The Harvard baseball team, faced with three do-or-die games this weekend to keep alive title hopes, swept a double-header from a good Princeton squad on Saturday, 4-1, 4-2, and then crushed Navy, 9-0, yesterday.
The Crimson came into this weekend's action with Eastern League-leading Princeton mired in fifth place with a mediocre 5-4 record. But with three league wins, Harvard jumped to third place with a chance to tie for first with Princeton if it can beat Penn twice on Thursday in Philadelphia.
For Harvard hurlers Milt Holt and Mike O'Malley, Saturday's twin bill with Princeton was nearly a rerun of the Dartmouth doubleheader a week earlier. But there was one important difference--the Harvard offense finally gave O'Malley some runs to work with, and as a result, his first Eastern League victory of his hardluck season.
Both pitchers had tossed five-hitters at the Big Green on May 4, but Holt came out of his contest with his fifth victory, while O'Malley was forced to swallow a tough 3-1 defeat. It was the senior captain's third EIBL loss, despite a 2.02 ERA (fifth best in the league).
O'Malley Gets His Due
Saturday the duo each threw four-hitters at the Black and Orange, and again Holt came out smelling like a rose with a 4-1 win. But this time O'Malley received some help from the Harvard batters and picked up a long overdue 4-2 win in the nightcap.
Holt made it look easy once again, as he scattered four hits over four innings and struck out five. The only Tiger run came in the fifth as Kevin Plunkett lifted one over the fence in left to match a fourth-inning blast by Harvard's Don Driscoll.
That was as close to winning as the Tigers came, however, as the Crimson hitters came up with three hits and three runs in the fifth off Princeton ace Scott McHenry. Catcher Dan Williams started things off with a double, followed by a walk to shortstop Ed Durso. Hot-hitting Leigh Hogan, three-for-three on the afternoon, doubled in the pair for a 3-1 lead and later scored on Dave St. Pierre's single.
The nightcap, on the other hand, was a bit closer. Both starters, O'Malley and Mark Softy for Princeton, sailed through the first four innings with the Tigers getting the only hit, a double by Kevin Kaufman in the second. But Princeton could not capitalize on the hit and Kaufman died at third.
The Crimson staked O'Malley to a 1-0 lead in the fifth as Williams chipped in another hit, driving home Leon Goetz all the way from first base. The Tigers, however, did not roll over and die. They gained a 2-1 lead in the sixth, scoring a pair of unearned runs.
Jon Blodgett and Ed Kuchar singled in the inning and Ken Beytin reached on a rare Durso error to load the bases. Kaufman then served up his second hit of the day to drive in the tying and go-ahead runs. It almost looked as if O'Malley would be saddled with another undeserved loss, but the Crimson bats were able to put the ball where they wanted it in the sixth to earn the win.
Two outs after Ric LaCivita was struck by one of Mr. Softy's pitches, St. Pierre placed one right between the legs of third baseman Kuchar to score LaCivita and tie it. The Saint stole second and scored the game-winner on Jimmy Thomas's double.
The final run, to add insult to injury, came on a double steal as Driscoll, who reached on a single, drew the throw to second and Thomas crossed the plate to make it 4-2.
On a cold and wet afternoon, suitable only for ducks and midshipmen, Navy could throw up only token resistance to the Crimson nine-run, fifteen-hit barrage.
Harvard riddled the Naval defenses for a pair of runs in the second inning as St. Pierre slashed a single up the middle followed by Jim Thomas's line to left center. St. Pierre scored on a Goetz blast and Thomas (who went three-for-three for the afternoon) reached home on a beautifully executed sacrifice bunt by Larry Barbiaux.
The Crimson fired its heavy artillery for the rest of the afternoon as it hit safely in each of the remaining innings, a far cry from last month, when fifteen hits was a weekend's worth.
Harvard starter Don Driscoll was tagged for only two hits as he pitched shutout ball before being relieved by Norm Walsh in the eighth. Driscoll struck out nine men and Walsh whiffed two more as the last 18 Navy batters were put down in order.
The game was delayed for ten minutes in the top of the sixth and the ten or twelve spectators hoped the umpire would call the game to mercifully end the then 8-0 slaughter. But the ump, apparently not a proponent of euthanasia, resumed the game when the rain let up to a mere sprinkle in spite of muddy basepaths that resembled swamp roads.