Harvard Splits, Stays One Ahead

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—For just a few minutes—with the Harvard baseball team nine outs away from a three-game division lead—it looked like this year might be different.

But after Brown rallied from a 7-3 deficit to secure a series split at Aldrich Field yesterday, it was clear this season would follow the same script as any other.

It’s as certain as death and taxes.

The division title always comes down to the final series against Dartmouth.

With a 10-3 win in Game 3 followed by a 10-8 loss in Game 4, Harvard (21-12, 12-4 Ivy) maintained its one-game lead over Brown (19-17, 11-5) heading into its four-game showdown with the Big Green this weekend.

“I have no thoughts on next weekend until I get rid of these thoughts,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said, shaking his head in frustration minutes after watching the Bears capitalize on good fortune—and bad umpiring—to rally for seven straight runs and the Game 4 win. “We fought our butts off all weekend.”

BROWN 10, HARVARD 8

Though a series split with Brown guaranteed the Crimson control of its own destiny this weekend, Harvard had little control over its fate yesterday.

With the Bears trailing 7-3 in the bottom of the seventh and Danny Hughes safely on second with a double, Jeff Nichols lofted a popup that fell between left fielder Ian Wallace and shortstop Morgan Brown for a base hit. A double by Jimmy Lowe scored Hughes and chased Crimson starter Javi Castellanos from the game.

That’s when things started to get sticky.

Sophomore Jason Brown relieved Castellanos, and the first batter he faced, Chris Contrino, lifted a fly ball that fell a few feet foul in front of right fielder Lance Salsgiver—one that the umpire called a fair ball.

“I knew it was going to be close, but when I saw it bounce I almost stopped running.” Salsgiver said. “The guys in the bullpen were jogging to get the ball. We all saw the umpire point, and it was a definite moment of, ‘What the heck’s going on?’ It was definitely the wrong call.”

By the time Salsgiver fielded the ball and threw it in, Contrino was safely on second with a double and two runs had scored, cutting the lead to 7-6. The Bears tied the game on a throwing error by Steffan Wilson and then took an 8-7 lead on an RBI single by Matt Kutler.

With still only one out and Kutler on first, the Crimson badly needed a double play ball and seemed to get it.

Devin Thomas grounded an offering from reliever Curtis Miller straight at second baseman Brendan Byrne, but before it could get to him, it ricocheted off the field umpire, leading to a dead ball. Thomas was awarded first base.

Walsh then brought in Wilson, who walked Paul Christian to load the bases and set up another controversial play.

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