The lesson of yesterday's double-header between Army and Harvard at O'Donnell Field is that baseball is far from predictable.
Indeed after Harvard (31-14) handed Army(26-19-1) a 12-1 drubbing in the opening game of a best-of-three play-in for the NCAA Regional Tournament, any reasonable prognosticator with little knowledge of the ups and downs of baseball would have predicted a clean sweep.
But it was not to be, as the Cadets battled back for a 6-5 win in the nightcap, forcing a deciding third game this afternoon.
In the opener, Harvard's bats were out in force for the second straight game. Four days after battering Princeton pitching for 22 runs in the clincher of the lvy League Championship Series, Harvard's hitters cleared the fence three times to give sophomore starter Andrew Duffell (7-1) the complete-game victory. The big blow was three-run homer in the second inning by sophomore Todd Harris.
The Crimson actually pounded out more hits in the nightcap--11, versus 10 in the opener-but its infield committed two costly errors in the eighth inning to help Army scrap out a 6-5 win.
Harvard 12, Army 1
If any criticism can be made about Harvard's performance yesterday, not being ready is not one of them.
After a scoreless first, Harvard put up a four-spot in the second and never looked back. Captain Peter Albers lead off the inning by driving a 1-2 pitch from junior southpaw Scott Weiss into the bushes just to the right of the 415-foot sign in dead center field.
Five batters later, with two outs and two on, Weiss once again made the mistake of throwing too made the mistake of throwing too meaty of a pitch ahead in the count. Harris sent the 0-2 delivery over the fence in left field for a three-run home run.
At that point, the outcome of the game was placed into the able hands of Duffell. One day after being named to the All-Ivy Second Team, Duffell proved his worth, scattering seven hits over nine innings for the win. With a substantial lead for much of the game, Duffell was never really in trouble, mowing down 10 straight Cadets at one point.
"The breaking ball was there right from the start and I think it was in their heads for most of the ballgame," Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. "Once we got the big inning, things just started going our way."
Army's lone run came in the top of the seventh, when junior Chris Kirk poked a hanger over the fence in left-center field.
The run was inconsequential at that point, as Harvard had already padded its lead with five runs in the sixth.
After the Crimson loaded the bases with one out, sophomores Jason Keck, Peter Woodfork and junior David Forst each drove one in to give Harvard on 8-0 lead. Forst later scored on a wild pitch for the Crimson's ninth run.
Junior Aaron Kessler added a three-run homer to center in the eighth.