Today's doubleheader with Northeastern marks the end of the preseason for the undefeated Harvard baseball team, whose 6-0 record reflects the success with which it has plugged the holes left by graduates of last year's Eastern League champions.
Yesterday's 8-4 triumph over Umass proved the Crimson's biggest test yet. Harvard saw an early 4-0 lead vanish as the Minutemen rallied to tie the score in the eighth.
"I didn't think we were going to win," said Crimson starter Charlie Marchese, who threw six innings of shutout ball while fanning seven and walking no one. For Harvard, which hadn't scored since Elliott Rivera's leadoff blast over the left-field fence, the comeback displayed a grit, a determination, an inact drive a. . .
"We showed a lot of balls," Marchese said.
A Paul Vallone walk, a passed ball and a Bruce Welter singe gave Harvard a 5-4 edge in the bottom of the drizzly, sub-40:degree eight inning at Soldiers Field. After Bobby Kay popped out and Jim DePalo reached on an error, Umass Coach Dick Bergguist called on reliever Steve Allard.
Rivera hit Allard's first offering down the left field line, scoring both Weller and Depalo. One out later pinch hitter Chris McAndrews slapped an RBI single and Harvard had its 8-4 lead.
It was enough for sophomore Cecil Cox, who earnerd his first collegiate victory for 1 1/3 innings of work. Cox came in with Harvard up 4-3, two out and two mewn on, them went to a full count before walking pinch hitter Tim Foster to load the bases.
Cox again went to a full count before John Bloise hit a grounder back over the mound. Shortstop Tony DiCesare fielded the ball just behind second base but didn't have a play and the tying run scored. Then Cox struck out Andrew Conners to get out of the inning.
Cox had an easy ninth inning, with one walk breaking up a one-two three inning.
"It's nice to get the 'W'," Cox said, but added that Marchese did the bulk of the work "It was definitely Charlie's win."
Things weren't overly easy for Cox, though, as the playing conditions took their toll "I couldn't feel my hand at all I still can't feel my hand," he said, explaining how the cold weather kept him from throwing a single change up in the eighth inning.
On offense, DePalo suffered through his second straight one-for-five outing, but he made his hit count. The freshman catcher's first-inning homer down the left field line gave Harvard its first three runs. DePalo now has three round trips and 14 RBIs in his first six collegiate games.
Rivera, who earned second-team all-Eastern League honors last year, finally broke out of the hitting slump he has been in this season. Yesterday he went four for five with two doubles and a homer.
"I found my rhythm today." Rivera said. "I finally accepted my injury. I woke up this morning and realized I had to live with it." Rivera has suffered from tendonitis since early last summer an injury serious enough to shift him from third base to first.
Weller also swung the bat well yesterday, with two singles and a double to his credit. The team captain leads his squad in hitting with a 429 average and attributes his success to his ability to pull the ball more than he has in the past.
But fielding was Weller's biggest concern yesterday, as his team committed four errors. "In the [Eastern League] I don't think we can get away with four errors and expect to win," he said "It's great to be 6-0 I'd rather be 6-0 in the league." Game Winning RBI-Weller. E--Connors, Salustri, Kay 2, DiCesare, Marchok. LOB--Harvard 11. Massachusetts 11. 2B--Rivera 2, Weller, Comeau Ezold HR-Rivera. DePalo. SB-Connors, Salustri. HBP-Maspons by Clark. WP-Clark, Allard. PB-Ezold T-2:51 A--13
Game Winning RBI-Weller. E--Connors, Salustri, Kay 2, DiCesare, Marchok. LOB--Harvard 11. Massachusetts 11. 2B--Rivera 2, Weller, Comeau Ezold HR-Rivera. DePalo. SB-Connors, Salustri. HBP-Maspons by Clark. WP-Clark, Allard. PB-Ezold T-2:51 A--13
HBP-Maspons by Clark. WP-Clark, Allard. PB-Ezold
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