BOSTON—Unlike their helmet-wearing or sneaker-sporting peers, members of the Harvard baseball team do not typically have a halftime intermission to break up the action of their contests. However, such was the case on Wednesday afternoon when Mother Nature put a temporary halt to the Crimson’s Beanpot championship matchup with Boston College at Fenway Park after four and a half innings. The Eagles will be leading 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning when play resumes at a date to be determined.
Both teams entered Wednesday’s contest with severely depleted pitching staffs. The Crimson (13-19, 2-10 Ivy League) was coming off a weekend in which all ten pitchers on its staff were used and the group was tagged for 45 runs over four games. BC (12-22, 3-15 Atlantic Coast Conference) made the trek across Beacon Street following a trip to Dartmouth on Tuesday afternoon during which it used five arms. Harvard coach Bill Decker sent out right-handed reliever Garrett Rupp to start Wednesday’s contest while Mike Gambino countered with sophomore lefty Dan Metzdorf. Within the first few minutes of the game, it was evident that both pitching staffs had eaten their fair shares of innings of late.
Harvard freshman second baseman Quinn Hoffman jumped on the first pitch he saw from Metzdorf, launching the offering over the famous Green Monster in left field. It was the first collegiate home run for Hoffman and one that he will not soon forget. The freshman’s father, Trevor, played at America’s Most Beloved Ballpark over his 18-year MLB career while his uncle, Glenn Hoffman, manned the shortstop spot for the Red Sox from 1980-1987.
“I saw a good pitch to hit, it was low in the zone, and put a good bat on it,” Hoffman said. “I didn’t think it was going to go anywhere. It’s just a surreal moment and an amazing opportunity to get to play at Fenway. To be in the same infield as [my uncle], where he played is pretty special.”
Hoffman’s start to Wednesday’s game strongly resembled the Crimson’s last contest at Fenway Park. Captain Jake McGuiggan ’14-’15, who battled injuries throughout his senior season but made a point to return in time for Fenway, went deep in the first inning of Harvard’s Beanpot consolation game against Northeastern in 2015.
McGuiggan’s long ball two years ago took on special meaning for the Hingham, Mass., product and lifelong Red Sox fan, who went yard on the same day as teammate and fellow Massachusetts native Conor Quinn. Playing at the MLB’s oldest stadium and one that the Harvard baseball team helped christen in 1912 took on special meaning for captain Josh Ellis, the club’s only Bay State resident to appear in the game.
“It’s definitely a dream come true,” captain Josh Ellis said. “I got to play a few innings last time, but it was nothing like being behind the plate where Jason Varitek was; he’s one of my longtime heroes. It’s pretty cool to see the backdrop and see the Monster and get to play with some of my closest friends.”
After the first inning ended without another peep out of the Crimson offense, the Eagles went to work on Rupp. Junior outfielder Donovan Casey beat out an infield single to break up the Harvard junior’s no-hit bid before it began. After Casey advanced to second on a fielder’s choice, he was driven in on a gap-finding double from senior centerfielder Michael Strem.
Despite the major league grounds crew tasked with manicuring it, third base lived up to its hot corner nickname on Wednesday afternoon. A Gian Martellini bullet ate up Harvard third baseman John Fallon and extended the inning. A double from junior first baseman Mitch Bigras plated Strem and gave the Eagles a 2-1 advantage.
Despite the rocky starts by both starting pitchers, the offenses were held scoreless up until the bottom of the fourth inning. Rupp went two frames for the Crimson before being replaced by freshman left-hander JT Bernard. The first-year ran into trouble after walking BC left fielder Jake Alu to kick off the fourth. On three consecutive pitches, the sophomore managed to steal second, third, and cross home on a wild pitch.
“I love when guys run on me,” Ellis said. “It was tough, a couple great jumps. I can see that from my vantage point so it’s a little frustrating when it takes a while for a pitch to get there but I just gotta do what I gotta do, get a good throw on it. Having Q in the middle, put a couple tags down, makes it easier.”
Harvard got the run back its next time up as sophomore first baseman Patrick McColl doubled and was driven in by classmate John MacLean. The run appeared to put the Crimson within striking distance for the game’s final four and a half innings but instead ended up being the capstone to the first half of a game that will take a week or more to be completed.
The inclement weather was not a surprise to the two teams or the umpires. The Beanpot’s consolation game between Northeastern and UMass was condensed to seven innings and the break between the two games was trimmed from 45 minutes to 20 in an attempt to give Harvard and BC more time to beat the rain. But it was not to be.
“When you’re playing in a venue like this, they need to do what they need to do,” Decker said. “I think we started our conversations around 3:00 during the first game. It’s a treat for the kids, for Josh from Milton, and for Quinn. We’ll find a way to finish it, unfortunately it’ll be somewhere else.”
—Staff writer Stephen J. Gleason can be reached at email@example.com.
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