Behind a 14-hit barrage, the Crimson (18-10, 10-2 Ivy) pulled away from UMass 11-5 in the first round of the Beanpot Classic at LeLacheur Field yesterday.
Harvard will now face Northeastern (13-15) at 5 p.m. this afternoon in the championship at Fenway Park.
“I thought the whole team had some real good swings on the curveball,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. “That’s been our nemesis all year, when a guy comes in with a breaking ball and beats us.”
Harvard entered the bottom of the seventh clinging to a 6-5 lead, but quickly put the game out of reach.
After Minutemen reliever John Toffey walked Steffan Wilson and Schuyler Mann—the only two batters he faced—to open the frame, Chris Mackey dropped down a sacrifice bunt to put runners on the corners.
Back to back singles by Morgan Brown and Brendan Byrne, followed by a bases-clearing triple by Matt Vance, put Harvard up 10-5. Ian Wallace singled in Vance to tack on the final run.
It was the the final hit of a 4-for-4 day for Byrne.
“The kid that’s in the nine hole for us is doing a great job,” Walsh said. “He turned a couple double plays, made a nice play on a popup that dropped. He was great.”
A little bit of luck—and poor UMass baserunning—saved Byrne from having to make the play of the day.
With the bases loaded and a run already across in the top of the seventh, Walsh brought in Wilson—the team’s top closer—to preserve the Crimson’s 6-5 lead.
Brian Garrity drilled a sharp grounder towards the hole between first and second, but before the ball could reach the outstretched glove of a diving Byrne, it hit the foot of UMass’s Bryan Adamski.
Garrity was awarded a single and Adamski called out for runner’s interference.
“I was going to have to make a tough play, but I thought I was going to get there,” Byrne said. “I’m not sure if I would have gotten up and made the play, but I think I would have knocked it down.”
Every time the Minutemen (5-22) started to pick up momentum, Harvard seized it back.
After an RBI single by Jason Twomley pulled UMass to within a run, 5-4, in the top of the fifth, Mann got the run back singlehandedly in the bottom of the frame.