Last night at the Beanpot championship, the surroundings were a bit different—Fenway Park’s Green Monster cast a shadow that dwarfed Harvard left fielder Chris Mackey—and crosstown bragging rights were at least officially on the line.
But the story remained the same. Once again Ratliff, a Harvard, Ill. native, dominated the Crimson, completing a three-hitter and striking out nine. Once again Harvard, despite entering the day as the defending Beanpot champion, couldn’t beat Boston College.
“We obviously wanted to play BC again,” Mackey said. “We felt like we owed ‘em one. And unfortunately we didn’t get the job done.”
The Crimson seniors will finish the regular season next week with more Ivy League titles—one, and possibly two—than wins against the Eagles—zero in seven chances—in their college careers. For Harvard head coach Joe Walsh, it was the latest chapter in an alarming state of affairs for the crosstown rivalry.
“To me, personally, it’s a big game for me every year,” he said. “I feel, each year that it creeps away—that we’ve lost to them six or seven years in a row—that it becomes a difference in the school.
“And I don’t want to have that gap, you know? I want the win. It’s a big game for me, and it means a lot more than a lot of other teams on our schedule. It’s a mark for us because New England’s so important to us.”
Indicating the stakes of the situation, Walsh went with Ivy League Pitcher of the Week Shawn Haviland on the mound. Haviland, who had thrived in previous midweek appearances in relief, relinquished a 2-0 Crimson lead in the second by allowing four runs. Walsh lifted Haviland in the third for No. 2 starter Adam Cole, which had been planned ahead of time.
“I felt bad,” Haviland said. “They staked me out to two runs and I’ve got to hold them at zero for two innings.”
Ratliff took care of the rest. The BC junior yielded two runs in the first when Harvard senior Lance Salsgiver pounded a hanging slider off the Green Monster in left.
After that, Ratliff breezed through the Crimson lineup, which again missed RBI leader Josh Klimkiewicz due to an elbow injury. Ratliff retired four of the next six batters he faced on strikeouts and allowed only two hits and one walk for the rest of the game.
With exceptional control, he kept the Harvard hitters behind in the count by throwing fastballs for strikes and finishing them with an array of deceptive breaking pitches.
“I looked like an idiot swinging at his slider,” captain Morgan Brown said. “He’s got a very, very good one...He’s got a fastball that’s probably better than a lot of the guys’ we’ve faced. But the real thing that sets him apart is the slider—which is what he did last weekend too.”
Mackey, who had one of the Crimson’s three hits—Salsgiver and sophomore Taylor Meehan were the others—noted that every time he took a plate appearance, he seemingly found himself behind in the count.
“It’s a tough spot to hit in,” he said, “you know? I don’t care how good your stuff is.”
In the end, Harvard took a bittersweet comfort in that it lost not because of chaotic defensive play, as was partly the case two weeks ago, but because it was simply “overmatched, plain and simple,” as Walsh said.
“There’s not a whole lot of regrets, you know?” Brown said. “Pitchers beat us. Hitters beat us. We didn’t beat ourselves.”
—Staff writer Alex McPhillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org