With the sun shining and the division crown a mere two wins away, the Harvard baseball team entered its final weekend against Dartmouth hoping to win the Red Rolfe title outright at O’Donnell Field.
The energetic crowd on hand, however, was treated to nearly six hours of baseball and a split.
First, sophomore ace Shawn Haviland locked down the Big Green in a complete game, 10-inning masterpiece as the Crimson took the opener 2-1. Then, in the encore, a 13-8 slugfest was never in doubt as the Big Green managed to breathe meaning into tomorrow’s doubleheader in Hanover, N.H.
DARTMOUTH 13, HARVARD 8
In his last start, Dartmouth pitcher Josh Faiola had thrown 145 pitches and given up just one earned run in 12 innings, ending up with a tough, 2-1 complete game loss to Yale.
Against the Crimson on Saturday, he managed to outdo himself in two ways.
Faiola (6-0) survived eight punishing innings for a win, throwing an arduous 147 pitches on a day when Harvard’s answer—freshman starter Adam Cole (2-3)—was lifted before recording a third out. But Faiola—the Ivy League’s putative Pitcher of the Year—gave up eight runs, six earned, as the Crimson battered him for 14 hits and two walks.
“Scoring eight off of Faiola, that’s their guy,” head coach Joe Walsh said. “I feel real good coming into tomorrow. I feel confident we’re swinging pretty good. And if I’m their three or four guy, and I saw us pepper Faiola around…they might be thinking a little bit.”
Harvard, however, lagged behind from the beginning.
The Big Green pushed across four unearned runs on two hits against an uncharacteristically wild Cole, who walked four before being relieved by Jason Brown in the top of the first. The junior submariner then struck out his first batter swinging on the way to 5 2/3 gutsy, bullpen-saving innings.
Brown, notably, would give up eight runs, but only three of them earned.
“When you get down 8-0, you’re trying to save guys you might need tomorrow,” Walsh said. “J.B. did a great job.”
Sophomore Max Warren finished the game, fanning two and allowing one earned in 2 2/3.
The Crimson actually out-hit Dartmouth 14-8, but also committed four errors to the Big Green’s two. Harvard scored all eight of its runs in the fifth through eighth innings, but was never able to truly threaten against the beleaguered Faiola, leaving nine runners on base.
Sophomore centerfielder Matt Vance was able to break out of a brief slump by going 2-3 with a triple and two runs scored, in addition to notching a league-leading 24th stolen base. Classmate and second baseman Taylor Meehan had a career effort at the plate, going 4-5, while third baseman Steffan Wilson drove in three, upping his team-leading RBI total to 39.
As visions of a comeback lingered, Faiola was finally lifted in the ninth for Big Green reliver Chris Lapointe. The Dartmouth senior has now thrown 292 pitches over his last two starts—“something I would not wish on any man,” Haviland joked after the game.
But if the Big Green can’t sweep Harvard tomorrow, those pitches will also be his last.
The doubleheader begins at 1:00 p.m. in Hanover, N.H.
HARVARD 2, DARTMOUTH 1
It took awhile for the Crimson to push across the winning run—three innings more than expected, in fact.
Luckily, Shawn Haviland was willing to wait.
The sophomore solidified his status as one of the Ivy League’s elite on Saturday by throwing perhaps the best game of his career, a complete game opus which came to an end in the 10th when Morgan Brown lashed the game-winning single to left with the bases loaded.
Haviland, the Harvard ace, tossed all ten frames in what is supposed to be a seven-inning contest, allowing one earned run over 149 pitches. With a crisp fastball pounding down-and-in and his usual knee-buckling curve, he struck out six while allowing just six hits and three walks.
For good measure, he also managed to pick off two runners in the fourth inning alone, thwarting a potential Big Green rally.
“It was outstanding, especially when you keep going out there and it’s 1-0, 1-0, 1-0,” Walsh said. “I kept starting to think he’s going to get a little tired here, who am I going to use, but he was locating exceptionally well.”
The Dartmouth lefthander Russell Young actually matched Haviland’s effort frame for frame, allowing just one run, unearned, in nine, fanning four.
“It’s the same old thing when we face that lefthander,” Walsh said. “Lefties against an all-right-handed lineup, and we weren’t getting good rips on him. It’s disappointing.”
The Big Green had jumped out to a 1-0 lead early as Damon Wright looped an 0-2 curveball into left, scoring Johnathon Santopadre.
The Crimson did not cross the plate until the fifth, when pinch-runner Max Warren alertly scored all the way from second on a throwing error by Dartmouth third baseman Tommy Myette.
“It was a great baseball instinct play,” Walsh said. “Without that, it’s not 1-1.”
In the ninth inning, Josh Klimkiewicz—who had been unceremoniously thrown out at first after hitting a hard, would-be single to the right fielder—made a game-saving catch, diving to his left to catch an Andrew Nacario liner with two outs and the bases loaded.
From there, Young gave way to Big Green closer Kyle Zeis, who gave up a double to Lance Salsgiver, a hard single to Vance, and then a single to Steffan Wilson in the bottom of the tenth. Zeis managed to fan Klimkiewicz before facing Brown, who finally brought the marathon to an end. The captain lined the 0-2 offering to center to bring Harvard one game closer to the division title and an Ivy Championship Series with Lou Gehrig winner Princeton.
--Staff writer Pablo S. Torre can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.