Gerri Rubin's strong pitching propelled the Harvard softball team to its first-ever victory over MIT yesterday, at Soldier's Field.
Rubin struck out six and allowed only four hits in the Crimson's 5-2 triumph, the squad's second win in two contests.
A junior, and an All-Ivy selection Rubin also picked up the win in Tuesday's season-opening 8-2 defeat of Boston University.
"Gerri was on top of her game," Harvard Coach John Wentzell said. "It's the best we've seen her pitch, and she did a good job on defense, too."
The defensive action came early on, as MIT's leadoff batter laid down a bunt between the mound and first. Rubin snagged the dribbler and threw the ball to second-baseman Mary Baldauf, who was covering first on the play.
The following hitter also grounded to the mound and was retired by Rubin.
In the home half of the first, the Crimson threatened to break the game open, after Baldauf, Mary MacKinnon, and Gia Barresi reached base, loading the sacks with none out. However, all the squad could manage was one tally, on a sacrifice fly to right by Sharon Hayes.
Rubin had to work out of a jam of her own making in the second, after giving up a leadoff triple to MIT pitcher--and cleanup hitter--Lou Jaudura. The drive, a high liner to right center, was cut off in the gap by center-fielder Mary Paul, who pegged the ball back in to keep the runner from scoring.
Jaudura was stranded on third, as Rubin settled down to retire the following three batters, on a pop-up and two strikeouts.
Hardvard increased its lead to three on its next turn at bat. Paul walked with two down, setting the stage for Baldauf--who slammed a line drive over the center-fielder's head for a two-run homer.
"Mary Baldaf has been our sparkplug," Wentzell said of his freshman standout. "She hit the ball on the nose all day."
In the third, Rubin picked up where she had left off in the second, striking oug the side, to give her five consecutive whiffs.
"When Gerri is throwing like that, it makes it all easy," Wentzell said.
Neither side scored again until the sixth, although Harvard mounted a threat in the fourth with a pair of two-out singles by Baldauf and pinch-hitter Joan Cunningham.
In the top of the sixth, however, MIT's first two batters reached base--the first on an infield single to third, and the second on a routine grounder, when shortstop Hayes' throw skipped off first-baseman Trisha Brown's glove.
With the potential tying run at the plate, Rubin once again toughened up in the clutch, and retired the next three hitters. She capped the comeback by catching Jaudura on a called third strike.
The six strikeouts on the day gave the hurler a total of nine for the year--already one-third of her last season's total of 27.
The Crimson padded its lead in the bottom of the sixth, as eight batters came to the plate.
Pinch-hitter Kristen Abely walked, but was erased on the ensuing play. Hanya Bluestone, who had replaced Paul in center, lofted a fly to right, which was dropped by the MIT fielder, Maria Koslowski.
The ball dropped right at Koslowski's feet, however, and she hurried the throw in to second, forcing Abely.
With Bluestone now on first, Baldauf lined a solid single into center. After MacKinnon walked, catcher Gia Barresi knocked in the fourth run with a shot up the middle.
Baldauf scored on cleanup-hitter Brown's at-bat, when Jaudura unleashed a wild pitch over everything.
Harvard's shutout was spoiled in the seventh, as Rubin gave up a leadoff single to MIT. With one out, the third batter hit a ground ball to Hayes, who attempted to start a 6-4-3 doubleplay.
Baldauf couldn't handle her toss, however, and both runners were safe.
Hayes bounced back on the next play, charging a grounder and nailing the throw to first.
But then Koslowski pulled a single into left, picking up two RBI. Fortunately, before the visitors could engineer a comeback. Crimson third-baseman Lisa Rowning made the play of the day, to snap the lid on the victory.
Stacy Thompson lined the ball down the line, the MIT batters' ability to get around on the ball perhaps indicating that Rubin was tiring after throwing more than 90 pitches.
Rowning dove hard to her right, intercepting the shot in midair, to stop both the ball and the ballgame.
"We were 0-2 in our previous games against MIT," Wentzell said. "They had a very good pitcher, who graduated. It's nice to see them without her."
The batswomen next see action on Saturday, when they travel to Mt. Holyoke for a doubleheader.