With temperatures hovering in the low 40s and the winds swirling in off the Charles, the 6’7 pitcher made his much-anticipated Ivy League debut a memorable one. After missing two weekends of action due to injury, Brunnig shut out Yale for six innings and, for the most part, managed to shut thoughts of the cold out of his mind.
“I was kind of concerned, but he wanted to go,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. “He felt good. I hope you guys enjoyed him; he’s going to win a lot of games for us over the next four years.”
But it wasn’t easy for the Deland, Fla. native.
“In Florida, you don’t see many games below 65 or so,” Brunnig said on Saturday. “I think I pitched one down there around 55.”
Brunnig threw 119 pitches—a high count for a seven-inning game and Brunnig’s highest all year—and walked three batters.
“My control was off a little,” Brunnig said. “But you throw your fastball, change speeds, try and hit your spots. It’s fun trying to adjust.”
Brunnig faced 30 batters—two more than Yale’s Josh Sowers, who had a much tougher time in the end and surrendered seven runs—but walked the tightrope with an effective fastball, slider and changeup and a splitter that Brunnig unveiled for the first time in game action.
“It just worked when I threw it in the pen, so I tried it in the game,” said Brunnig, who estimated he used the splitter about eight times. “It’s a fun pitch when it works.”
Harvard coach Joe Walsh was grateful that Brunnig was able to battle through the elements to get through the two-run seventh.
“Our middle guys, the closers, we don’t have to look ahead and think of the fourth game [and which relievers to save],” Walsh said. “[Brunnig] gives you those innings that we need. Plus, I like matching him up with other teams’ guys cause he’s a strike thrower.”
Putting On The ’Wicz
Yale heavily recruited freshman Josh Klimkiewicz before the burly Massachusetts native decided to remain local. On Friday, the Bulldogs got to watch what they missed out on fly over the right field wall.
Klimkiewicz’s grand slam in the first game put the Crimson up 5-1 and effectively opened the dam wide for what had been a slumping Harvard team. With the bases loaded after a Bulldog error at third and nobody out, Klimkiewicz got all of Sowers’ first pitch.
Dogged for much of the season by a swollen knee and other lingering effects of an ACL tear that sidelined him last year while still in high school, Klimkiewicz finally broke through, hitting 7-for-11 with six RBI in three games.
According to Walsh, Klimkiewicz had been limited by the knee, which he learned had swollen up after last week’s Princeton series. But for Klimkiewicz, there was a mental component to a slump that found him hitting around .265 for most of the season.