Coming off Sunday’s 17-inning victory against Princeton, Harvard (7-18, 5-3 Ivy) begins its quest for its third Beanpot Championship today against Northeastern (14-10, 5-4 CAA). The contest, slated to begin at 3 p.m., will be played at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, Mass. and will determine which of the teams play for the championship on Monday—against either Boston College or Massachusetts—at Fenway Park.
If recent history between the two teams is any indication, this year’s game will be a close one. The opening-round game between the Huskies and the Crimson is a rematch from last year’s Beanpot consolation game, which Northeastern won, 7-6, in 10 innings.
Last year, in the teams’ second meeting of the season, Harvard was on the other side of the 7-6 score. In that game—the Crimson’s last of the regular season—then-junior Matt Rogers propelled Harvard to victory with an eighth-inning home run. The win for the Crimson was its third consecutive one-run game against the Huskies.
“Northeastern is always a tough team, and they always fight hard against us,” captain Harry Douglas said. “Year in and year out, they are a good team. We’re ready to face them.”
Today’s contest marks the fourth time in the last five years that Harvard and Northeastern will face off in the annual tournament, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Harvard’s last championship came in 2005 at the expense of the Huskies, and in 2006, the Crimson beat Northeastern, 8-5, in opening-round play.
Harvard hopes to keep its bats going tomorrow after a 60-hit weekend, six of which left the yard against Cornell and Princeton.
“[We] will take a good approach at the plate, look to drive the ball, look for good pitches to hit, and take advantage of hitters’ counts,” Douglas said.
In last year’s Beanpot game against the Huskies, Rogers, Douglas, then-junior Taylor Meehan, and then-freshmen Sean O’Hara and Dillon O’Neill all had multi-hit games.
The big concern for Harvard, however, is the availability of its pitchers.
“Coming off a four-game weekend, including one that went 17 innings, it puts an awful lot of pressure on our pitching staff,” Crimson coach Joe Walsh said.
“We’re going to rely on people we don’t usually rely on,” Douglas added. “I think we’ll use a lot of our younger pitchers. It will be more of a staff effort.”
To further complicate matters, some of the Harvard players might be unable to make the afternoon trip because of conflicts with classes and midterms.
“We’re scrambling,” Walsh said. “They are true student-athletes.”
Walsh will start either sophomore Anthony Nutter or sophomore Zach Hofeld, neither of whom has seen significant action in the rotation this season.
“Hofeld has really found his fastball,” Walsh said, expressing confidence in the sophomore. “If he gets his curve going—that’s his out pitch.”
Of concern to the Crimson is also its game tomorrow against Bryant in Rhode Island.
“Two games midweek can really put a toll on our staff,” Walsh said. “But we’re going to have to muddle our way through.”
The Huskies, like Harvard, are no stranger to extra-inning games. A quarter of Northeastern’s games this season—including three of the past five—have advanced into extra frames.
At the plate, the Huskies are led by senior Mike Tamsin. The left-handed hitting third baseman leads the squad with a .375 batting average. Tamsin—who also leads the team in hits (36), RBI (18), total bases (53), slugging percentage (.552) and on-base percentage (.487)—became Northeastern’s all-time hits leader on March 28 in a game against Hofstra.
“[Tamsin] puts the ball in the seats,” Walsh said. “He is one of the best hitters in New England. We are going to pitch him very carefully—he’s the guy that scares me.”
With strong hitting and a tradition of close contests, the Beanpot opening round is sure to be a slugfest worthy of the tournament’s 20-year history.