It may not have been the best game Larry Brown ever pitched. but it was nothing close to his worst.
Brown, a lanky 6-ft. 3-in. junior righthander, faced only 29 batters at MIT's Briggs Field yesterday, and he missed a no-hitter only by virtue of Engineer Jeff Felton's one-out bunt single in the first inning.
For the record. Brownie, who quarterbacked the Crimson gridders this past fall, registered ten strikeouts on the day, retired 18 batters in a row between the first and seventh innings (a walk to Eric Steinhagen broke that string), and let just two balls out of the infield--a couple of lazy cans of corn--over nine innings.
"They're a really well-coached team, and they were up there taking their cuts." Brown said after the game, "but they only have about three or four really good hitters, so it wasn't that tough."
"Coach Park told me just to go out there and concentrate, so that's what I did--I got in some good work."
Asked if he thought it was one of his best games. Brown simply responded, "Not really."
Could be, but Larry served up an impressive mixture of fastballs and curves (he did not use any offspeed stuff) all afternoon, rarely falling behind and looking next to untouchable except for a shaky moment or two in the late innings. He threw only 95 pitches en route to his fifth 1978 victory versus no defeats.
Steve Joyce did a capable job catching the one-hitter, and the Harvard defense, especially the infield, shone.
Back to the bunt. Ah, the bunt. To set the stage, Brown had just retired the MIT leadoff man on a grounder to second. Rick Pearce, the Crimson's stellar third baseman, inched up toward the grass, since the book on speedy MIT second baseman Jeff Felton was that he could bunt.
And indeed, Felton could, as he squared around on Brown's first pitch--an outside fastball--and plunked it cleanly down the third base line. With the ball halfway down the line and angling toward the chalk, catcher Joyce wisely yelled to let it roll. The pill scooted straight along the line for perhaps a second--Pearce and Brown hovering over it quizzically, like consulting surgeons, Felton already safe at first--before mysteriously hooking back into fair territory. Pearce snapped the ball up in his palm with disgust.
"Joyce yelled to let it go, and then it rolled on the line, I swear, for at least a foot and a half," Brown said later. "It was unbelievable."
The MIT bench burst out in howls, cheering the basehit. Little did they know at the time that it would be the last occasion for such an outburst that day.
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