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Imagine you went into every one of your exams this week knowing that you would either get an A, or you would fail, depending on your performance. No middle ground. Imagine you had nine exams. Imagine if you failed every one.
That's how the Harvard baseball team must feel today, after dropping its eighth and ninth one-run games since returning from a Spring Break trip to Florida to Dartmouth on Saturday.
"Good teams...no, great teams win the close games," Captain Marcel Durand said. "We were a good team."
Harvard finished the season with a symmetrical 20-20 record overall, and an equally balanced 9-9 record in EIBL competition. It was the third consecutive year that the Crimson finished at .500 in league action, and this year it earned Harvard a tie for fifth place, five games behind champion Princeton.
For Durand, the team's only senior, Saturday's losses were especially difficult.
"It's not the way I wanted to end the season. It was a really bad feeling, having to walk off the field at the end."
That end came in the bottom of the eleventh inning of the night cap, when Dartmouth second baseman Tim Carey sent a Pete Rau offering into center field, scoring Cam McKennitt and Peter Hoffman, and giving the Big Green a 4-3 come-from-behind victory.
Junior pitchers Tom Hurley and Rau kept the Dartmouth bats in check throughout the game, enabling the Crimson to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the eleventh. Nick DelVecchio led off the inning with a single to second and went to third on Juan Zarate's single to right two batters later. Freshman Dave Morgan drove DelVecchio in with a sacrifice fly to give the Crimson a short-lived 3-2 lead.
Rau, who had worked out of three tough jams in the eighth, ninth, and tenth innings, quietly set down the first two batters in the bottom of the eleventh. And he had two strikes on McKennitt before McKennitt lined a 1-2 pitch into left field to keep the Big Green alive.
Designated hitter Peter Hoffman, who belted a solo home run in the fourth inning to give Dartmouth a 1-0 lead, then singled to left. That set the stage for Carey's two-run, game-winning single.
Carey's hit capped what had turned into a very long afternoon for the Crimson. Harvard, which entered Saturday's games with an unprecedented .360 team batting average, was able to muster only one run off Dartmouth hurler Bob Bennett in the opener. That run, a long home run by Mike Giardi to lead off the second inning, was almost enough, thanks to the outstanding pitching of junior Sean Johnston.
Johnston surrendered just two hits all afternoon, but the Big Green touched him up for two runs in the fifth inning, and that was all Dartmouth needed.
Dartmouth's Jamie Boswell drew a leadoff walk in the fifth which came back to haunt Johnston when left fielder Brendan Mahoney blasted a chin-high offering that scored pinch-runner John Tippett, and landed Mahoney on third. After center fielder Joe Tosone's fly to right failed to score Mahoney from third, McKennitt got the job done with his double.
That turned out to be enough for Dartmouth because Bennett was in the midst of carving a three-hit, 12 strikeout performance out of the Crimson.
"Bennett is a good pitcher," Durand said. "He has a great fork-ball...Next year, though, they're [Harvard] going to win those one-run games."
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