It did just that yesterday by sweeping a doubleheader with the Big Green.
“There’s a reason why us and Princeton end up in the championship every year,” said Wahlberg, who pitched the final 5.2 innings of the series finale to clinch Harvard’s second straight Red Rolfe Division title. “We’re the better team.”
After seeing their team come within one win of playing for an Ivy title, Dartmouth’s fans might beg to differ. But they weren’t available for comment yesterday—Harvard (19-21, 11-9 Ivy) had shut them up.
With 19 hits on Sunday, the sound of the Crimson’s hitting parade drowned out the Big Green’s loudmouth brigade, whose merciless taunting of Harvard’s players had helped lift Dartmouth (17-19, 10-10) to a sweep of Saturday’s doubleheader in Hanover, N.H. Harvard coach Joe Walsh admitted that Dartmouth’s rude behavior on Saturday made yesterday’s victories all the more satisfying.
“After [Saturday’s] fiasco—we took a lot of grief from their fans—I thought the guys really wanted to win,” he said.
Harvard couldn’t have done it without gutsy pitching efforts from senior Kenon Ronz in game one and—after freshmen Javier Castellanos and Morgan Brown both proved ineffective—Wahlberg in game two.
Now, just like last year, the Crimson will face the Tigers, winners of the Lou Gehrig Division, for the Ivy crown and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The best-of-three series begins Saturday at Princeton.
Harvard 14, Dartmouth 10
Without a clear fourth starter because of the injury to junior Trey Hendricks, Walsh found success with his “Captain Hook” strategy and sent the Big Green to Neverland.
Walsh cycled through two pitchers before he found one that worked in its closer. But even Walsh never thought Wahlberg, who’s nursed a sore finger for much of the season, would be able to pitch very long when he entered in the fourth inning.
“By the time we got to Barry,” Walsh said, “I really thought we were going to get one inning, maybe two, out of him because of that blister.”
But the injury proved not to be a factor, as Wahlberg held off Dartmouth just enough and let the Harvard bats do the rest.
“We knew they didn’t really have a No. 4 [starter] and we didn’t have a No. 4, so we knew it was going to be a slugfest,” said senior catcher Brian Lentz, who went 5-for-5 in the game. “No lead’s safe with the metal bats, in truth. On a day like today when we brought our closer in in the fourth inning, you know you’re just going to have to outlast them.”
Harvard scored six runs in the first when it sent six men to the plate. But Dartmouth came all the way back to tie the game 7-7 before freshman third baseman Josh Klimkiewicz hit a three-run blast and pinch hitter Rob Wheeler added an RBI single in the fourth.
“I thought the Klimkiewicz homer was huge,” Walsh said.