Walkoff Jack Drops Harvard to 3-9 in Ivy League

COSMO KRAMER
Jessica S. Lin

Senior catcher Matt Kramer, shown here in earlier action, went 2-for-3 with a three-run shot in a 9-5 Harvard win in the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader. He added a 1-for-3 effort in Harvard’s 7-6 nightcap loss.

Before the final pitch of yesterday’s doubleheader at Yale, it seemed that, no matter what, the weekend’s results would feel like a victory for the struggling Harvard baseball team.

Yesterday, the Crimson (4-25, 3-9 Ivy) continued its breakout offensive weekend and received two solid outings from veteran starters Shawn Haviland and Brad Unger, but a heartbreaking walk-off loss in the weekend finale left it with a sour taste in its mouth—and a split that won’t help it gain ground in the Ivy League standings.

Hot Harvard bats paced the Crimson to a 9-5 win in the first of two games, but the nightcap made a hero of the Bulldog catcher P.J. Gorynski and goats of the Harvard bullpen: two innings after Unger departed with a four-run lead, Gorynski placed an Anthony Nutter offering over the left-field fence to hand Yale (15-18-1, 7-4-1) a 7-6 walk-off victory.

“Going into the day, we were pretty confident that we’d be able to go out and get two,” Haviland said.

“In the last inning of that second game we were playing a little tentatively and didn’t go for it,” captain Matt Vance added. “Hopefully we’ll learn from that.”

The Crimson will travel to Fenway Park tomorrow to take on Northeastern in the consolation game of the annual Beanpot Tournament. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

YALE 7, HARVARD 6

For the second consecutive Sunday, Unger saw a solid start go to waste.

Last weekend at O’Donnell Field, Unger allowed just two runs in a complete game effort. This time around, Unger again allowed two runs and departed with a four-run lead after 6.2 innings of work, but could only watch from the dugout as Nutter surrendered a two-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to send Yale to a dramatic 7-6 victory.

Nutter had bailed fellow freshman Zach Hofeld out of a two-out, two-on jam in the bottom of the eighth inning after Hofeld had allowed a sac fly and a Jake Doyle RBI single to cut the lead to two. But Nutter soon found himself in hot water in the next inning, allowing an RBI single to Josh Cox (3-for-5) before Gorynski’s walk-off blast.

“There’s definitely a lack of experience there, but they both showed they can be capable relief pitchers,” Vance said of the two freshmen. “We had no problem bringing either of them in. Hopefully next time we have that lead, we’ll hold it.”

“I can’t say that they really threw any bad pitches,” Haviland added. “Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the hitter.”

The Crimson jumped out to an early lead with single runs in the first and second innings—this time off Yale starter Alex Christ. As Unger cruised through his outing—he retired the side in order in four of his six full innings, allowing just two runs on an RBI single and a groundout in the fourth—the team’s third straight win appeared well within reach.

Harvard appeared to have the game wrapped up after adding three runs in the fifth on an RBI double by freshman Tyler Albright (2-for-4) and a two-run single from classmate Sean O’Hara (3-for-4, two RBI).

HARVARD 9, YALE 5

The Crimson used a five-run third inning to take a big lead over the Bulldogs and coasted to a 9-5 victory in a slugfest in the opener of yesterday’s doubleheader.

“Our offense really clicked today, and hopefully we can carry that into the following two weekends,” Vance said.

In his long-awaited first win of 2008, Haviland pitched well enough to win on a day when Harvard hitters picked up right where they had left off from Saturday’s 22-hit barrage. While the Crimson’s No. 1 starter didn’t have his best stuff, allowing seven runs (five earned), two home runs, and four walks, his ability to throw all seven innings of the complete game was key.

The top of the lineup paced the Crimson to a big lead in the third, when eight straight batters reached on a walk or single with one out and Tyler Albright and sophomore designated hitter Chris Rouches hit two-run singles.

Kramer’s three-run blast—his second home run in as many days against the Bulldogs—allowed Harvard to pad its lead in the fourth. Harvard coach Joe Walsh had placed Kramer in the cleanup spot in his lineup, hoping to capitalize on the senior’s recent hot streak at the plate with senior slugger Tom Stack-Babich out of the lineup due to injury.

“We’ve been needing a guy to step up and get some RBIs for us in that four-hole, and Kramer did that today,” Vance said.

—Staff writer Emily W. Cunningham can be reached at ecunning@fas.harvard.edu.

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