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The Harvard baseball team rode strong outings from a quartet of starting pitchers en route to a four-game sweep at last-place Brown--losers of 18 straight.
Senior Frank Hogan paced the staff with a one-hitter in Saturday's opener, and the remaining arms followed suit as sophomores James Kalyvas, Andrew Duffell and Don Jamieson all posted wins.
Harvard's (22-11, 14-2 Ivy) sweep, combined with Yale's four-game sweep of Dartmouth, gave the Crimson a two-game lead over the Bulldogs and a three-game lead over the Big Green in the Ivy League's Red Rolfe division.
Harvard 7, Brown 0
"I had control of my curve and my changeup all game, so I was able to keep changing speeds and keep them off balance," Hogan said. "I also had a lot of confidence in the defense behind me."
Looking positively Greg Maddux-like, Hogan (6-2) collected 17 groundball outs in the victory and notched a complete-game shutout, his first of the season.
The Crimson had offensive help from junior outfielder Brian Ralph and junior shortstop David Forst, both of whom added two-run home runs in a 13-hit attack.
Harvard 7, Brown 3
The Crimson kept up its fine hitting in the nightcap, breaking the game open with a three-run third inning. Sophomore second baseman Hal Carey's two-run single capped the rally, putting Harvard up to stay. Kalyvas, meanwhile, struck out seven in six innings of work, allowing just one earned run and improving to 4-0.
Harvard 5, Brown 3
The battery of Duffell and sophomore catcher Jason Keck combined to bury the Bears in yesterday's opener, as Duffell (5-0) survived three unearned runs in a messy fifth inning to record a complete-game two-hitter. Keck, 2-for-2 with three RBIs, delivered run-scoring singles in the second and the fourth.
"We weren't doing anything different this weekend," Keck said. "We were very successful at just putting the ball in play."
Harvard 5, Brown 2
The Crimson saved the drama for the fourth and final game of the series, clinching the sweep with a four-run seventh after a 1-1 pitchers' duel through six.
Ralph stepped up again, driving in the go-ahead runs with a two-run single following base hits by Keck and junior outfielder Aaron Kessler. Sophomore outfielder Andrew Huling doubled home Ralph for his team-best 27th RBI and senior first baseman Peter Albers plated Huling for his 26th.
Sophomore Garrett Vail came on in relief after Jamieson (3-2) allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh, and stranded two runners for his fourth save.
Harvard closes out the regular season at home against MIT on Wednesday, then finishes with home-and-home doubleheaders against Dartmouth over the weekend. A Crimson split against the Green would wrap up a second straight Red Rolfe title.
"It's nice to control your own destiny, and this team has a lot of confidence in itself," Hogan said. "I told my mother to buy playoff tickets early."
Crimson fans might do well to heed that advice.
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