Harvard's baseball team dropped its second-to-last game of the season yesterday to Northeastern at Soldier's Field, 14-4.
The 10-run deficit tied the Crimson's (13-21-1, 7-13 Ivy) largest of the year, coming against a potent Husky squad (29-12) getting ready for the upcoming Mid-Atlantic playoffs. In the two teams' previous meeting of the year, in the opening round of the Beanpot Tournament, Harvard outhit Northeastern nine to five and played the favored Huskies close before succumbing, 4-1.
But yesterday, the baseball gods on high did not have a similar game in mind. The Huskies started the route by exploding for seven runs in the third to break open a scoreless game and knock out Crimson starter Jamie Irving.
Irving pitched left-handed after having started Harvard's last game, against Boston College on May 4, tossing from the right side. In that game against BC, Irving threw a strong five innings, scattering four hits and three runs (only one earned).
But the switch back to the south side, the arm Irving has predominantly used this year, was traumatic. In two and one-third innings, he allowed seven hits and seven runs.
"They hit the ball hard and in the right spots," Irving said. "They were hitting the ball where we weren't."
But Irving did not make the standard pitching excuses.
"I wouldn't make the excuse that I didn't have good stuff," he continued. "It was just one of those days. It's kind of the story of the season."
Irving also faced Northeastern in the Beanpot, pitching a stingy seven innings in which he allowed only five hits and four runs while striking out six.
Losing 7-0 at this point, Harvard responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. The rally included a two-run double by leftfielder Case Korpan, making the most of his first base hit of the year in his first start of the year.
But 7-3 was as close as the Crimson would get. The Huskies scored a run in the top of the sixth, and then six more in the top of the seventh against Tim Vanech. Harvard clawed back for a run in the bottom of the eighth to make the final score 14-4.
"Northeastern is a quality team," said catcher Stephen Sadowski, who went two for four with an RBI. "Our pitchers fell behind, and good hitters take advantage of that. Unfortunately, we ran into a good team gearing up for its playoffs."
The Crimson was outhit 16 to seven, but for the seventh time this year did not commit an error. In addition, Harvard might have been flat because of the week-long lay-off between its last game against BC.
"We were probably hurt that we took a week off," rightfielder Mike Hochandel said.
Not all news was bad for the Crimson, however. Pitcher Frank Hogan, who picked up for Irving, pitched three and two-thirds solid innings, giving up only four hits and a run while striking out three. And freshman Terry Hurt, who had appeared in 15 games as non-pitcher, made his collegiate pitching debut a memorable one.
Hurt mowed down all seven batters he faced, striking out one. Hurt had pitched in high school, but was recruited by Coach Leigh Hogan '76 as an infielder and outfielder.
Harvard finishes its year today on the road against UMass.
UMass is also getting primed for postseason play, and Harvard will have to catch some breaks to end the season with a win.
"UMass and Northeastern are probably the two best Division One teams in New England," Sadoski said. "We'll have to play hard, and hopefully pull off a 'W'".
"Coach told us just to forget about today and finish up strong tomorrow," Irving added.