AOTW: Baseball's Junior Just Misses Perfection

One by one on Saturday afternoon, the late arrivals trickled in to O’Donnell Field, clad in pastel spring polos and flip flops, ready to enjoy the first weekend of Ivy baseball. But there was just one problem.

“Wait a minute,” they’d ask, looking at the scoreboard and counting innings and minutes in their heads. “It’s already the second game?”

The man to blame? Frank Herrmann, who made quick work of Cornell in a complete-game one-hitter in Game 1.

The junior right hander needed only 80 minutes—and even fewer pitches—to clinch a 3-1 victory, push his team to 5-0 in league play, and lower his ERA to 1.93, tops among Harvard starters.

And oh yeah, he was only six outs away from a perfect game.

Herrmann struck out five of the first nine hitters he faced and cruised through the first four innings.

Then the Big Red finally got a moral victory—first baseman Conor Kelly flied out weakly to left to become the first Cornell hitter to get the ball past the infield clay.

“[Catcher] Schuyler [Mann] said his fastball was really moving,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. “I think he got a lot of his strikeouts on the fastball.”

Herrmann’s only lapse came in the top of the sixth, when he walked Ry Kagan on four straight pitches to open the frame and end his bid for a perfect game.

After Kagan advanced to second on a groundout, he scored on a cheap bloop single over first base by Seth Gordon.

The final line—7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K—was just the latest in what has been a stellar season for Herrmann.

In four starts, he has allowed only three extra-base hits and has given up one earned run or fewer three times—all Crimson wins.

But perhaps the most impressive part of Herrmann’s performance was that despite not having thrown in 10 days, he showed no rust.

Suffering from tendonitis in his throwing elbow, Herrmann sat out the opening slate of Ivy games last Monday and Tuesday, a move which he said was mostly precautionary.

But on Saturday, he “felt really good.” And he looked it.

“It was good to be back out there,” Herrmann said. “It had been a while.”

Luckily, Yale’s in town for four this weekend, so the Harvard faithful may not have to wait long for Herrmann’s next gem.

That is, if they get there in time to see it.

—LANDE A. SPOTTSWOOD

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