I've got good news and bad news for Harvard baseball fans. First the good news: the Crimson nine swept a doubleheader from Dartmouth Saturday 1-0 and 13-4, thereby solidifying Harvard's grasp on first place in the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League.
The bad news is that the much touted strength of the Crimson, its pitching, will suffer the loss of number two man Don Driscoll, because of an ankle injury, for the rest of the season and that spot starter and reliever Milt Holt has come up with a sore arm. It'll be an uphill battle to hold on to first.
The pitching staff still has Roz Brayton, who looks even more impressive with each start this season, and he is already the top man in the rotation. Brayton hurled a two-hit shutout in the opener at Hanover, N.H., striking out 11 Big Green batters. Only three men reached base against him.
His opponent, Jim Metzler, allowed just five hits and had the shutout going through six innings. Two of the five hits came in the top of the seventh and proved to be enough to give the victory to Brayton.
It was Hal Smith who came up with the big hit. With one out, Jimmy Stoeckel rapped a single, Harvard's fourth hit. Smith then banged a hit that the center fielder misplayed, falling down in the process and allowing Stoeckel to dash all the way from first to score.
The nightcap proved to be quite a contrast, as the Crimson scored in every inning except the seventh. It was only the second time in 17 years that Dartmouth has lost both games of a doubleheader in Hanover. Penn did it as well earlier in the season.
Ed Durso lead off Harvard's barrage of 16 hits with a single to start the first. He advanced to third on ground balls by Kevin Hampe and Leigh Hogan and scored on a wild pitch by Dartmouth starter Sam Irving.
Sandy Weissant, who went the route for Harvard allowing four runs on seven hits, helped himself out with the bat as he went three for three, with a sacrifice fly, driving in three runs. The Crimson got three runs in the second on Sandy's first RBI single and Hampe's two-run base hit. Hampe went two for four on the afternoon.
Four Crimson runs came across in the third on RBI singles by Ric LaCivita and Weissant and a two-run triple by Rich Bridich. Bridich's hit should have been a home run, but it hit one of the trees that lines the edge of Dartmouth's outfield and was ruled in play, off the wall, so to speak.
Hogan scored in the fourth on Joe Sciolla's sacrifice and a run scored on his grounder in the fifth. Stoeckel drove in the eleventh run with his fifth-inning sacrifice fly. Weissant's sacrifice in the sixth scored Smith and LaCivita and ended the scoring as he came across on a wild pitch.
Mark Ditmar had two RBIs on a pair of singles as Dartmouth came up with two runs in the second and single runs in the fifth and seventh innings. The Big Green threatened on several occasions, but good defensive plays by LaCivita and Stoeckel and Weissant pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the third kept Dartmouth in check.
Coach Loyal Park was obviously pleased with the sweep, but was cautiously pessimistic about the rest of the season. "We're peaking at the right time," he said. "We're been playing well defensively and hitting the ball well. It's too bad, though, that we've lost some of our pitching at this time. We've still got a lot of work ahead of us."
Park plans to revamp the rotation this week, as the Crimson face four, possibly five games. "I may have to bring Norm Walsh out of the bullpen," he said, "and rely more on Kim Sheperd for relief."
This week will be a key test for the Crimson pitching staff. Then we'll see just how deep Harvard pitching really is.