The wins were a little sweeter for Lance Salsgiver.
In a weekend in which the Harvard baseball team split four games on a swing through the Louisiana Bayou,the sophomore outfielder from Davison, Mich. took a little extra joy in sweeping a pair from his home state Wolverines.
“I probably knew about 10 guys on the team,” Salsgiver said. “It certainly [made it a lot more satisfying].”
Behind stellar pitching from senior Trey Hendricks and sophomore Matt Brunnig and timely hitting, the Crimson (4-4) topped the Big Ten team once each on Saturday and Sunday, but dropped a set of slugfests to host Louisiana-Lafayette.
“I think we had a pretty good weekend,” Salsgiver said. “We ran into a pretty good hitting team there, against Louisiana-Lafayette, and our pitching wasn’t as good as it could have been, but I think that we’re making progress.
ULL 23, HARVARD 9
The Ragin’ Cajuns were swinging the bats as if they were from Baton Rouge, not Lafayette, yesterday, as ULL pounded out 22 hits off of six Harvard pitchers in a display of offensive power.
Harvard starting pitcher Mike Morgalis (0-2) took the loss, allowing eight earned runs in three innings.
Trailing 6-1 through three innings, the Crimson rallied back to tie the score in the top of the fourth. With two outs and Hendricks on third, sophomore Frank Herrmann blasted a two-run homer to pull the score to 6-3. Freshman left fielder David Bach then singled, stole second and scored on a base hit by sophomore shortstop Morgan Brown. Senior center fielder Bryan Hale then drove in Brown with Harvard’s second homerun of the inning to tie the game at 6-6.
But the Ragin’ Cajuns answered right back with six runs in the bottom of the inning, and the Crimson never threatened again.
Hendricks and Hale finished 2-for-4 and 2-for-5, respectively, while sophomore second baseman Zak Farkes added three hits for Harvard.
First baseman Phillip Hawke went 2-for-5 with five RBI for ULL, finishing the weekend with 11 RBI in two-games against the Crimson.
HARVARD 5, MICHIGAN 3
The day after picking up his first career save against the Wolverines, Hendricks once again nailed down a Harvard victory.
Hendricks (1-1) tossed a 10-hit, complete game and went 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI-double to lead the Crimson past Michigan (5-9) for the second time in as many days.
Harvard jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first. Michigan ace Michael Penn walked Salsgiver to open the game. Salsgiver then advanced on a single by sophomore second baseman Zak Farkes and a pass ball, before scoring on grounder by junior catcher Schuyler Mann to put the Crimson up 1-0.
After the Wolverines evened the score in the top of the second, Harvard went ahead for good with two runs in the bottom of the third.
Sophomore left fielder Chris Mackey—who celebrated his 21st birthday over the weekend—lined an RBI double to left and advanced to third on a single by Salsgiver. Farkes then laid down a sacrifice bunt to bring home Mackey, and Salsgiver later scored on a wild pitch.
Harvard rapped out 10 hits, led by Hendricks and Farkes, who finished the game 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles.
Third baseman A.J. Scheidt led Michigan’s offense with three hits, including his team-leading third homer. Penn (1-1) took his first loss of the season, allowing seven hits and three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.
HARVARD 3, MICHIGAN 1
For seven full innings, junior Rob Wheeler sat in the dugout and watched his Harvard teammates swing and miss. But in the eighth—after a single by Salsgiver, a double by Hendricks and a Mann walk loaded the bases—Wheeler had to watch no more.
With the score knotted at 1-1 and sophomore Josh Klimkiewicz up, Harvard coach Joe Walsh called for his favorite pinch hitter, and Wheeler did not disappoint, knocking a two-RBI double down the right field line to put Harvard ahead for good.
“I had the same plan that I have every time I go up to pinch hit,” Wheeler said, “and that’s to swing at anything in the strike zone. And it worked out. I got a pitch low in the zone, which is what I like, and I took it to right field.”
Brunnig (1-1) earned the win in a stellar pitching perfomance. The 6’7 hurler rebounded from a rocky season-opening start two weeks ago in Texas to toss eight innings, allowing only one earned run on three hits while striking out six.
Hendricks tossed a perfect ninth to seal the win and pick up the save.
“Both [Hendricks and Brunnig] came up huge for us,” Salsgiver said. “They were around the plate all weekend and did a great job keeping the Michigan hitters off balance.”
Michigan took the early 1-0 lead on an RBI single by left fielder Brad Roblin in the first, but Brunnig quickly settled in, facing only 12 batters over the next four frames.
The Crimson tied the game in the fourth when senior Bryan Hale was hit by a pitch to open the inning, Hale advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches and scored on a fielder’s choice.
Salsgiver—who finished 2-for-4—had the only multi-hit day for Harvard, who won despite striking out a season-high 14 times while only collecting six hits.
Derek Feldkamp (1-2) took the loss for Michigan.
ULL 14, HARVARD 5
In a game reminiscent of the slugfests down in Texas, the Crimson was blown out in its opening game on the Bayou, despite pounding out 13 hits.
Sophomore Frank Herrmann (1-1)—who tossed a complete game eight-hitter in his first collegiate start two weeks ago—struggled in his second, allowing five earned runs in just one inning.
Hendricks went 3-for-5 with a homerun to lead the Crimson offense, while Mann added three hits and drove in three runs.
Justin Merendino went 4-for-6 with a homer, and Hawke had six RBIs to pace the Ragin’ Cajuns.
—Staff writer Lande A. Spottswood can be reached at email@example.com.