NEW HAVEN--Someone sent the Harvard baseball team a perfectlytimed wake-up call.
After limping to a 4-7 overall record during the first part of the season, the Crimson bats and arms woke up in Harvard's first weekend of Eastern League (EIBL) play.
Harvard crushed Brown in a doubleheader at Providence Saturday, 9-3, 15-6, and split a pair of games yesterday with the Elis here at Yale Field, losing the opener, 9-6, but taking the nightcap, 6-3. The victories put Harvard in the center of the race for the EIBL crown with a 3-1 league record, even after its slow start.
"The whole team's playing great," Harvard Coach Alex Nahigian said. "The kids are all having fun."
Even without ace southpaw Bob Baxter, who missed the trip because of soreness in his elbow, the Crimson got solid pitching from winning starters Mike Dorrington, Zach Hope, and Jon Biotti.
But the real story of the weekend was the hitting. Harvard simply overpowered opposing pitchers. In the doubleheader against Brown, the Crimson exploded for 16 extra-base hits (3 homers, 8 triples and 5 doubles) en route to a pair of blowout wins. The attack continued against Yale as Harvard connected for 22 hits and a pair of roundtrippers.
When you score 36 runs in a weekend, there are plenty of heroes, but Freshman Aron Allen outdid them all. The rookie third basemen went 10-for-12 on the weekend, including a grand slam, a solo homer and two triples, drove in 11 runs, and scored seven times.
Centerfielder Dan McConaghy had five hits and knocked in six runs. Co-Captain Frank Caprio scored seven runs and had six hits, including a homer against the Bruins that may still be rolling down I-95.
Even the bottom of the order ate its Wheaties this weekend. Second baseman Casey Cobb clubbed a three-run homer against Brown and blasted a three-run double against Yale. And rightfielder Ted Decareau smashed a pair of doubles in the nightcap in Providence and blasted a two-run homer in the opener here.
"Everybody's contributing from the guys at the top of the order to the guys at the bottom," Caprio said. "Last year we had a lot of lowscoring games, but this year we're really hitting the ball well."
Harvard didn't need that much offense with Dorrington on the mound in the weekend's first game. The powerful righthander held the Bruins to just six hits and two earned runs in seven innings. Although he walked seven batters, many of them late in the game, Dorrington never lost his poise.
Helped by McConaghy's three-run triple in the sixth inning and Cobb's blast in the seventh, the Crimson exploded for seven runs against losing pitcher Jeff Silva to take the first game.
In Saturday's nightcap, Hope held the Bruins to a single run over the first five innings until Brown touched him for six runs in the sixth. But by that time, it was all but over.
Harvard had erupted for seven runs in the third inning against loser Jim Duchesneau on Allen's slammer and Decareau's three-run double, and had reached reliever Tom Connors for another three runs in the fifth to take a commanding 12-1 lead into the sixth. Cody Weston came on to relieve Hope and close down Brown the rest of the way.
Harvard didn't have as much success in the opener against Yale. Starting righthander Greg Ubert struggled against the Elis, yielding six runs in four innings. Weston came on in relief, but he gave up three runs over the last two frames to take the loss.
The defeat spoiled the Crimson's perfect weekend as well as a five-run second inning Harvard produced against Yale starter Marc LaMagna with the help of Cobb's three-run double and Decareau's homer. Greg Ager came on to replace LaMagna and take the win, while Pablo Munoz earned his sixth save.
In the nightcap, Biotti got revenge for the Harvard loss, giving up just three runs on five hits in six innings of work. The lanky righthander's motion confused the Yale hitters as he retired the side in order in the first, third, and fifth innings. Vic McGrady came on in the seventh to earn a save.
"[Biotti] threw the ball pretty good," Yale Coach Joe Benanto said.