The Crimson faced a tall task going into the weekend—sweep Dartmouth in a four-game home-and-home series or miss out on the Ivy League Championship Series for the sixth straight year.
Unfortunately for Harvard (12-30, 8-12 Ivy), the visitors’ bats proved to be too much to handle on Saturday afternoon at O’Donnell Field as the Big Green (22-16, 14-6) took down the Crimson, 11-3 and 12-3. With the two losses, Harvard was knocked out of playoff contention, while Dartmouth rode the wins to the league’s Rolfe Division title.
“We knew it was definitely going to be an uphill challenge,” senior pitcher Brent Sutter said. “But all of us thought we had a serious chance to make something special happen given that they’d be the ones with something to lose and we’d be coming out aggressively. They came out ready to play, and they just put balls in play and made us make plays that just didn’t work out for us.”
The Crimson entered the weekend’s matchups after grabbing three wins against Brown in its most recent series, but the Big Green was riding a 10-game winning streak that included commanding victories over the Bears and several non-conference opponents.
Dartmouth was also reluctant to give up its place as the four-time defending Rolfe Division champion—a run that hadn’t been completed since Harvard did it before the turn of the century.
“Obviously we were disappointed on Saturday,” junior Rob Wineski said. “We went into the weekend really fired up, especially needing to get the four wins, but it was just one of those times where we fought hard but things just really didn’t go our way.”
DARTMOUTH 12, HARVARD 3
After a confidence-shaking first game against the Big Green, the Crimson failed to rebound in the nightcap, and Dartmouth capitalized on its momentum to jump out to a 5-0 advantage in the first frame.
Harvard senior pitcher Conner Hulse only allowed three hits in the first, but a series of errors and wild pitches allowed the Big Green’s runners to advance and build up the early lead.
Dartmouth showed no signs of relenting, as the Big Green third baseman Nick Lombardi hit a grand slam in the top of the fourth to open up the margin even further.
By the seventh inning, Harvard was facing an 11-run deficit.
“When you’re down by that much, especially in the first few innings, it’s hard to come back at all, so I think we showed a lot of heart just sticking in there,” Wineski said.
Senior Jeff Reynolds, last week’s Ivy Player of the Week, seemed to agree and refused to let the Crimson go down without a fight.
Reynolds stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and sent a three-run homer sailing over the right-center-field fence to put the Crimson on the board.
The veteran’s homerun brought out more energy from the Harvard dugout and crowd than had been seen for most of the day, but it proved to be too little, too late.