The Crimson (21-12, 7-5) took full advantage, sweeping its rival, 4-0 and 1-0, to gain some important momentum going into the Ivy League stretch run.
Led by standout freshman Rachel Brown’s one-hit complete game gem and the clutch play of junior third baseman Melissa Schellberg, Harvard took it to the Bulldogs in the first game, crushing the team, 4-0.
In the second contest, junior Margaux Black continued the Crimson’s dominating pitching onslaught, allowing just four hits in her first-ever complete game win.
The victories leave Harvard just two games back of Dartmouth in the Ivy standings, but now, momentum is on the Crimson’s side.
“We’re going to remember Sunday and [yesterday], both emotions, to propel us forward this season,” co-captain Hayley Bock said. “We will remember Sunday to fire us up, and [yesterday] to show us we can beat anyone.”
HARVARD 1, YALE 0
Harvard used great pitching and even better defense to secure a much-needed victory in the second game of its doubleheader, 1-0.
The obvious star of the game was Black, who notched a commanding complete-game win. After coming out of the bullpen for most of the season, Black appeared right at home in the starting rotation, as she paced the Crimson through seven innings.
But things would have been different had Harvard’s defense failed to back her up. The Crimson was airtight both in the air and on the ground, giving Black all the help she needed.
The highlight of this strong defensive performance came when it counted most in the top of the sixth inning. With the Crimson hanging on to a 1-0 lead, Bulldog junior Ashley Sloan reached on a leadoff single. Then Black lost control, rocketing a pitch over catcher Bock’s head. Sloan looked to get into scoring position easily, but Bock had other plans, as she scrambled to the ball and gunned it to second to throw out the streaking Sloan. It was just one example of Harvard’s great play in the field, keying its important victory.
“I turned around and it was in my mitt,” Bock said. “But we’ve been playing strong defense all year—it wasn’t just today.”
Harvard tallied its only run on an error committed by Yale’s second baseman, as she lost a pop-up in the sun that allowed Crimson sophomore Emily Henderson to score from third. Henderson had reached on a leadoff walk, stole second, and reached third on a sacrifice bunt from classmate Ellen Macadam.
HARVARD 4, YALE 0
Coming off her worst performance of the season Sunday against Yale, Brown needed an answer on Tuesday.
In her dominant one-hit outing, she got just that.
After surrendering a soft infield hit in the second inning, Brown never looked back, retiring the last 11 batters to silence the Bulldogs.
“[Brown] really bounced back [from her loss on Sunday] and focused on pitching her game,” Crimson coach Jenny Allard said. “I thought it was a great, resilient performance.”
But it looked like Harvard might squander Brown’s gem for much of the game. The team was held scoreless through four frames.
Schellberg, who is also a Crimson sports editor, changed all that in the fifth. After reaching on a bloop single into center field, the junior came running home after a shot from classmate Jennifer Francis flew over the Yale’s right fielder.
The relay throw came in hot, and looked to have Schellberg as she headed home. The junior, however, would not be denied, as she lept to the right and then lunged out with her left hand to touch the base, evading the tag and notching the Crimson’s first run in the most dramatic of ways.
“She made a perfect slide at home,” Allard said. “And coming up with a clutch hit later, she was fantastic.”
The next inning, it was more Schellberg, as she led Harvard’s offensive outburst with a bases-clearing double that tallied another two runs for the Crimson. Freshman Whitney Shaw started things off with a single, and junior Jessica Pledger, who is also a Crimson photographer, got on board with a single of her own. Schellberg’s double plated pinch runners Black and freshman Eve Rosenbaum.
Schellberg came home on a single off the bat of rookie pinch hitter Jane Alexander, giving the junior two RBI and two runs on the day.
That was all Harvard needed, as Brown pitched a perfect seventh to preserve the win.
—Staff writer Walter E. Howell can be reached at email@example.com.