The rule of thumb that dictates regular-season disaster for the team that burns up the Florida Grapefruit Circuit squished the Harvard baseball team last week. After winning five of six games against Rollins, Florida Southern, and Stetson Colleges, the Crimson nine was upset in its Eastern Baseball League opener at Penn, 7-3.
Harvard's showing in the South, where it outscored its opponents 40-14, would be enough to spark dreams of invincibility in the heart of a Cub rooter. Rollins, which had been practicing since January and already had 18 games under its belt, scored four runs in the sixth inning to spoil the Crimson's debut, 6-2, on April 5. But in the second seven-inning contest of the day, Harvard exploded with seven runs in the sixth inning for an 3-5 revenge.
Everybody in the power-packed Crimson lineup got into the act to produce the opening win. Third baseman Jim Tobin started the lucky seven-run outburst with a single, then rode home on sophomore Bob Welz's home run. Al Liebgott, catching the second game in place of Joe O'Donnell, walked. Then followed a parade of singles by second baseman Neil Houston, pinch-hitter O'Donnell, captain John Dockery. shortstop Jeff Grate, and right fielder Dan Hootstein.
A six-run fifth polished off Florida Southern on April 6, 3-3. A day later, Jim McCandlish, Bob Lincoln, and Paul Thornton pitched three innings each in a tight 1-0 shutout as the Crimson swept the Florida Southern series.
Stetson hosted Harvard for a double-header on April 3: after resounding 10-0 and 11-0 drubbings the local boys could only be thankful the games were limited to seven innings each.
Junior Larry Melfa spun a masterful one-hitter in the opener and sophomore Jim Sersich matched his whitewash in the nitecap. At the plate, sophomore Jeff Grate went wild, collecting eight straight hits.
Penn, EIBL cellar-dweller last year, wasn't awed by Harvard's Florida conquests. The Quakers threw sophomore Brian Kochunas, who had a 6.07 earned run average as a freshman, against the Crimson and he held them to a meager three runs.
McCandlish was missing his stuff and control, and coach Norm Shepherd replaced him with senior John Scott after he walked the leadoff man in the sixth, with the score at 3-all. Scott was off form, too, and he walked the bases full before John Murray cleared them and wiped out Harvard with a three-run triple.
Harvard will play its first home game Friday against Boston University, after a Tuesday contest at Springfield.