Entering the ninth inning of its first-round Beanpot matchup Tuesday night, the Harvard baseball team had amassed a three-run lead over crosstown rival Boston College.
But the seemingly comfortable advantage nearly evaporated after a walk by junior pitcher Matt Doyle and two singles loaded the bases for the Eagles with just one out in the final frame.
With the tying run for BC (13-21, 4-11 ACC) on base, junior hurlers Andrew Ferreira and Zack Olson came through for the Crimson (6-22, 2-6 Ivy).
The duo struck out the only two batters they faced on the night, securing Harvard’s second straight berth in the Beanpot final with a 5-2 victory at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass.
“All around it was a really well-played game,” junior third baseman Kyle Larrow said. “We got runs when we had to, we played good defense, and we pitched well. Something our team has been trying to do all year is to do all three things at the same time—we have to pitch, play defense, and hit. We were able to do that today.”
Harvard got the scoring started off early, jumping out to a two-run lead in the first inning of Tuesday’s contest. After sophomore left fielder Jack Colton and senior second baseman Jeff Reynolds got on base with a pair of singles, sophomore shortstop Jake McGuiggan drove them both home with a single down the left field line.
The Crimson was able to stretch its lead to three in the third frame, as McGuiggan found his way home on a fly out from senior catcher John Smart.
“Jake’s been absolutely tearing up the ball lately,” Olson said. “It seems around this time every year he starts to get hot. Right now, you feel like he’s one of the guys you want up at the plate to get a big hit.”
With freshman Matt Timoney starting on the mound for just the second time in his rookie campaign, BC got back within striking distance. Sophomore outfielder Tom Bourdon drove in two runs with a single and a double in the third and fifth innings, respectively, making the first-round Beanpot matchup a one-run game again.
But the two scores were all the Eagles could muster on the day. Timoney finished the game with three strikeouts in 7.1 innings pitched, and McGuiggan led the offensive charge for the Crimson, earning an impressive four hits in just five at-bats Tuesday night.
“Matt Timoney...threw really, really well,” Larrow said. “He kept us in the game the whole time.”
Rookie designated hitter Nick Saathoff also had a strong night, notching three hits of his own.
“This was a big game for [Saathoff] as a freshman,” Olson said. “We all know he’s got a really talented offensive bat. He needed to get a few at-bats out there to get into the rhythm of the college game, and I think now he’s really starting to get a handle on things. I think he’s going to be big for us throughout the rest of the year.”
Harvard returned BC’s fire in the next few innings, pushing its lead back up to three by the end of the ninth frame. In the top of the sixth, freshman Ethan Ferreira sent Saathoff home, coming up with a big single after his team had amassed two outs. Larrow followed suit in the ninth, driving in McGuiggan with a single to right field after the shortstop stole second base.
The Eagles—who have claimed an all-time high nine Beanpot titles since the tournament’s inception—have struggled recently against the Crimson, dropping two games within a week despite entering the 2012 season on a 15-game winning streak against Harvard.
“We felt like, talent-wise, we were on an equal playing field,” Olson said. “Both [last week and Tuesday night], I think we brought a little bit more intensity than BC. We had a little more focus on the little things, and it paid off with two wins.”
In Tuesday night’s other Beanpot matchup, UMass took down Northeastern, 4-1. The Minutemen will meet the Crimson on April 18 to compete for Boston-area bragging rights and the midseason championship title. For Harvard, a win against UMass would break a Beanpot championship drought stretching back to 2005—the longest such current streak among the four Beanpot-eligible teams.
“The win [over the Eagles] is huge,” Olson said. “It gives us a load of confidence going into this weekend…beating BC twice within a span of a week really gives us a lot of confidence for our conference play.”
—Staff writer Catherine E. Coppinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.