On an unseasonably warm weekend in Cambridge, the Crimson (17-10, 10-2 Ivy) fended off Yale’s host of power pitchers, beating the Bulldogs (16-13, 6-6) in three of four games and setting up a weekend showdown with second-place Brown.
The Bears’ four-game sweep of defending division champion Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., gave the Crimson extra leverage in the Red Rolfe Division race. By sweeping aside Brown—which sits a game back of first place—next weekend, Harvard would clinch at least a tie for its first division crown since 2003.
The going has been remarkably smooth for a team that sorely missed its trademark power hitting in the early season. Stepping up against Yale, nonetheless, was Harvard captain Schuyler Mann, who broke out of a 2-for-12 skid by driving home 7 RBI during the weekend. His final two at-bats in Game 2 almost single-handedly won the game.
“Some of the hitters are coming out of [slumps] a little bit,” Harvard head coach Joe Walsh said, “and some of the other guys are picking other guys up.”
Also starring for the Crimson was an increasingly dominant front two in the pitching rotation. Junior Frank Herrmann followed up a complete-game one-hitter against Cornell on April 9 with a two-hit shutout on Saturday, and now has allowed just three hits and one run in his last 14 innings. Senior Mike Morgalis pitched eight strong innings on Saturday to keep Harvard in a game it eventually won.
The prelude to Harvard’s Brown road trip this weekend is the midweek Baseball Beanpot tournament, where the team will challenge its cross-town rivals. The Crimson plays UMass on Wednesday in Lowell, Mass. for a spot in the Thursday finale at Fenway Park.
HARVARD 12, YALE 5
It isn’t every day that you see umpires giving pitchers run support.
But in the sixth inning of the Crimson’s second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Yale, umpiring was a crucial factor in the five-run half-inning that put Harvard ahead for good.
With two runners on, one man out, and the Crimson leading 6-5, Harvard head coach Joe Walsh called for freshman Matt Vance to bunt junior Morgan Brown home from third base. But Vance whiffed at an outside offering from Bulldog hurler Jon Hollis.
“We put on the squeeze, and they knew it was coming, so they pitched out,” Vance said. “I threw my bat out there, and the catcher came out of his crouch early and hit my bat.”
After the home plate umpire initially declared the failed suicide squeeze attempt to be a foul ball, Walsh jogged out of the dugout to argue the call. The two umpires then conversed for several minutes before overturning the initial ruling and sending Vance to first base on catcher’s interference by Yale backstop Eric Rasmussen.
The real twist, however, came when the umpires also rewarded Brown with a trip to the plate from third—technically, a violation of the rules.
A two-run double by senior Ian Wallace capped the inning’s scoring, giving the Crimson a 9-5 lead that it would not relinquish, thanks greatly to the efforts of junior Lance Salsgiver.
In addition to pitching three stellar innings of relief—allowing no hits, no runs, and only one walk while posting seven strikeouts for his first save of the season—Salsgiver made an astounding catch in right field on a blast from C.J. Orrico in the fourth inning.