PRINCETON, N.J.--A shortage of arms finally caught up to the Harvard baseball team yesterday, as the Crimson (8-11, 3-1 Ivy) wrapped up a marathon 16-game, 10-day road trip with a doubleheader split at Clarke Field.
Junior ace John Birtwell was supposed to start the second game at Princeton. But, after pitching 1.1 innings at Cornell to earn his first career save on Saturday, Birtwell felt soreness in his right shoulder and Harvard Coach Joe Walsh elected not to start him against the Tigers (7-12).
"Birtwell said his shoulder was sore at points this morning, and at other points it wasn't, and I think that was him trying to gut it out, so I kept him out," Walsh said.
That late scratch forced Harvard to go deep into its pen in yesterday's nightcap, and was a big part of a 12-3 loss that left an ugly smudge on what had been a productive opening Ivy weekend, including a Saturday sweep of Cornell.
Harvard got three good outings--from winners Justin Nyweide and Mike Madden at Cornell and from sophomore Ben Crockett in yesterday's opener--but just couldn't stretch its bullpen through four games.
An Ivy rule revision that lengthened the second game of all league doubleheaders to nine innings (up from seven) didn't help, and neither did seven Harvard errors in yesterday's doubleheader, three from third baseman Nick Carter.
"Our defense didn't show up today," Walsh said. "We weren't making some routine high school plays, and a ball club that can't play defense isn't a good ball club. Can we play better? Certainly. Will we play better? I don't know."
Harvard's big bright spot was catcher Brian Lentz's breakout weekend. The sophomore, who was recruited for both football and baseball but didn't play either last year, was explosive at the plate, going 9-for-17 with two triples and six RBI, including game-winning RBI in both games of the Cornell sweep.