You can call it the first big game of the year, or you can listen to coach Alex Nahigian, who says, "We take them all one at a time" But however you do it, chalk up yesterday's 6-5 victory over Princeton as a big win for the Harvard baseball team.
Several players chipped in with key hits, but once again Brad Bauer's bat knocked home the gamewinner. The freshman shortstop, who leads the team with 15 RBIs, lashed a Chris Cascia fastball into left-centerfield with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning to score pinch-runner Paul Scheper and break a 5-5 tie.
Cascia, pitching in relief of Tiger starter and ace Mark Lockenmeyer, then forced Rick Pearce to ground into a double play, but Rob Alevizos set the Tigers down in order in the ninth to improve Harvard's Eastern League record to a league-leading 6-0.
Lockenmeyer entered the game as the league's top hurler, boasting a 1.08 ERA and a 3-1 record. But the Crimson bats sullied the righthander early, reaching him for a run on three singles in the bottom of the first.
His mates got it right back for him in the second, and a solo homer by Ted Frangos in the fourth gave Lockenmeyer and the Tigers a 2-1 lead which they held until the sixth.
But as a medium-sized weekday crowd looked on, the home team erupted for four runs on four hits to take a 5-2 lead. Rick Pearce led of the frame with a double, and a hit batsman and single quickly loaded the bases. Captain Charlie Santos Buch then lashed a liner to centerfield, which easily plated Pearce from third and almost knocked Bobby Kelley in from second as well.
A perfect relay from shortstop Tom Hagerstrom to catcher Rod Shepard nailed Kelley, however, as the Tigers recorded their first out of the inning.
Designated hitter Eddie Farrell then tapped a curveball back to the box, but Lockenmeyer's throw to the plate glanced off Shepard's glove for an error and another run.
Chuck Marshall rapped home Harvard's fourth tally by blooping a single over the drawn-in infield, and Joe Wark put the Crimson up by three on a fielder's choice to short which scored Farrell.
Princeton cut the lead to two in the seventh, and tied the game and knocked Larson out of the box in one motion in the eighth.
One of the few Eastern League moundsmen who also takes his turn at the plate, Lockenmeyer performed a college baseball rarity, helping his own cause with a two-run double down the first-base line. The blow forced Nahigian to look to his bullpen for relief, and once again Rob Alevizos was there.
Alevizos had racked up a win and a save in three appearances, but despite not allowing a run, he had denied throwing well. This time, everyone there understood what he had meant: Alevizos on a good day is unhittable.
"The last two outings my fastball has been really zipping, and today my slider broke like hell," Alevizos said after the game. "I threw nine straight sliders at one point."
Three walks (one intentional) sent Lockenmeyer to the showers and put Bauer at the plate with the bases loaded and Cascia on the mound.
Still recovering from a recently shaved head ("our spring trip to Richmond"), Cascia served up an inside fastball, which Bauer belted to drive in Scheper with the winning run. W--Pearce, Kelley, Shepard; 2B--Lockenmeyer, Pearce, Shepard, Miller; HR-Frangos HBP--Kelley (by Lockenmeyer)
W--Pearce, Kelley, Shepard; 2B--Lockenmeyer, Pearce, Shepard, Miller; HR-Frangos HBP--Kelley (by Lockenmeyer)
HBP--Kelley (by Lockenmeyer)