Marathon Hits Boston Early

After 19 scoreless innings, Tigers break through, then Harvard tallies two

ON THE MARK
Lowell K. Chow

Co-captain Kara Brotemarkle pitched all 20 innings in the opener of Harvard's doubleheader against the Tigers on Saturday, surrendering just one run.

Forget two outs, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded. The Harvard softball team (14-12-1, 4-0 Ivy) topped even that vaunted drama with a 20th inning comeback victory over Princeton (16-13, 3-3 Ivy) at Soldiers Field on Saturday.

The sweep of the Tigers capped off a weekend that saw the Crimson open its season 4-0, sweeping both Penn and two-time defending Ivy champ Princeton.

HARVARD 2, PRINCETON 1

After 19 innings of scoreless softball, the Tigers attacked in the top of the 20th. Junior catcher Ty Ries smashed a single up the middle, but was then thrown out on a fielder’s choice during the following at-bat by junior Kristin Lueke. Lueke then stole second to put herself in scoring position.

A flustered co-captain Kara Brotemarkle walked senior Wendy Bingham to put a runner on first and second.

With just one out, freshman Stephanie Steel belted a hit to centerfield for an RBI double as Princeton took a 1-0 lead.

“I knew it wasn’t over,” Brotemarkle said. “If I had thought that, I would have given up more that just that one.”

Co-captain second baseman Sara Williamson helped hold the defense together to get the Crimson out of the inning. She caught junior Melissa inley’s popup and snagged a line drive from the bat of sophomore pitcher Erin Snyder to put an end to the threat.

After giving up a single, a double, a walk and a steal, the Crimson found itself down by just one run. But it had been held scoreless for 20 innings and had endured six straight innings’ worth of missed scoring opportunities.

As it turned out, a little roar from the Tigers was all the Crimson needed to find its own offense before a season-high attendance of over 200.

“When we met in the middle of the circle [in the top of the 20th] the consensus was ‘We were going to have to score anyway, so we might as well score this inning,’” Williamson said.

The comeback got off slowly, as freshman right fielder Julia Kidder led off with a popup.

With one out, junior left fielder Lauren Stefanchik reached base on an error by Tiger first baseman senior Kristin Del Calvo.

Stefanchik, who led the Ivy League in steals last season, safely stole second to get into scoring position.

Junior Cecily Gordon’s popup did not clear the infield, and Stefanchik was left on second with two outs.

But the Crimson, which has seen itself on the short side of one-run games too many times this season, was not to be denied.

Freshman third baseman Virginia Fritsch, who has been one of Harvard’s most lethal offensive weapons this season, stepped to the plate. In her eighth at-bat of the game, she bludgeoned a single to right field, scoring the speedy Stefanchik and tying up the score. But with two outs, it looked like even more extra innings could be in the works.

Designated player junior Lauren Bettinelli kept the Crimson alive with a single, advancing Fritsch to second.

Sophomore Erin Halpenny’s crack to left field was good for the winning RBI, as Fritsch rounded third and scored what was probably her sweetest run ever.

And after 20 innings, Harvard stormed away with the 2-1 thriller against the touted Tigers.

“It was truly one of the most amazing games I’ve been a part of,” Williamson said.

The Crimson had threatened in the bottom of the 19th inning when Bettinelli led off with a single. Halpenny’s sacrifice bunt and Williamson’s single advanced Bettinelli to third, but Snyder forced a grounder to first and a fly ball to right field to claw Tigers out of the danger zone.

Princeton managed 15 hits in the effort while Harvard knocked 10 into play. Brotemarkle, who stayed on the mound for all 20 innings, improved to 6-7, and she stranded 16 Tigers on base over the course of the game.

“I was tired, but I think even it got to the point that I had done it so many times, I might as well just do it one more,” Brotemarkle said. “In terms of heart, that’s the greatest game I’ve seen a team play.”

Coming off a deflating loss to Dartmouth on Friday, the Tigers could not afford to lose one game at Harvard, let alone two. Now the Crimson is in control of its own destiny as takes its undefeated record away from the first complete weekend of Ivy action.

HARVARD 3, PRINCETON 0

After already playing nearly three games’ worth of innings, Princeton and Harvard faced off again in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader.

The Crimson offense picked up right where it had left off, scoring the eventual winning run in the bottom of the first inning.

“We knew whoever won the first game was going to win the second,” Williamson said. “You were just so exhausted after the first.”

