Rainy weather postponed Senior Day for the Harvard baseball team until Tuesday afternoon, when Dartmouth visited O’Donnell Field for an end-of-season doubleheader. The unseasonably cold and windy conditions remained, and the Crimson found itself on the losing end of the final two games of its season.
The squads battled for five scoreless innings in the day’s first game, but the wheels came off for Harvard in the sixth as Dartmouth rode to a 9-0 win. In the rubber match, the Big Green also prevailed, 5-3, in a back-and-forth contest.
“Going into the day, we knew we were out of it,” junior co-captain Ethan Ferreira said. “But we were just trying to play for our seniors over a very close team…. Unfortunately, we lost these two games. We wanted to win these two games for them and end on a good note.”
DARTMOUTH 5, HARVARD 3
In its final game of the season, the Crimson hung around from start to finish but could not overcome what proved to be a decisive four-run fifth inning for the Big Green.
With junior Matt Timoney on the hill for Harvard, Dartmouth struck first in the top of the second with an unearned run after a walk, a single, and an error in the Crimson infield.
Harvard responded to tie the game in the top of the third, as junior shortstop Jake McGuiggan smoked a 2-0 pitch over the left field fence. The solo shot was McGuiggan’s first homer of the season and the team’s second.
The Crimson would take its first lead of the day in very next inning, and McGuiggan again did the damage. After junior outfielder Jack Colton singled and advanced to second, McGuiggan slapped a two-strike pitch up the middle to give his team a 2-1 lead. McGuiggan went 3-for-4 on the day, a triple short of the cycle.
But as soon as Harvard pulled ahead, Dartmouth countered in commanding fashion with a four-run fifth. With runners on first and third, two consecutive RBI singles allowed the Big Green to reclaim the lead. Joe Purritano, last year’s Ivy Rookie of the year, then roped a double to right-center that plated two more.
Harvard scratched across another run in the eighth, but it would be too little, too late as Dartmouth held on to secure the series sweep.
Crimson coach Bill Decker ensured playing time for a number of seniors in their last career game, in addition to regulars Carlton Bailey, co-captain Kyle Larrow, and Steve Dill. Bailey led the Crimson with a .306 batting average this season.
DARTMOUTH 9, HARVARD 0
If any fans left their seats for the top of the sixth and returned an inning later in the day’s first contest, they may have wondered if they were watching the same game.
After five innings of play, the Crimson and Big Green were locked in a scoreless battle. But the Dartmouth bats came roaring to life in the sixth, erupting for nine runs. In a matter of minutes, a game up for grabs had turned into a rout.
Indeed, the offensive surge seemed to come out of nowhere. Freshman pitcher Nick Gruener had allowed just two hits in five innings of work, and not a single Big Green batter had reached second base.
But everything went south for Harvard in the top of the sixth. After a walk, a hit batsman, and a single loaded the bases for Dartmouth, Gruener surrendered a single to Thomas Roulis that plated the first two runs of the game.
Three more runs eventually scored on a fielder’s choice, an error, and a walk. After Gruener hit a batter to load the bases, Decker replaced his starter with senior Joey Novak. But Dartmouth’s Jeff Keller promptly dealt the biggest blow of the inning, smacking an offering over the left field fence for a grand slam.
“Besides a couple of tough innings, I thought our staff pitched really well,” Larrow said. “We could have used a couple more timely hits. It was a tough day, all in all, to come out and string together 16 innings given the conditions.”
Despite the lopsided final score, Harvard actually out-hit the Big Green, 7-6. The difference was that the Crimson failed to come through with runners in scoring position.
The biggest opportunity for Harvard came in the third, when three consecutive hits from Bailey, Larrow, and junior outfielder Mike Martin loaded the bases with one out. But a strikeout and a groundout left the runners stranded on the basepaths.
Martin highlighted Harvard’s offensive output in the first game, going three-for-four. Although an ugly sixth inning ultimately spoiled Gruener’s final start of the season, the freshman struck out six batters and contributed a dominant first five innings.
“I’m proud of these guys the way we’ve battled all year long,” Larrow said. “It stinks to come up short again, but there are a lot of good things to build on. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to be a part of it, but it was an honor to be on this team for four years.”
—Staff writer David Steinbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.