Playing at the New York Yankees spring training complex in Tampa, Florida, the Harvard baseball team concluded its eight-day training trip with a three-game set against Army.
The Crimson started off on a high note, riding strong pitching and consistent offense to a 5-1 win. But Harvard (4-13) could not build on the momentum, as the Black Knights (14-6) earned victories in the following two contests by tight scores of 3-2 and 6-4.
ARMY 6, HARVARD 4
In the final match up of the series on Saturday, the Crimson fell into an early hole and trailed, 6-0, after four innings. Harvard would stage a rally in the top of the ninth that resulted in three runs, but it would not be enough as the team fell, 6-4.
Army struck first in the bottom of the third, when Patrick Mescher smacked a grand slam with one out to put four runs on the board. The Black Knights tacked on two more in the next inning, as a sacrifice fly and a single extended the lead to six.
Four Crimson relievers would hold the Army bats silent for the rest of the game, providing the Harvard offense with a chance to claw its way back.
After tacking on a run in the top of the seventh, the Crimson found itself trailing, 6-1, entering the ninth. Two consecutive errors from the Black Knights brought home one run, and a single from senior Carlton Bailey plated two more.
Bailey led the team with three singles, and junior Jack Colton and junior Jake McGuiggan each added two knocks of their own. Despite amassing eight hits to Army’s seven, Harvard ultimately would have to settle for the loss.
ARMY 3, HARVARD 2
After earning a win in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, the Crimson jumped out to an early lead but could not hang on in the late innings as the Black Knights walked off with the victory.
Harvard struck first with runs in the first and third innings, but Army had tied the game by the time the bottom of the ninth rolled around. The contest would end with one out, as a leadoff single, sacrifice bunt, and another single from Army’s Mescher brought home the winning run.
Despite outhitting the Black Knights, 12-8, Harvard left 11 men on base and could not break through offensively in the later innings.
The Crimson received strong hitting performances from junior Mike Martin and senior Kyle Larrow, who contributed four and three knocks, respectively, at the top of the lineup. The duo accounted for both of Harvard’s runs, as Martin scored on a sacrifice fly from junior Brandon Kregel in the first inning.
Two frames later, a sacrifice fly from junior Ethan Ferreira brought home Larrow, who had singled to lead off the inning.
Freshman Nick Gruener made his fourth start of the year for Harvard and finished six innings, allowing one earned run on six hits. Sophomore Nick Scahill contributed six outs of scoreless relief before being replaced by classmate T.J. Laurisch in the ninth.
HARVARD 5, ARMY 1
The Crimson began the doubleheader on a strong note, as early offense and a strong pitching performance from sophomore Sean Poppen propelled Harvard to a clean, 5-1 victory.
Poppen skillfully guided the Crimson through seven innings, striking out six while allowing just one unearned run. Army could never figure out the sophomore and did not advance a runner to second base until the sixth inning.
Poppen has completed at least six innings in each of his four starts this season, and he has posted a sparkling 1.44 earned run average while holding opposing hitters to a combined .220 batting average.
The Harvard offense stormed out of the gates with three runs in the top of the first, highlighted by a double from Ferreira that plated two. The team added another run in the second when Colton smacked an RBI two-bagger of his own. A single from junior Steve Dill in the eighth stretched the Crimson’s lead to four.
Four players – Colton, Ferreira, Dill, and sophomore Mitch Klug – registered two hits on the game, and Kregel walked three times.
—Staff writer David Steinbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.