After the southern trip, the unbearable cold spell, the slump that overstayed its welcome, the doubleheader fiasco versus Columbia and the twin shellings of Larry Brown, these boys are finally peaking. The Harvard baseball team played superbly in its home finale yesterday, defeating Boston College, 7-6, in a game that really wasn't that close.
Only a windblown grand slam in the second inning kept the Eagles in the contest, as Crimson batters abused five B.C. pitchers for 15 hits, eight of them for extra bases.
The way things started out, the Crimson's slugging clinic was necessary. B.C. jumped to a 4-0 lead in the blink of an eye when Harvard starter Rob Alevizos lost his concentration in the second inning, walking three straight batters before serving up a juicy outside fastball to weak-hitting second baseman Chuck Mitchell. Mitchell launched an arching parabola to deep right field that a sympathetic gust of wind carried over the fence for a home run and an instant four-run lead.
Alevizos retired the next ten batters and appeared well on his way to a complete game until an injury forced him to leave in favor of Jim Keyte in the seventh.
With the score tied at 4-all in that inning, B.C. pushed a runner to second base and then brought him around to take a 5-4 lead when centerfielder Ed Follen ripped Alevizos's injury-inducing pitch up the middle for an RBI single.
"I threw a slider and felt something pop," the junior right-hander said after the game, nursing his limp arm. "I just put a little something extra on it, I guess," Alevizos added. "I've never felt anything like it before."
Despite occasional wildness, hard-throwing reliever Keyte held B.C. to a single run in the last two and one-third innings. That was an adequate enough performance, as the Harvard offense sprayed Boston College pitches around Soldiers Field like so many pieces of frying popcorn.
Junior slugger Mike Stenhouse started the flurry in the third, yanking a low inside fastball over the right-field fence on a screeching line for his long-awaited first home run of the season.
"Last year some of the guys named the area between the fence and the track building Sten Plaza," Stenhouse said. "Before the game, I told everybody I had to visit Sten Plaza once today. I'm glad I did. It felt great."
Rick Pearce--back in the line-up at third base--and hot hitters Burke St. John and Bobby Kelley bunched singles for another run in the fourth. Pearce and St. John ganged up on Eagle starter Bob Meara again in the sixth, tying up the game when Pearce rapped a two-run double and St. John followed by powdering a full-count fastball for a home run to left-center.
The junior shortstop, who had been hitting around .150 much of the season, has hit .414 over the last eight games to raise his average to .231. "I got off to a horrendous start, but I've been hanging in there, and lately the bat's been coming around," St. John said.
B.C. coach Ed Pellagrini employed a revolving-door policy in the bottom of the seventh as he sent four pitchers to the mound, but Kelley, Stenhouse, Jim Peccerillo and Charlie Santos-Buch spoiled the strategy by clouting four tape-measure doubles to give Harvard three runs and a 7-5 lead.
Keyte got out of a ninth-inning jam when Kelley turned a nifty double play to end the game and give Harvard its 18th win in 30 outings.
THE NOTEBOOK: Santos-Buch's double and Kelley's 3-for-5 performance extended their hitting streaks to ten and nine games, respectively.
E--Keyte. DP--Boston College 1, Harvard 1. LOB--Boston College 6, Harvard 9. 2B--Pearce, Kelley, Stenhouse, Peccerillo, Santos-Buch, Tilles. HR--Mitchell, Stenhouse (1), Stewart, St. John (1). SB--Follen, Stewart, Gilbody. S--Cullinane. SF--Bingham.