Marathon nightcap ends on Stack-Babich single

The Harvard baseball team (7-18, 5-3 Ivy) split two games against the Princeton Tigers (9-13, 2-6) on Sunday, losing the first game 3-1 and winning the second game 13-12 in 17 innings.

Senior right fielder Tom Stack-Babich provided clutch hitting for Harvard in the second game, hitting a game-tying home run in the thirteenth inning, as well as the game-winning single.

“Anytime we can beat Princeton—more importantly in a late inning game—it’s just something to build upon,” Walsh said, after the 513-pitch affair. “I don’t think there will be a game this year—no matter what the score is—that we’re not going to feel like we have a shot, especially the way our bats are going.”

HARVARD 13, PRINCETON 12

In a game that seemed like it would never end, Stack-Babich once again provided the heroics for the Crimson. Stack-Babich had six hits in the 17-inning nightcap, but none bigger than his walk-off single to win the game for Harvard, 13-12, over the Tigers. The victory for the Crimson came nearly four-and-a-half hours after the first pitch was thrown.

In the bottom of the 17th inning with Harvard down, 12-11, senior Matt Rogers tied the game on a single with no outs and the bases loaded. Captain Harry Douglas came up next, popping out and giving Stack-Babich the chance to be the hero once again.

Stack-Babich did not squander the opportunity, driving the ball into the right center field gap to give Harvard the 13-12 win.

“With one out and bases loaded—only needing one run—it’s kind of a nice situation,” Stack-Babich said. “I felt pretty good. There’s not a lot of pressure. You don’t even need to get a hit—you just need to get a fly ball, and he gave me a pretty good ball to hit.”

Harvard was dominant in the game’s first five innings, scoring three runs in the fourth and five in the fifth to jump out to a commanding 8-0 lead.

But the Tigers halved the Crimson’s advantage in the sixth, stringing together four hits and a walk with two outs and a runner on third to make the game 8-4.

Both teams went scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings, and Princeton trailed by four heading into the ninth.

The Tigers’ Dan DeGeorge led off the ninth inning with a home run, but rookie reliever Jonah Klees, who had entered the game for Zailskas with two outs in the sixth, quickly retired the next two batters. But Klees then walked the following two hitters and was relieved by Stack-Babich.

The game’s eventual hero, though, was almost its goat, allowing the Tigers to climb all the way back and even the score.

Harvard went down in order in the frame’s bottom half, and the game headed to extra innings tied, 8-8.

Neither team was able to score until the 13th inning, when sophomore Daniel Berardo relieved Stack-Babich, inheriting runners on first and second with one out.

Berardo allowed the Tigers to load the bases for Matt Connor, who scorched a single up the middle, bringing home two Tigers for Princeton’s first lead of the game, 10-8.

The bottom half of the inning saw two quick outs for the Crimson. Down to its last chance, Harvard battled back. Douglas popped a ball into shallow left field, which the shortstop was able to get a glove on but could not haul in. Stack-Babich stepped to the plate, and the senior drilled a two-strike pitch over the right field fence to tie the game, 10-10.

“I was just hoping he would give me something out over the plate, and he did,” Stack-Babich said. “It just felt great to tie it up.”

Freshman Jeff Reynolds relieved Berardo to begin the fifteenth inning. Two quick singles led to Princeton’s having runners at the corners with no outs. Stack-Babich made a nice running catch on the right field line for the first out of the inning, and the following batter hit the ball back to Reynolds, who knocked it down and threw home to get the runner trying to score from third. Reynolds then got a groundball to second base to end the inning unscathed. Harvard had survived again.

The top half of the game’s final frame began with a Tiger ground out to shortstop. The next batter, Tom Boggiano, rocketed a ball down the third base line, and Douglas, the third baseman, made a great stab on it. But Douglas overthrew first base and Boggiano advanced to second. A passed ball moved Boggiano over to third base, and he scored on a triple by Connor. The Tigers then took a two-run lead when Connor scored on a sacrifice fly.

But it was Stack-Babich’s game to shine, and the senior slugger was not to be outdone, adding to his gaudy production on the day with a clutch, walk-off single to give Harvard the win and help the team avoid a sweep and an embarrassing meltdown.

HARVARD 1, PRINCETON 3

In the first game of the doubleheader, Princeton struck first. In the third inning, an RBI double gave Princeton the 1-0 lead. Princeton scored again in the fifth inning, when Connor hit a solo home run to right field.

The Crimson got on the board in the bottom of the fifth, when Rouches doubled in O’Hara, who had also doubled to reach base. But Harvard was unable to further close the gap.

Princeton increased its lead to 3-1—the game’s final score—on a lead off home run in the sixth inning.

Both Princeton’s David Palms and Harvard’s Brent Suter tossed complete games.

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