Though the Crimson (21-13, 7-5 Ivy) offense was firing on all cylinders, it wasn’t enough to hold off a late-inning rally from Boston College (15-24, 1-8 ACC). Eagles sophomore Allison Kooistra led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a shot over the center-field fence, giving her team the 7-6 walkoff win at Shea Field in Chestnut Hill.
“We’re excited we found our offense today—we hadn’t scored six runs in a long time,” co-captain Bailey Vertovez said. “We had that game. One runaway inning for our defense…[we] need to help our pitcher on the mound and we would have won that game.”
In the early going, it was all Harvard. Although freshman pitcher Marika Zumbro got herself into an early jam—issuing a leadoff walk that was followed by a single—co-captain and catcher Hayley Bock picked off BC’s lead runner to get the game’s first out, allowing Zumbro to settle down. The rookie starter responded by striking out the next two hitters.
The Crimson gave Zumbro some breathing room in the top of the second, putting three runs on the board. Freshman Whitney Shaw drew a leadoff walk, and after junior Jessica Pledger reached safely on a fielder’s choice, classmate Melissa Schellberg, who is also a Crimson sports editor, dropped a single into left center.
Bock came up with two outs and drilled a double to left field, plating rookie pinch runner Eve Rosenbaum. Vertovez followed her co-captain with another double, driving in Schellberg and Bock.
“We came out swinging our bats, and we hit the ball pretty hard,” Shaw said. “We’ve been putting a lot of work towards [our offense] so we all knew that was going to come eventually…I think [last week] was a low point, and we’re on the upswing now.”
Harvard added to its lead in the following frame. With junior Stephanie Krysiak, who is also a Crimson sports editor, aboard, sophomore Ellen Macadam hit a dinger to left to give the Crimson a 5-0 advantage.
“We know we can count on her to get a hit when we need it,” Vertovez said. “[Macadam] was actually going to bunt that at-bat, but 0-2 she comes in and hits a home run—much better than a bunt.”
But the Eagles came roaring back in the bottom of the fourth, taking advantage of a number of Harvard errors. After junior Margaux Black, who came on in relief to pitch out of a jam in the third, loaded the bases, consecutive misplays from Vertovez at shortstop let two runs cross the plate.
“We got into a little bit of trouble, and our defense should have been there to pick up our pitchers,” Vertovez said. “The defense makes the plays and we get out of that inning no problem.”
BC would get one more run on a suicide squeeze and the Crimson would commit another error before Black could escape from the inning.
While Eagles pitcher Allison Gage was finally able to quell the Harvard offense, allowing just one hit in five innings of relief, the BC bats claimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth.
After getting one run across on an Amy Tunstall single, the Eagles celebrated their first lead of the day, 6-5, when junior Blair Destito belted a two-run shot to center.
The Crimson came back to even the score in the top of the seventh, this time taking advantage of a few BC miscues. Vertovez drew a leadoff walk and came around on a pair of Eagles errors.
But the comeback was for naught, as Kooistra ended the game in the bottom of the inning with her longball.
“It’s never fun to lose on a walkoff home run and have to walk off their field,” Vertovez said. “We wanted to get back in there and score some more runs. We just have to capitalize earlier and we won’t run that risk.”
Black, who took home Ivy Pitcher of the Week honors for her 13.2 innings of scoreless ball last week, was saddled with her first loss of the season after allowing seven runs, four earned, in 3.1 innings of work.
Harvard will look to get back on the winning track tomorrow when it opens a crucial four-game series with Ivy League North rival Brown in Providence, R.I.
“We want to take four games from them,” Vertovez said. “Our offense is on the upswing right now, and we know our pitching will be there when we need it.”
—Staff writer Kate Leist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.