WEST HARTFORD, Conn.—Last season, a doubleheader in which the Harvard baseball team managed to score only three runs would likely have put the Crimson on the wrong end of a sweep. If Harvard’s bats weren’t clicking, the team’s inexperienced and inconsistent pitching staff could not be counted on to pick up the slack.
This year, the Crimson’s strength lies on the mound, and while Harvard crossed home plate on just three occasions on Saturday in a twinbill against Sacred Heart on the University of Hartford’s Fiondella Field, the Crimson managed to split the pair of seven-inning games.
In Game 1, defensive lapses and an anemic offensive showing squandered a stellar outing by sophomore pitcher Conner Hulse in a 1-0 Harvard loss to the Pioneers.
The Crimson rebounded in the nightcap, riding a home run by junior captain Tyler Albright and a sixth-inning rally to a 3-2 victory.
“I feel like we played good baseball today, but we could have played a lot better,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said.
“With the pitching we’ve got a good idea, but we’re not there defensively and offensively yet.”
HARVARD 3, SACRED HEART 2
With its bats lying dormant on Saturday, the Crimson needed a boost in Game 2 of its doubleheader against the Pioneers. Enter Albright.
With his team down, 1-0, in the top of the fourth inning, the Harvard captain jumped on the first pitch Sacred Heart pitcher Troy Scribner threw to him and blasted an opposite-field shot over the right-field fence.
“Basically Coach [Walsh] just said, ‘Jump on the fastball,’” Albright said. “I just figured, ‘What the hell?’ Let’s just go after the first pitch. It was kind of surprising to hit it to the opposite field. It kind of felt like it turned around the team a little bit.”
Harvard was able to add two more runs in the sixth, and sophomore pitchers Marcus Way and Will Keuper held down the fort on the mound. Way allowed just two runs in five and two-thirds innings of work, and the lefty Keuper wiggled his way out of trouble to nail down the save.
“I didn’t think Marcus had his good fastball today, but he pitched well enough,” Walsh said. “[He] kept them off-stride with the breaking ball. Keuper came in and did a nice job...He’s shown a lot of composure.”
Way has been particularly valuable to the Crimson, excelling on the mound while mashing at the plate. He is third on the team with a 3.68 ERA and leads the squad in slugging percentage.
SACRED HEART 1, HARVARD 0
Hulse pounded the strike zone with a blistering fastball in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, holding the Pioneers scoreless into the bottom of the sixth.