On the first pitch of the Harvard baseball team’s home opener, Tom Bourdon of Boston College hit a pop up to short left field. But before the ball could hit the grass, sophomore shortstop Carlton Bailey, who batted one-for-three and had a run and two double plays on the day, caught the ball to give the Crimson its first out on O’Donnell Field for the 2012 season.
Harvard (4-19, 1-3 Ivy) ended up beating the Eagles, 5-3, in its first home-opener victory since its 16-6 decision over the University of Vermont in 2004. The win over Boston College (13-16, 4-8 ACC) also brought a halt to a 15-game losing streak against the Crimson’s cross-town rival.
“We came into the game just thinking we have to hold it down, have to hold our turf,” Bailey said.
Senior Marcus Way started the game and gave up no hits or runs in his pitching debut, but the win was credited to freshman Jacob Kremers, who had two strikeouts in his two innings on the mound.
Senior second baseman Jeff Reynolds and sophomore catcher Steven Dill were prolific with the bat, notching two hits and two RBIs apiece in only four at-bats.
But the Harvard players were not the only ones who put on a show at the game: close to one hundred elementary school students made an appearance at O’Donnell Field, a few even holding signs, to cheer on the home team.
The children came from Cunniff Elementary School in Watertown, Mass. where a core group of six Crimson players visit every Friday morning to tutor and play with the students. The eager kids filled two buses to come see their favorite mentors play baseball.
“One of the teachers I spoke to said that in her 30 years [at Cunniff] this has been the most fun that the kids have had,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. “They look up to these guys.”
The Crimson did not disappoint its mentees, taking the lead in the third inning and never relinquishing it.
After freshmen first baseman Nick Saathoff and center fielder Mike Martin walked to put Harvard on first and second in the third inning, Bailey stepped up to the plate. He bunted down the first base line and hustled to first, advancing Saathoff and Martin and loading the bases.
Having already recorded a hit in the first frame, Reynolds grounded out to second, but Saathoff made it home on the play and both Martin and Bailey advanced into scoring position.
Next up, Dill hit a blooper to right field that dropped in front of the Eagles’ outfielder, allowing both Martin and Bailey to score without giving up an out.
The inning came to a close after Dill was caught trying to steal second.
Boston College responded with one run in the top of the fourth. Kremers, who replaced Way in relief, was on the mound with the bases loaded and one out.
The Eagles’ John Hennessy grounded out, knocking in the runner on third and giving him the RBI, good for his team’s first run of the game.