If you play baseball for a school specializing in math and science, a proper understanding of angles, parabolic curves, and the like should make sacrifice bunts one of the easier fundamentals to master.
Not at MIT.
The Engineers' inability to bunt successfully cost them a couple of games on Wednesday, as Harvard swept its cross-town opponent, 4-2 and 3-2.
With its fifth win in six games, the Crimson extended its record to 15-8 overall and 5-1 in the Greater Boston League. MIT fell to 7-14 and 1-4.
Harvard 4, MIT 2
The Engineers put runners on first and second base with none out in four of the seven innings, but the sacrifice bunt worked on only one of those occasions--and that time by accident.
MIT did jump out to a 1-0 lead off Paul Vallone in the first frame when Ken Switzer drove in Kip Fern from third on an infield grounder.
But Switzer popped up a sacrifice in the third inning, and his bunt attempt in a similar situation in the fifth forced the lead runner at third.
Fern was the first to advance the runners; in the sixth, he tried to avoid an inside pitch by reliever Ed Toland, but the ball happened to strike the bat and landed in fair territory for an eventual sacrifice.
Harvard's relief pitching also accounted for MIT's failure to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
Toland (1-0), who relieved Vallone in the second inning, stranded seven runners in his three and two-thirds innings of pitching. With the bases loaded in the third, he struck out Mike Mountz to end the inning, and with two on and two out in the fifth, he "K"ed Mike Griffin.
Reliever Jim Chenevey entered the contest in the sixth after Toland gave up two hits and the inadvertent sacrifice. Despite walking a a batter and throwing a wild pitch--which allowed a runner to score the team's second run--Chenevey retired the side, striking out Rich Zermani and Craig Poole.
Chenevey's two additional strikeouts in the next inning raised his season total to 13 punch-outs in just seven and one-third innings. His ERA dropped to 1.23.
The Harvard offense, meanwhile, sputtered early against Engineer pitcher Mark Carroll. In the second, catcher Jim DePalo was cut down attempting to score on a double by Chris McAndrews. Moments later, McAndrews, trying to steal third base, was thrown out by catcher Tim Day. In the following inning, Dave Jamieson--batting with a Harvard teammate on first--lined out into a double play.
But the Crimson erased the Engineers' 1-0 lead in the fifth, when a single by Frank Caprio (two-for-three in the game) eluded leftfielder Poole and rolled to the fence--allowing baserunners DePalo, McAndrews and even the speedy Caprio to score on the play. Caprio was credited with a single and RBI, while Poole was charged with a three-base error.