triple to crack a two-run homer and give the Crimson its four-run edge.
Brown yielded only one hit on the day (the Engineers ended up with a whopping total of six), a single by Mike Dziekan in the fourth, but he ran out of gas and strikes in the sixth. The freshman departed with one run in and runners on first and third following two walks and, yes, an error by second baseman Barry Cronin which allowed the run to score.
Senior Ken Petkunas came on to do the pitching chores for Harvard and struck out the first man he faced. It was downhill from there, however, as the Crimson reacted to the pressure situation with a variety of mental and physical miscues.
Third baseman Saunders was the guilty party of the first part, taking a grounder at third and bouncing his throw to second on the ground and off Cronin's head into the outfield. With the score now 4-2, Petkunas got in the act by fielding a sacrifice bunt and throwing late to first base, allowing another Engineer to make his way home.
Another walk loaded the bases, and Petkunas was through for the afternoon. Mark Linehan was next in line, and he promptly gave up three consecutive singles to left, the last one a two-run grounder by Roy Henriksson making it 7-4, MIT.
Consecutive doubles by Singleton and Saunders and a single by Paul Halas in the bottom of the sixth pulled Harvard to within one run at 7-6, but Dzieken launched reliever Paul McOsker's first pitch of the next inning high over the right field fence, giving MIT what was to be its winning run.
The Crimson last-gasped in the eighth as darkness decended, scoring a run on Jim Peccerillo's base hit to left after an error and a double by Goetz, but the relay from third base on the play caught Goetz trying to score. Pinch hitter Mike Lynch's line drive to left was gloved, and the curtain fell on another loss for Loyal Park's troops.