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For Harvard's baseball team, this past weekend's respective double-headers against Columbia and Penn were a bit like biting into the dining hall's version of eggplant parmesan: they didn't taste that bad, but there was an ineffable weirdness to them.
By all standard accounts, the Crimson (7-9 overall, 3-5 Ivy) didn't fare too poorly. Against the Lions (7-15 overall, 5-3 Ivy) on Saturday, a respectable if not incredible middle-division Ivy League squad, Harvard won the first game, 9-5, before dropping a close second contest, 8-6. Against a downright solid Quaker team (13-7 overall, 5-3 Ivy) on Sunday, the Crimson made a heroic comeback in the first game, only to lose 10-9, and then dominated the second game, 15-2.
Despite these respectable outcomes, however, most Harvard players were not particularly happy with their team's play.
"I don't think we're really pleased at all with how we did," captain Mike Giardi said. "It wasn't a disaster by any means, but I think there is the general feeling that we should have swept both games. We just gave up opportunities that good teams take advantage of. We've got some work ahead of us."
Freshman teammate Mike Hochenadel agreed with Giardi's assessment of the weekend.
"We just didn't play like we could have," Hochenadel said. "Columbia and Penn are not bad teams, but we could've beat them. We had some bright spots--we had good comebacks on both Saturday and Sunday, but we came up short on them when we could have won."
Going into the weekend, Columbia looked to be the worse of the two opponents.
But paced on the day by the hitting of right fielder Derek England and second baseman Jason Wynn, the Lions proved a surprisingly-strong challenge.
In the first game, Harvard got off to a quick start and never looked back. The Crimson scored three runs in the first and five in the second to take a 8-0 lead. Despite four Columbia runs in the final three innings, that lead held, as Harvard garnered a 9-5 win.
The Crimson was paced in the game in the hitting department by Giardi, who went two-for-four with three RBIs and one home run.
Harvard junior Jamie Irving (1-2) got the win on the mound, pitching left handed (he is ambidextrous) for five and one-third innings. Freshman reliever Frank Hogan picked up a save on the game.
The second game proved considerably more exciting than the first. This time, the Lions roared out to a quick lead, scoring two in the first and four in the fourth to take a 6-2 lead into the fifth inning.
The Crimson then mounted an impressive comeback, though, scoring four runs in the bottom half of the fifth to notch the score at six.
But these efforts would be for naught; Columbia scored two runs in the seventh inning to lock up the win.
"That second game against Columbia was a real hearbreaker," Giardi said. "You work that hard to come back, and then you blow it. We really should have won that game."
The Crimson were paced at the plate by junior right fielder Jamie Crowley, who went two for three in the game with four RBIs, a home run and a double.
Crimson freshman Tony Lancette was on the mound for Harvard throughout most of the game, giving up six earned runs in four innings. Hogan (0-2) pitched the last three innings of the game and picked up the loss, giving up two earned runs.
If anything, the disappointment of losing the second game on Saturday should have compelled the Crimson to come out against Penn on Sunday ready and rarin' for a sweep. But that was not to be the case: the squad started off poorly and gradually heated up throughout the day.
In the first game, the Crimson scored one run in the second inning to take a 1-0 lead.
The Quakers stormed back, however, in the middle innings, scoring five times in the fourth inning, four times in the sixth and one time in the top half of the seventh to take a 10-5 lead into the last half-inning of the game.
The Crimson mounted a heroic comeback attempt with four runs in that inning, but the lead held, 10-9.
Crowly again waved a big stick for Harvard. He went three for four with four RBIs, including a another home run and another double.
Crimson junior Scott Davidson (1-2) picked up the loss on the game, going five and one-third innings and giving up seven earned runs. Junior Ben Allen went the remainder of the way on the mound for Harvard.
"That was an exciting game," Hochendal said. "Penn is a good team, and we just about did it. We just fell short--sort of our bad luck."
Fortunately for the Crimson, luck--whether bad or good--played no part in the second game; Harvard led from start to finish in its most dominating performance of the season.
The Crimson scored four runs first, five in the second, three in the third, one in the fifth and two in the sixth to garner the 15-2 win.
Giardi put in the best of a number of outstanding Harvard performances in the contest. We went a remarkable five for five with five RBIs and one home run.
Sophomore Chip Harris (2-0) went the distance on the mound for the Crimson, giving up only two earned runs.
The Crimson will next be in action on Wednesday when they travel to Holy Cross for a non-league doubleheader.
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