After a difficult spring break at the Homestead Challenge, Harvard continued its early season hitting difficulties with a 3-1 loss to Rhode Island yesterday. Winners of their previous five games, the Rams stiffled the Crimson with a combination of solid pitching and timely hitting.
Harvard (3-12) received a solid team pitching effort from its combination of six different pitchers. Junior Kenon Ronz, who started the game, gave up two hits and struck out two in two scoreless innings. With four games this weekend, Harvard rested its arms, allowing its pitchers to pitch at most two innings.
Junior Mahdu Satyanarayana added a scoreless third inning, allowing only one hit and striking out one. Junior Barry Wahlberg pitched a 1-2-3 fourth and Senior Chaney Sheffield did the same in the seventh. Senior Nick Carter, who started the game at third base, finished the game with a scoreless eighth.
However, Rhode Island’s pitchers out-dueled the Crimson, matching Harvard scoreless inning to scoreless inning. Sophomore Matt Preston, who started the game, threw five scoreless innings, allowing only two hits with three strikeouts. Freshman Dan Frederick earned the win for URI (14-12) with two innings of scoreless, one-hit relief.
Once again, the story of the game was the silence of Harvard’s bats. The Crimson managed just four hits off Rams pitchers, and before the ninth inning Harvard didn’t come close to scoring. Wednesday’s game was the eighth this season where the Crimson scored no more than one run. The Crimson has squandered strong pitching efforts all season long.
“Us hitters owe it to the pitchers to start hitting,” senior left fielder Javy Lopez said. “We just haven’t been producing for them.”
Rhode Island started the scoring with a big fifth inning. Sophomore Jared Trout led off with a single. A Nick Carter error on a Matt Sullivan grounder advanced Trout to third. Senior Mike Schiappa was intentionally walked to load the bases for fellow senior Matt Jackson. Jackson hit a sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Rams their first run. Sophomore John Blaze singled, driving in Schiappa and Sullivan to give Rhode Island the 3-0 advantage.
The lone mark on the Harvard pitching staff was the inconsistent performance of sophomore Trey Hendricks. Hendricks gave up all three of the Rams runs, although he recorded three strikeouts in his two innings pitched. Hendricks, who doubles as the team’s DH, had a better day at the plate, recording one of the Crimson’s four hits.
As a team, Harvard’s bats finally woke up in the ninth inning, as the Crimson staged a comeback. Sophomore Marc Hordon notched a one-out double and later scored on an RBI grounder from freshman Schuyler Mann. That would be as close as the Crimson would get, as freshman Ian Wallace struck out to end the contest. Despite his trouble finishing off the Crimson, Rams closer Chris Fisher notched his fourth save of the season, allowing only the one run on one hit in the ninth.
With the Ivy League season starting this weekend, the Crimson need its batting to improve. Harvard travels to Princeton and Cornell for four crucial early season tests. Princeton boasts one of the strongest offenses in the league, and a quality pitching staff. Harvard can ill afford to start this season with four losses if it harbors any hope of playing in the Ivy league title game.
“We’re definitely ready for Princeton,” Lopez said. “We’re gonna try to forget about what’s happened so far.”