Athlete of the Week: Kenon P. Ronz '03

Like a Rock

Harvard coach Joe Walsh has guessed right on enough hunches this year to justify confidence in his power of prophecy. So it was hard to doubt him when he suggested that Dartmouth’s disintegration at O’Donnell Field Sunday had been foretold by another collapse the day before.

“Dartmouth had a bad omen,” Walsh said with a wink after the Crimson clinched its second consecutive Red Rolfe Division title. “The Old Man of the Mountain fell off yesterday.”

Perhaps the demise of New Hampshire’s most famous (only?) landmark did cause the Big Green consternation. Perhaps one monumental collapse did, in fact, beget another. Or perhaps, natural phenomena notwithstanding, the Big Green was instead doomed by The Old Man on the Mound.

It was, after all, senior Kenon Ronz—the grizzled veteran of Harvard’s young starting rotation—who caused the Big Green bats to crumble. Pitching in the tide-turning third game of the all-important series, the southpaw struck out nine and walked none to earn the complete-game victory.

The performance—which at the time loomed as perhaps the last of his career—capped what has been a tremendous comeback season for Ronz. While news reports yesterday named sustained exposure to biting winds and cold responsible for the erosion of the Granite State’s famed rock formation, Harvard’s Old Man has better weathered the elements.

Before this year, the Crimson ace endured a rocky road that saw a rough end to his sophomore season and all of last year spent as a setup man out of the bullpen. But since being moved back to the starter’s role, he’s been leaned on more and more heavily by Walsh. Going into last weekend’s series with Dartmouth, Walsh put Ronz on call for emergency relief duty, an honor reserved for the John Birtwells and Ben Crocketts of years past. Then, after the division clincher, the Crimson skipper confirmed the obvious, calling Ronz the most effective of Harvard’s pitchers right now and all but naming him the No. 1 starter for the Ivy League Championship Series against Princeton.

After an up-and-down career, it’s clear Ronz is at the top of the game. With time has come dominance.

That much was definitely true Sunday, as Ronz peaked with a seventh-inning fireworks display, striking out the side to close out the game. Two of those outs came on called third strikes, no small feat given the miniscule and inconsistent strike zone in effect most of the day.

Dartmouth—accustomed to favorable judgments on most close pitches until then—couldn’t believe the calls. Ronz begged to differ.

“I deserved them at that point,” he said.

If Sunday’s final inning—hell, this entire season—is any indication, it seems Ronz has only grown stronger and more hardened with age, a fact that doesn’t portend well for Princeton.

Yes, this is one rock that won’t crumble under the pressure.