In the Harvard baseball team’s first games of its spring season, late-game lapses led to four straight losses. The confines of the J.L. Johnson Stadium in Tulsa, Okla. were not friendly to the Crimson (0-4) in its series against Oral Roberts, as Harvard lost all four by a total of six runs.
“We were three innings away [in each of the games] from being 4-0,” said junior right fielder Brandon Kregel. “I think this weekend was more of a learning experience because we have the talent, witout a doubt. If you go through the box score, we were up [late], and I think…we just crashed a bit mentally.”
The Crimson’s trip to Oral Roberts (5-6) was the first meeting between the squads in the programs’ histories.“Oklahoma was a great place to open up [the season],” Kregel said. “Oral Roberts is one of the better teams in college baseball, so it was a nice experience to play against them, and we hung with them every single game.”
ORAL ROBERTS 6, HARVARD 5
Harvard suffered another one-run loss in the final matchup of the four-game set. Defensive woes sent the Crimson back to Cambridge still looking for its first win.
Led by senior second baseman Kyle Larrow’s trio of hits and Kregel’s three walks, the Harvard offense managed 12 hits and drew five walks against five Golden Eagle pitchers, while senior starter Sam Dodge threw six innings and struck out four for the Crimson.
But the Harvard defense had three errors in the game, and a balk by losing pitcher Zack Olson in the bottom of the eighth gave Oral Roberts a 6-4 lead heading into the ninth. In the second half of the frame, the Crimson nearly pulled off a rally, but fell just short again. Kregel slapped an RBI single to left to pull within one. Kregel advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch, but junior designated hitter Ethan Ferreira and Dill struck out to end the game, stranding the tying and go-ahead runs on base.
ORAL ROBERTS 5, HARVARD 3
Saturday was a new day, but the results of the second doubleheader were a similar story.Both sides’ bats were quiet until late in the game, with Harvard freshman right-hander Nick Gruener striking out six and walking none. He lasted seven and two-thirds innings on the mound in his first collegiate appearance.
From the opposite dugout, Oral Roberts’ Gavin Glanz matched him with a seven-plus inning quality start of his own.
“I was pretty excited about [getting to start] after we’ve been training for six months now,” Gruener said. “To have the opportunity to start one of the first four games as a freshman was pretty huge. It was unfortunate that we lost, but I thought as a team we pushed hard.”
In its half of the eighth, the Crimson took advantage of three Golden Eagles errors, scoring three runs—two unearned—and taking a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the inning. But once again, finishing the game strong turned out to be the Achilles heel for Harvard.
Still in the game, Gruener gave up a single and a two-bagger to cut the Crimson lead to one before giving way to junior right-hander Matt Timoney. For the second straight day, the junior right-hander was unable to shut the door, walking Brandy and then giving up a two-run triple to clean-up Oral Roberts hitter Jose Trevino.
Freshman Greg Coman took over for Harvard, and gave up another triple to make the score 5-3 in favor of the home squad. The Crimson had two hits by Larrow and junior outfielder Jack Colton to bring junior outfielder Mike Martin to the plate in the top of the ninth, but Martin grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the rally and the game.