Displaying its ability to remain calm under tournament pressure, Harvard's varsity baseball team swept two close victories from UMass Monday, 2-1, 4-2, and advanced to the World Series Championship.
In the first game Bill Kelly's clutch pitching helped the Crimson survive a five-hit batting draught. Then in the nightcap, Harvard's hitting attack came alive in the late innings to rebound from a two-run deficit. Lefthander J. C. Nickers threw five innings of shutout ball to earn the win.
Harvard appeared well on its way to the championship in Omaha in the first game as the first four batters reached base safely. After Vince McGugan walked and Dave Ignacio pushed a bunt past the charging first baseman. Dan DeMichele delivered Harvard's only runs of the game with a slicing drive to left field that fooled the outfielder.
The Crimson put ten more runners on base in the next five innings, but tall lefthander Tem White twice get out of jams by forcing McGugan and Pete Varney to pop-up with the bases loaded.
In the seventh, Jim Kiley belied a solo home run and in the eighth, UMass threatened as the Redmen loaded the bases on two singles and a walk before anyone was out. With speedster Charlie Manley on third, Kelly struck out the Redmen's top hitter, Dan Esposito, Then after one strike, Mark Palau bunted foul twice with Manley stealing home. Kelly finished the rally by whiffing Ed McMahon.
The victory belonged to Kelly. With three men on, he still had nerve enough to vary his pitches, throwing changeups and half-speeds while the batters locked for the fastball.
UMass jumped on starter Phil Collins in the second game. Loading the bases with one out in the third, McGugan killed the rally with a double play at second. But in the fourth, Kiley walked and Espes?to singled to put two runs in scoring position.
Trying to prevent a blooding liner from dropping, Hal Smoth made a diving stab at a single to left and the ball got past him, scoring both runs.
DeMichele singled one run home in the fifth, closing the gap to 2-1. But the Crimson stranded two runners and two more in the sixth, and lefthander Tony King appeared in control.
With two out in the seventh, DeMichele walked and scored from first on a deep drive by Pete Varney and ??? the game. Varney then scored the winning ??lly on a single to center that Manley misjudged.
Nickens walked two of the first three batters he faced, but he settled down to held the Redmen to three hits over five innings.
The only danger came in the seventh when Manley reached first on an error and advanced to third when a pick off threw hit his helmet. On the next pitch, Nickens pitched with the runner stealing home. Unable to reach the ball with his bat. UMass's Jack Conroy threw his body at Varney's legs, trying to knock over the 230-lb, catcher. Needless to say he failed, and Manley was out by several yards.