After splitting each of its first three Ivy League doubleheaders, strong performances by both of its starting pitchers and a resurrected offense led the Harvard baseball team to an Easter Sunday sweep of Cornell.
Fighting frigid temperatures and swirling winds, the Crimson (9-11, 5-3 Ivy) defeated the Big Red (11-14, 5-3 Ivy) at O’Donnell Field in the second game of the twinbill, 11-4, after taking the first contest by a score of 4-2.
“It was a day of survival,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. “We had a lot of enthusiasm going beforehand and we just blocked the cold out.”
Harvard received offensive contributions from its entire lineup in the nightcap, along with seven solid innings from junior starter Brad Unger.
In the first game, freshman Eric Eadington struck out nine batters over 6 2/3 innings to get his first collegiate win.
“It’s definitely the coldest weather I’ve ever thrown in,” said Eadington, a California native. “It was great to get the win.”
HARVARD 11, CORNELL 4
The Crimson launched a relentless offensive assault in game two of the doubleheader, posting runs in all but two innings.
“We got our bats going,” Walsh said. “I thought we had a real balanced attack today.”
After the Big Red jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second, Harvard immediately responded, taking the lead for good on a two-out, two-run double ripped down the left field line by senior catcher Andrew Casey.
Junior Matt Vance continued the Harvard scoring binge in the fourth, plating two on a double of his own, this one a shot to the gap in left center.
“Vance has become such a tough out right now,” Walsh said. “He’s just driving fastballs.”
Junior Matt Kramer and sophomore Matt Rogers came through for the Crimson as well, driving in two runs each.
Unger pitched well for the third consecutive start, striking out seven and only giving up two runs. He was able to work himself out of several jams after giving up six hits and six walks in the game.
“He’s one of those guys who when things don’t go well...he doesn’t come out saying I’m going to blow it by people here,” Walsh said. “He’s got a lot of good composure on the mound.”
Sophomore Adam Cole came in on relief duty in the eighth and threw two scoreless innings to put the Cornell away.
According to Walsh, Cole’s outing may have also served as an audition for the closer’s role.
“When you have a quality arm like that coming off the bench that might get you a strikeout you feel pretty good about it,” Walsh said.
HARVARD 4, CORNELL 2
Eadington was just one out away from his first collegiate complete game when Walsh walked out to the mound and made the call for senior Jake Bruton out of the bullpen.
“I wanted to get the matchup of the right-hander against the right-hander,” Walsh said. “I kind of made up my mind before the inning. I wanted Bruton to face [Big Red cleanup hitter Nathan Ford.]”
“I wasn’t expecting [to be taken out], but I wasn’t surprised,” Eadington said. “[Walsh] just wants to make sure we get through it. Turns out it was the right move.”
It took Bruton only one pitch to retire Ford on a groundout, sealing a 4-2 win for Eadington and the Crimson in the first game of the doubleheader.
Eadington (1-0) worked his way out of a few jams in the early going—including a one-out, bases-loaded threat in the third— to maintain a shutout through five innings.
“I thought he really gutted it out today,” Walsh said. “He was throwing strikes and challenging the hitters.”
The freshman looked poised to go the distance entering the seventh, with Ford’s sixth-inning solo shot the only blemish on his line. But he quickly worked his way into trouble, walking Domenic DiRicco and allowing a single to Jimmy Heinz with no outs. Eadington then picked DiRicco off second base and got Brian Kaufman to pop up before giving way to Bruton.
The Crimson gave Eadington some run support in the third inning when junior Steffan Wilson blooped a double to center to score Vance, who had grounded a double just inside the third base bag to lead off the frame.
Junior right fielder Tom Stack-Babich followed with a solid single to center to plate Wilson.
“[Stack-Babich] is a real good five-hole hitter,” Walsh said. “He’s been getting some clutch hits for us.”
Harvard used small ball to pick up some insurance for its starter. In the sixth, captain Brendan Byrne moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt after getting hit by a pitch.
Rogers singled and stole second, and, while Casey struck out, Byrne came home on a wild pitch from the Big Red’s Matt Hill.
The Crimson scored its fourth run when the Cornell center fielder lost Kramer’s pop fly in the sun and Rogers trotted home.
—Staff writer Loren Amor can be reached at email@example.com.
—Staff writer Emily W. Cunningham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.