Only a team that has runs to spare can survive two runners caught stealing in the same inning. But with Bill Larson pitching, the Harvard baseball team has runs to spare.
The unquestioned ace of the staff, Larson turned in a typical performance yesterday at Soldiers Field, tossing a seven-bit, 6-3 victory over Columbia. He was helped by a potent display of mid-lineup power, as three-four-five batters Brad Bauer, Vinnie Martelli and Donnie Allard combined for seven hits and drove home the first three Harvard runs.
The lost runners--the final outs of the two-run second inning--kept the game close, and Mike Allen's three-run seventh inning shot made it closer, cutting Larson's lead to 4-3.
But the Crimson didn't even need the unearned runs Lion shortstop Mike DiChiaro gave them with two errors on the same grounder in the bottom of the inning, as Larson mowed down Columbia in order the rest of the way to even Harvard's EIBL and overall records.
First baseman Martelli led the 13-hit Harvard attack, solving Lion Doug Softy for a double and two singles, and knocking in a pair of runs. He also scored the eventual game-winner when designated hitter Paul Chicarello rapped a two-out single in the fifth. Chicarello was gunned down trying for a double (one of four Crimson runners snipered from the basepaths on the day) but not until his blow had plated Martelli from second to give the batsmen a 4-0 lead.
Earlier, by starting an unusual double-play on an attempted sacrifice. Harvard catcher Joe Wark had snuffed out a Columbia rally. With runers on first and second and nobody out in the fifth, Hal Robertson bounced a best off the plate, that Wark barehanded and threw Danny Skaff at third, Skaff relayed to first for the 2-5-3 twin killing.
"That was undoubtably a turning point right there," Harvard coach Alex Nahigian said after the game. And when Larson and second baseman Gaylord Lyman finally connected on their much-practiced pickoff play moments later, trapping Pete Rappa off second for the final out, Columbia's most dangerous rally was extinguished.
The Lions did provide one more tense moment. Mark Hanewich working Larson for a 3-0 count leading off the ninth. But the righthander wouldn't give in, and finally fanned Columbia's co-captain after a called strike and a foul pop. Two fly balls ended the proceedings and gave the sophomore his fourth win in five decisions.
THE NOTEBOOK: Bill Doyle and Greg Brown will take the mound this afternoon as Harvard hosts Penn in an EIBL doubleheader. The Quakers have had pitching problems this season, but their 9-11-1 mark shows they are no pushovers. Look for Martelli to catch half of the twinbill now that he injured hand has healed, with Chuck Marshall getting the nod at first base. Wark has been behind the plate for every game this year, a yeoman effort...Defensive Play of the Day: With one out in the first inning and Columbia's Gene Larkin on second base, leftfielder Paul Scheper made a sliding, one handed catch of a sinking liner. "I always hold up the ball real quick, just like the pros," Scheper said after the game...Everybody got into the hit parade except for Wark, the number-nine hitter. Freshman Bruce Weller continued to excel in the leadoff spot, rapping out two hits in five at bats. E--DiChiaro 2, Rooney, Robertson. Rappa, 2B--Larkin, Rooney, Hanewich. Bauer, Allard, 3B--Bauer, HR--Allen.
E--DiChiaro 2, Rooney, Robertson.
Rappa, 2B--Larkin, Rooney, Hanewich.
Bauer, Allard, 3B--Bauer, HR--Allen.