The Harvard men's baseball team expected to beat some college teams on its Florida road trip. But beating pros was a spring training bonus.
The Crimson compiled a 4-5 record on its southern swing, including two wins against a Red Sox minor league squad. It was Harvard's best start in five years.
"This is a much better start than last year when we got smoked in California," first baseman Nick Del Vecchio said.
Harvard kicked off its annual spring trip at Tigertown by splitting a doubleheader with the University of Toledo. Harvard dropped the first game, 3-2, wasting a stellar five inning pitching performance by Bob Baxter, who gave up only one earned run but was victimized by five errors. Toledo held the Crimson scoreless for five innings until Tim Hurley doubled in two runs in the top of the sixth.
After Jim Mwroka drew a walk to lead off the seventh, Del Vecchio rapped a single into center. However, Mwroka was thrown out at third, and after Del Vecchio stole second, outfielder Marcel Durand grounded to shortstop. Catcher Aron Allen flied to right to end the game.
Harvard exploded with 15 hits to take the nightcap, 13-2. Durand and Mike Hill led the charge, combining for four hits and 6 RBI while Captain Tom Konjoyan and Geoff Fletcher each banged out three hits. Todd Forman pitched six shutout innings to get the victory as the Crimson played errorless baseball.
The Crimson beat a Red Sox single A team made up of players from Elmira and Winter Haven on March 25 by an 8-3 margin. Phil Andriola clubbed a three run homer in the sixth and Fletcher added a solo shot in the seventh to pace a 12- hit attack. Baxter, John Donahue and Tom Hurley combined to limit the Sox to three runs on six hits.
On Monday, Harvard dropped both ends of a twinbill to a strong Stetson University team. Starter Mike Dorrington pitched well in the opener but made two mistakes--two crucial two-run homers in the fourth. The Hatters pounded out 11 hits en route to a 7-3 victory. Dan Scanlan went three-for-three in a losing cause.
Stetson swept the doubleheader, 8-4, behind strong pitching that held Harvard to just four hits. Meanwhile, Stetson hitters knocked in eight runs on 12 hits.
The next day, Harvard dropped a 6-4 decision to the Sox as Boston's farmhands snuffed out a Crimson rally in the ninth. Konjoyan and Wan Zarate singled to start the inning, and Del Vecchio knocked in Konjoyan with a base hit. With runners on the corners, Shire flew out to center deep enough to score Zarate to cut the Bosox lead to two runs. But Tim Hurley and Allen both flied out to end the game.
Harvard took the rubber game against the Bosox on Wednesday, 10-6, as the Crimson jumped all over five opposing pitchers for 16 hits and 10 runs. The Crimson, leading 6-5 going into the top of the eighth, sent eight men to the plate and scored four times to seal the victory.
After falling to Florida International on Thursday, 4-1, Harvard ended its trip on a positive note with a tough 3-2 win over a solid Eastern Illinois squad. The offense was anemic on both sides, but the Crimson's pitching prevailed.
"The team looks strong," rightfielder Ted Decareau said. "We have solid defense and our hitting is strong. If our pitching holds up, we can definitely give Penn a run for the Ivy championship."
THE NOTEBOOK: Weather permitting, the Crimson will take on Northeastern in a doubleheader today at Soldiers Field and B.C. tomorrow in Newton...Durand led the team with a .389 batting average for the trip...Konjoyan hit .350 and produced the team's only dinger.