Since the beginning of the season, the Harvard baseball team’s offense has been described as potent, super-charged and explosive.
But for three games this weekend, that same offense could best be described as comatose. The powerful lineup that had threatened to ravage the Yale (13-15, 8-4 Ivy) starters appeared to be in hibernation, mustering only four runs through the first three games.
Fortunately, on Sunday afternoon, naptime ended.
The Crimson (14-13-1, 8-4 Ivy) finally roared into life with an 11-run outburst in the final game to end a disconcerting weekend on an optimistic note.
“It was definitely overall a disappointing weekend,” said sophomore Lance Salsgiver. “We hit the ball pretty well all weekend, but we just hit some long fly balls and the wind was blowing in. On Sunday, we started to hit some more low line drives and got things turned around.”
Nevertheless, the 1-3 weekend drops Harvard to a second-place tie with the Bulldogs in the Red Rolfe division of the Ivy League, with two weekends of crucial division play remaining. Dartmouth, which took three games from Brown this weekend, is in first with a record of 9-3.
HARVARD 11, YALE 5
After three games of offensive lethargy, enough was clearly enough.
The Crimson bats erupted in the fourth and final game of the weekend, putting Yale away behind the strength of two four-run innings.
Harvard benefited from impressive performances at both the plate and on the mound by both Salsgiver and co-captain Trey Hendricks.
Hendricks (5-1), who was a late scratch from Saturday’s games due to back spasms, won his fifth straight decision with a solid six-inning outing. He also walked twice, scored two runs and stole a base, one of seven for the Crimson on the game.
Salsgiver went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base. He shutout the Bulldogs over the final three innings in relief of Hendricks, notching six strikeouts and giving up only two hits.
“[Salsgiver] was pretty impressive for not really having kept up with his pitching in the bullpen,” said junior catcher Schuyler Mann. “He was throwing fastballs for strikes and keeping his breaking stuff nasty.”
“I felt better every inning I was out there,” Salsgiver said. “I felt more comfortable every inning, and I started to hit my spots.”
Harvard jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first inning, scoring all runs with two outs. A walk and two hit batters loaded the bases for senior Marc Hordon, who sent a 3-2 pitch into left field for a two-RBI single. The Crimson manufactured a run on a delayed steal, and junior Rob Wheeler had an RBI single into left field to close out the scoring.
The lead was short-lived, as Yale tied it up in the bottom of the first with four runs on four hits and a walk. After that, however, Hendricks steadied himself and did not allow a run until the sixth inning.
The Crimson’s offensive fireworks were fully unleashed in its second four-run inning, capped by Hordon’s bases-loaded, three-run triple. Sophomore Josh Klimkiewicz had broken up the 4-4 tie with fifth-inning homer, but the Bulldogs re-tied the game at 5-5 in the sixth.
But Hordon’s triple gave Harvard an 8-5 lead that it would not relinquish, as the Crimson tacked on three more runs and Salsgiver silenced Yale’s hitters for the remainder of the game.
“It was nice to finally get something going [offensively],” Mann said. “We were able to get into their bullpen in the last game, and they didn’t really have anything waiting for us there. It was their starting pitching that really did well against us and gave us problems all weekend.”
YALE 5, HARVARD 1
While Harvard hoped to regain its offensive edge in Sunday’s first game, Yale pitcher Josh Sowers was simply looking to even some old scores.
“Harvard has had their way with us since I’ve been here so I would love to get some revenge,” Sowers was quoted as saying in the Yale Daily News last Friday.
Sowers got his revenge, shutting down Harvard’s bats in a seven-inning complete game gem.
Harvard’s only run came in the third inning on a series of sacrifices. Singles by junior Ian Wallace and sophomore Chris Mackey opened the inning, and Salsgiver moved them along with a sacrifice bunt. Sophomore Zak Farkes flied out to center, scoring Wallace and moving Mackey to third, and then Hendricks was intentionally walked. But Klimkiewicz grounded into a fielder’s choice at second to end the threat with the Crimson still down 2-1.
“None of [the Yale starters] really had overpowering stuff,” Salsgiver said. “The umpire was calling pitches about six inches outside, and the catchers were setting up outside and they were going there. They weren’t really overpowering but they spotted the ball well and mixed up their pitches well. And they are all smart pitchers.”
Pitcher Frank Herrmann (3-2) did not escape the third inning, yielding three runs on six hits. The Bulldogs scored a run in each of the first four innings. Relievers Matt Brunnig and Jake Bruton each surrendered a run to the Bulldogs, who had 11 hits on the game.
YALE 7, HARVARD 2
After the sluggish first game Saturday, the Crimson tried to kick things into gear. A strong start from senior Mike Morgalis (2-3) offered a bit of momentum, as the right-hander breezed through the first two innings, retiring the first six men he faced. Meanwhile, Harvard seemed close to breaking through to Yale starter Jon Hollis, as Farkes and Kilmkiewicz connected for strong singles in each of the first two innings.
But in the third inning, Morgalis—coming off two strong outings the past two weekends—hit a speed bump. The Bulldogs put the first two runners on base on soft singles, and moved them into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Morgalis induced catcher Eric Rasmussen to pop up, but hit the next batter to load the bases.
Morgalis worked Marc Sawyer to a 1-2 count before Sawyer roped an RBI single into left field, giving the Bulldogs the lead.
The next batter, Mike Stone, cleared the bases with a 0-2 double over the head of the left fielder Mackey and Yale came out of the inning with a 4-0 advantage.
Morgalis recovered from the rough inning to stay in the game till the sixth, when two consecutive hard hits combined with one of four outfield errors on the day took him out. Morgalis finished with six runs on nine hits in six-plus innings.
Meanwhile, the Crimson’s offense simply stagnated. What few runners reached were mostly thanks to walks, and even with the sacks full Harvard was unable to bring runners home.
The only offense the Crimson could scrounge up came in the top of the eight inning, when three straight base-on-balls loaded the bases. A sacrifice fly to deep centerfield by Mann and an infield hit by Salsgiver provided Harvard with its only two runs of the game. After a hit-batsman loaded the bases—and with Hendricks in the on-deck circle ready to pinch hit—Hordon popped out to end the threat.
YALE 4, HARVARD 1
The Crimson had made only seven errors in its first eight Ivy League games.
It equaled that total Saturday, including four in the first game alone.
Those four bloopers were provided all the runs Yale needed as the Bulldogs scored all their runs in the first three innings, chasing starter Brunnig (1-4) with two outs into the third.
Brunnig was shaky, giving up seven hits and four runs—though only two earned—and never seemed to find his groove.
Yale took the lead on a fielder’s choice with runners at first and third in the bottom of the first inning, but Harvard promptly responded in the top of the second. After Mackey singled and Hordon launched a two-out ground rule double into right field, a wild pitch from Bulldog starter Alec Smith sent Mackey home and tied up the game at 1-1.
After that, however, Smith settled down, finishing with the seven-inning complete game win and allowing only four Harvard hits. No Crimson player had a hit after Farkes’s third-inning single.
—Staff writer Lisa J. Kennelly can be reached at email@example.com.