The Harvard baseball team opened the 2004 season much how everyone expected—obliterating opposing pitching.
But since opening the Ivy League schedule with an April 3 loss to Cornell in Ithaca, the Crimson has come upon a different, more winning strategy.
The bats are still there—Harvard still leads the Ancient Eight in home runs and RBI. But pin the Crimson’s torrid Ivy winning streak—they swept the Columbia Lions (8-16, 5-5 Ivy) in Friday’s doubleheader 4-3 and 10-2, bringing the streak to five games—on something quite different.
“My pitching philosophy is simple,” Hall of Famer Satchel Paige once said. “Keep the ball away from the bat.”
Harvard pitchers may well have taken this philosophy to heart. With normal Game 1 starter Matt Brunnig out with tendonitis in his right elbow, senior pitchers Jason Brown—who moved into the one slot—and Mike Morgalis combined to limit the Lions to 11 hits and four runs in 13 2/3 innings at O’Donnell Field.
Since April 3, Harvard (11-9, 5-1 Ivy) had held Ivy League batters to a microscopic .189 batting average through Friday.
“If [Brown and Morgalis] and our other pitchers can keep up this trend,” junior catcher Schuyler Mann said, “our team will go far in the Ivy League.”
Mann attributed the success of Friday’s starters to their ability to “challenge” the Columbia hitters with a bevy of well-located fastballs and breaking balls.
“They also moved the fastball in and out very well,” Mann said, “and caught a lot of the Columbia hitters off-guard with some inside heat.”
Harvard coach Joe Walsh said he was happy about the pitchers’ ability to get ahead in the count.
“When our pitchers are throwing first-pitch strikes,” he said, “that helps a lot.”
With the wins, the Crimson maintained a one-game lead over Dartmouth and Brown in the Ivy League’s Red Rolfe Division.
HARVARD 10, COLUMBIA 2
Thanks to eight solid innings of one-run ball from Morgalis (2-2) and some fireworks from the bats of sophomore Zak Farkes and Mann, the Crimson capped off a dominant doubleheader against Columbia with a 10-2 victory Friday afternoon at O’Donnell Field.
Farkes and Mann hit home runs and sophomore designated hitter Frank Herrmann added three RBI in the rout. After Farkes’s two-run shot—his league-leading seventh of the season—staked Morgalis to a 4-1 lead in the third inning, the game never really was close.
“The big important thing was, after winning the first one, you really knew that we had to take two today,” Morgalis said. “I tried to set the tone early in a close game, 2-1, then we broke it open.”
Morgalis gave up a solo shot to Columbia outfielder Ray Waters in the top of the second, but that was all the scoring he would surrender. The Cincinnati standout, a transfer from Notre Dame, looked dominant on the mound, giving up only five hits and two walks and striking out six.
“I tried to keep them out of the game emotionally,” Morgalis said, “because they were really into it the first game.”
Sophomore Lance Salsgiver chipped in three hits for the Crimson, who banged out 11 in all. Harvard’s five-run fifth—started by Mann’s fourth home run of the season—gave the team a 10-1 lead.
That allowed Salsgiver to make a pitching appearance—his first since a season-opening win against Air Force on March 6—with a nine-run cushion in the ninth.
The sophomore was throwing hard, usually for strikes, and, despite surrendering a long leadoff home run to Columbia’s Ryan Schmidt, said he felt good.
“It felt good out there,” he said, “once I got that quick 500-foot home run out of the way.”
HARVARD 4, COLUMBIA 3
Pushed into the weekend-opening slot to face Columbia ace and 2003 First Team All-Ivy Brian Doveala, Harvard starter Jason Brown had quite a task in front of him in Friday’s first game.
But thanks to some early hot-hitting—including a pinch-hit, two-run single in the second by sophomore John Wolff—four runs of support was all the senior from Aqua Dulce, Calif., would need.
Brown (2-0) dueled his way to a 4-3 Harvard win, contributing 5 2/3 strong innings, allowing three runs on six hits. In fact, Brown faced the minimum and did not allow a hit until a one-out double by Columbia’s Steve Compton in the fifth inning broke up the no-hit bid.
“He had a no-no through five,” Walsh said. “And that’s a pretty darn good job. That’s like giving you seven in a nine-inning game, when you get five in [a seven-inning first game of a doubleheader].”
It was the second-consecutive strong league showing for Brown, who allowed one earned run in five innings of relief in a 7-3 loss to Cornell last weekend.
Senior Trey Hendricks had a double and a triple for the Crimson, and senior Marc Hordon and sophomore Chris Mackey chipped in RBI from the bottom of the order in the win. But Wolff—a lefty pinch-hitter for freshman Brendan Byrne in the second against the tough-on-righties Doveala—made the difference.
“You’ve kind of got to work those seven-inning games a little different,” Walsh said. “[Doveala] kind of slings it, keeps it down around the knees. I just made the move there, and with [sophomore Morgan Brown] coming in to the defense afterwards, it worked out good.”
—Staff writer Alex McPhillips can be reached at email@example.com.