The road can be a merciless, unforgiving place. The Harvard baseball team has found that out the hard way.
Before its win over Holy Cross, the Crimson had lost 10 of its last 11 games by fewer than two runs per game.
The Crimson (2-16) is coming off its second win of the season against the Crusaders. Harvard jumped out to an early 7-0 lead against Holy Cross (11-10), but found itself desperately clinging to a one run lead in the 9th until senior left-handed pitcher Brent Suter came in for the save.
This weekend, Harvard will meet Cornell (13-4-1) and Princeton (6-9) to open Ivy League play.
Both the Crimson and the Big Red—who Harvard will face on Saturday—struggled last season.
Last year, Harvard was 9-36 and at the bottom of the Rolfe division. The Crimson floundered both at home and away.
Similarly, Cornell was 10-30 overall, at the bottom of the Gehrig division, and struggled both at home and away.
And in their two meetings last season, the two clubs split decisions.
Harvard won the first game in dramatic fashion when then-junior designated hitter Marcus Way blasted a walk-off grand slam to shock the Big Red and take the game, 11-8.
The second game was all Cornell. The Crimson dug itself into a double-digit deficit in the second inning and was never able to reestablish itself. Big Red outfielder Brian Billigen had six at bats in the game with two homeruns and 4 RBIs to lead his team to an 18-5 win.
This season, Cornell looks to be a completely different team.
Breaking program records left and right, the Big Red cleaned up a three game series to end a successful spring break trip to Virginia. Cornell has its best record through 18 games since 1906 and is coming off four wins and a tie, all while being on the road. The Big Red is the only Ivy League team to head into the season opener with a winning record.
Senior outfielder Brian Billigen is the spark to the Cornell offense, batting .452 with 22 RBIs and four homeruns. The Pennsylvania native was named Ivy League Player of the Week on March 6 and has built a blistering 16-game hitting streak.
In contrast, Harvard has sputtered on the road to begin this season.
“[The win against Holy Cross] gives us a lot of momentum going into this weekend,” sophomore catcher Steven Dill said. “Getting that win was big for us. It gives us a lot of confidence, especially since we have been losing a lot of close games.”