In just over a week, the Harvard baseball team will take on Boston College in arguably baseball’s most historic ballpark—Fenway Park.
On Tuesday, the Crimson (12-15, 1-7 Ivy League) was given a taste of just how strong of a team the Eagles (10-20, 1-14 Atlantic Coast Conference) will be during next week’s Beanpot Championship, as Boston College defeated Harvard 8-5 after a four-run rally in the seventh. This preview, played Tuesday afternoon at Shea Field in Newton, Mass., extended the Crimson’s winless streak to four.
“It will be good for us to see them next week at the Beanpot,” co-captain Josh Ellis said. “It just wasn’t in the cards today, but it was a really good team effort overall. They just had guys there under many of the balls we hit well.”
Harvard’s offense came alive in the fourth inning as it scored three runs off of Eagles freshman right-hander Jack Nelson.
After Nelson walked sophomore Devan Peterson to lead off the inning, a groundout by freshman infielder Chad Minato allowed Peterson to advance to second, where he subsequently scored off of a fielding error by Boston College senior shortstop Johnny Adams.
The inning was then capped off by a two-run home run by sophomore right fielder Patrick Robinson, his third four-bagger of the season.
“The team came out with great energy today,” freshman pitcher JT Bernard said. “Overall I thought it was a really good game for us going into this weekend. A few balls here and there, it would have been a different ballgame.”
On the mound, Harvard freshman Grant Stone pitched five innings, scattering two runs in the first before hurling four scoreless innings to close out his afternoon. Stone struck out two batters and walked just one Eagles player in his third start of the season.
“I felt we had a really good performance out of Grant,” Ellis said. “He has become our mid-week guy and is getting his feet wet pitching at the college level. It is really great to see the young guys progressing.”
Tuesday’s outing marked Stone’s second consecutive strong performance in a midweek start, as his Apr. 5 showing against Massachusetts saw him pitch three innings, allowing just one run while striking out four.
Unfortunately, for Stone, the 4-2 lead held by the Crimson after the top of the sixth was squandered by a rough sixth and seventh, in which Harvard gave up six total runs.
In the seventh, Harvard went through four relief pitchers as the Eagles took an 8-5 lead that they would not relinquish. Boston College consistently reached base during the inning and benefited from the Crimson’s mistakes, including a fielding error and a wild pitch. Of the four runs, only one was earned.
Harvard could not dig itself out of the hole, as the offense went 0-for-6 with a walk between the eighth and ninth innings. Boston College brought in junior Donovan Casey, who now holds a 2.57 earned run average on the season, in the eighth, and closer Mitch Bigras, who has yet to give up a run in four innings pitched this season, for the ninth.
Even with the disappointing finish, Harvard saw this mid-week game as an opportunity to provide its younger players with some game experience and assess the Eagles as they look to the Beanpot final next Wednesday.
“Next time playing for the Beanpot Championship at Fenway Park will be a great experience for our younger guys,” Ellis said. “It is such an iconic ballpark and we will get a lot of support from family and friends. I’m just going to remind the guys that the game isn’t changing even though it’s a new venue.”
Before the excitement surrounding the Beanpot, however, the Crimson will need to focus this weekend on a pair of doubleheaders against Yale. Currently holding only one win against Ancient Eight opponents and sitting sixth in the conference, Harvard will look to build some momentum heading into Fenway with a strong performance at home.“I am super excited about these next few games,” Bernard said. “Everybody is looking forward to Wednesday, but we are going after some big wins against Yale.”