This was an exasperating game. There was a one-hour wait for the umpires' arrival at Soldiers Field, one inning umped by a guy in street clothes, 25 hits, eight errors, two wild pitches and a balk (in the same inning), a pair of intentional walks to get to Harvard's hottest hitter, and a game-saving relief stint by Harvard's number two starting pitcher.
In the end, though, the Crimson batsmen emerged with a welcome 9-7 victory over Tufts and an end to their three-game losing streak. Harvard left fielder Jim Peccerillo, who has batted .526 over the last five games, broke a 6-6 tie with two outs in the bottom of the eighth by knocking in Mike Stenhouse with his third double of the day. And when Charlie Santos-Buch rapped a two-run single to center on the first pitch offered by reliever John Casey, Harvard had its margin of victory.
Stenhouse started the eighth-inning rally with a two-out triple (his second of the game, sixth of the season) to right-center off Tufts southpaw Art Georgeu. Jumbo coach Bill Samko then made the mysterious decision to intentionally walk Harvard cleanup hitter Mark Bingham, a left-handed batter, to get to Peccerillo, a righty who had stung the ball all day and had--unbeknownst to Samko--been hitting .500 the past week.
Peccerillo, a smooth-swinging senior, then sent a 2-2 fastball to left-center via Federal Express, bringing Stenhouse home and setting the stage for Santos-Buch's two-run single.
"That percentage stuff is good in the major leagues, but this isn't the major leagues," Samko said after the game. "Bingham's a damn good hitter, and he's hurt us in the past."
Despite Peccerillo's heroics and the three-run lead, Harvard was not yet out of the game. Freshman John Sorich--who had relieved Crimson starter Paul McOsker in the eighth--allowed one Tufts runner to score and two more to reach base with just one out in the ninth.
Enter Tim Clifford, the mammoth Harvard senior who threw more than 120 pitches against Columbia last Saturday and will start one end of this Saturday's doubleheader with Brown.
Clifford threw just eight pitches on this day, striking out Mike Brown on a turbocharged 2-2 fastball, and getting Georgeu--who dh'd as well as pitched--to watch an 0-2 curve cut right across the plate to end the game.
Earlier in the contest, the Crimson nine looked like they wouldn't need any late-inning heroics to win it. Starter McOsker had his roundhouse curveball in a groove, and the Jumbos managed just a wind-blown home run off him through the first half of the game.
Harvard, meanwhile, took a 6-1 lead on a two-out, four-run rally in the third and an error-aided two-run rally in the sixth.
But McOsker lost his stuff, letting in two runs on wild pitches in the seventh and three more on four straight hard-luck singles with two out in the eighth.
In the final analysis, though, the Tufts comeback just made the Hurry of a finish all the more exciting.
THE NOTEBOOK: Stenhouse's pair of triples gave him six on the season, tying the Harvard record. Channel 4 ran a short piece on Sten on the news last night, as well.
Coach Alex Nahigian brought up hot-hitting sophomore Erol Ceran (as in Saran Wrap) from the junior varsity as his designated hitter in yesterday's game. Ceran went 0-for-4 in his varsity debut.
Santos-Buch's eighth-inning single upped his hitting streak to five straight since he returned from a thigh injury.