The second time—when catcher Brian Lentz beaned him with a throw intended for second base—Self shook it off, even laughed about it.
The third time? Self had no Houdini acts left in him.
One week after his masterful display of control against Columbia, Self, reprising his role as the replacement for freshman Matt Brunnig, had trouble locating his fastball in yesterday’s 12-0 loss to Cornell.
Four of the five batters he faced in the first inning managed hits off him. But after Lentz and freshman Josh Klimkiewicz—with an assist from freshman leftfielder Chris Mackey—each took turns cutting down Big Red baserunners, Self walked off the mound with little damage done to him, save for one run and a small headache caused by Lentz’ misfire.
“It’s still throbbing a little bit,” Self said after the game. “[The throw] hit me pretty square in the side of the head.”
The second inning, by contrast, was a pain in the neck. At Columbia last week, Self had success mixing a slider and a changeup into his arsenal. He didn’t get to use those pitches much yesterday, as his control problems put him behind early in most of his counts.
“When you’re not spotting your fastball, you can’t set up your off-speed stuff as well,” he said.
Even when Self, a ground-ball pitcher by trade, made the pitches he wanted, Cornell’s hitters managed to find holes.
“That’s one of the frustrating things—when you think you’ve gotten a guy to swing off his front foot or jammed him in on the hands, but the ball gets through the hole or bloops in for a hit,” Self said.
“Obviously most pitchers will say they need their fielders on their toes,” he added. “I probably need it a little more because in my case, I don’t strike guys out with any regularity.”
Dawn of An Error
After three home games, the Crimson’s fresh-faced infield unit has gotten off to a dubious start on the O’Donnell Field dirt. Harvard committed five errors in yesterday’s 12-0 defeat and the Crimson’s three new starters around the horn had a hand in four of them.
“It was really disappointing,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. “We kicked the ball around the infield.”
Sophomore shortstop Ian Wallace had one, while Zak Farkes, Harvard’s rookie second baseman, committed a pair, including a botched double-play ball in the fifth. In addition, Klimkiewicz failed to block a ball in the dirt on a throw by Lentz in the second inning.
“He kind of ole-ed it,” Walsh said. “Lentz made the throw, so I suppose you give him the error. But you’ve got to stop that ball.”