Finley, the defending Ivy Player of the Year, walked Kidder, who then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Stefanchik.

Gordon slammed a single to center field to advance Kidder to third. Fritsch then singled up the middle to score Kidder.

Finley tossed two strikeouts to get Princeton out of the inning, but Harvard had already staked a 1-0 lead.

Del Calvo manged one of the Tigers’ two hits of the game in the top of the second, but the Crimson defense, led by pitcher Bettinelli, left her stranded on first.

Taking advantage of mistakes by the dejected Princeton defense, the Harvard offense went back to work.

Williamson opened with a single to left field. The Tigers were unable to throw her out at second on a bunt from senior shortstop Rachel Goldberg. Then Kidder singled to load the bases with no outs.

Sophomore pinch hitter Pilar Adams popped up to Cobb-Adams. On Gordon’s follow-up hit, the Tigers went for the force at home, but an error by Ries at catcher allowed Williamson to score and all the runners to advance.

Fritsch belted a sacrifice fly to left field, and another Princeton error allowed her to reach first in addition to tacking on an RBI as Goldberg scored.

The Tigers finally converted on a force out, tagging Kidder out at home, off a single from Bettinelli, and sophomore third baseman Amanda Erickson snagged Halpenny’s line drive for the third out.

Princeton’s only other hit came in the top of the fifth inning with a single by Del Calvo, who stayed stranded at first.

Gordon went 2-4, Fritsch had a hit and two RBI, and Williamson batted 2-3 with a run scored. Bettinelli pitched her fourth complete game of the season, improving to 7-4.

HARVARD 9, PENN 6

The Crimson scored six runs in the first inning of the second game on Friday against Penn to continue its domination of the Quakers.

Stefanchik, Gordon, Bettinelli, Halpenny, Williamson and Dell’Aria all scored in that first frame, and Harvard went through its entire batting lineup in the half inning.

The Crimson tacked on another three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Adams led off with a single to right field, and Gordon reached base on a fielder’s choice.

Fritsch laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. Adams was tagged out at home on Bettinelli’s grounder to shortstop. Halpenny’s long double drove in both Gordon and Bettinelli, and Halpenny advanced to third on a Dell’Aria single to left field. Halpenny then scored on a wild pitch.

Penn finally put runs on the board in the top of the fifth inning to avoid a shortened game due to the mercy-rule. Freshman third baseman Julia Cheney belted a home run to left field with two runners on base to close the score to 9-3.

The Quakers knocked on the door again in the top of the sixth, adding one run off of four hits. Despite loading the bases in the same inning, Harvard was unable to bring home any runs.

Penn pulled its offense together one last time in the top of the seventh. After two more runs pulled the Quakers within three, Brotemarkle replaced freshman Becky Voaklander on the mound and got the Crimson out of the inning for a save.

HARVARD 2, PENN 0

On Friday, Harvard tackled Penn at Soldier’s Field in its opening doubleheader of Ivy play.

After coming out slow in its home opener against UMass earlier in the week, the Crimson threw the first punch in the bottom of the first.

Stefanchik bunted and then reached third after a wild throw from Cheney.

Gordon smashed a single to centerfield to drive in Stefanchik, helping Harvard to a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Crimson struck again. Bettinelli reached first on a walk from freshman pitcher Lindsey Permar, and Halpenny took advantage of an error by Penn second baseman Stephanie Reichert. Senior Monica Montijo pinch hit, knocking a single to shortstop.

With bases loaded, Dell’Aria—also pinch hitting—ripped a single to third base to drive in Bettinelli.

That was the end of the scoring as the Quakers stranded eight Harvard runners on base over six innings.

Brotemarkle fanned nine batters and held Penn to a mere two hits. She improved her ERA to 1.37 over the weekend.

“A lot of time you come out and don’t have to pitch 27 innings in one weekend,” Brotemarkle said. “But I needed to, and I was very happy to do it.”

Harvard wrapped up its weekend undefeated in Ivy play, sitting at the top of the standings.

“It felt great to come out 4-0,” Brotemarkle said. “So now we are looking forward to our next match-up to extend that.”

“It’s a very exciting place to be,” Wiliamson added.

The Crimson returns to Soldiers Field tomorrow at 3 p.m. to face off against Rhode Island.

—Staff writer Carrie H. Petri can be reached at cpetri@fas.harvard.edu.

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ANNIE GET YOUR GUN

ANNIE GET YOUR GUN

PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS

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