The senior class carried the Harvard baseball team this weekend as four regulars and three pitchers left their mark in their last games at O'Donnell Field.
The elders kept the Crimson close in every game before younger reserves provided ninth-inning heroics in the rubber match of the Ivy League championship series against Princeton to give Harvard its third consecutive title in the Ancient Eight.
Peter Woodfork returned to second base in the second game after a sore elbow restricted him to designated-hitter duties while freshman Faiz Shakir filled in at second in the first game.
Woodfork robbed Princeton senior center fielder Jason Koonin of a base hit with a leaping catch just minutes after taking the field and made a diving save later in the game without aggravating his elbow.
"I felt comfortable," Woodfork said. "I could have played in the first game, too, but Coach didn't want me out there. I felt fine and I didn't have to make many throws which was good for my elbow."
Woodfork was even better at the plate. In the second game, trailing 7-3 and facing senior righthander Jeff Golden with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth, he smacked a ground ball up the middle that drove in two runs to cut the lead in half. He reached third base and represented the tying run when junior designated hitter Jeff Bridich ended the game on a grounder to shortstop.
"I was just trying to hit the ball hard," Woodfork said. "I know I'm not a home run hitter but we needed runs and I had to do something with the bases loaded."
Woodfork also doubled and scored in the third inning. In the third game, he was three-for-five and, in the first game, he had two hits and an RBI.
But the star of the first game was Woodfork's classmate, catcher Jason Keck.
With the score knotted at 5-5 in the top of the sixth and the bases juiced, Keck ripped a double down the right field line against Princeton senior righthander Howard Horn.
In the bottom of the frame, with two runners on for Koonin, the Tiger leadoff hitter who homered in the second game, Keck caught a pitch from senior righthander Donny Jamieson and rifled it to Woodfork at second base to pick off Princeton junior catcher Buster Small and end the inning.
Keck and Woodfork outsmarted Princeton base runners in the fourth inning of the second game. With Tigers at the corners, Princeton senior third baseman Chris Loving tried to swipe second base. Keck fired to Woodfork, who cut off the throw and returned the favor to Keck. That forced Tiger senior first baseman Matt Evans into a rundown between home and third, and it was fitting that Keck finally applied the tag.
Keck rose to the occasion in the third game, going three-for-four with one RBI. He started Harvard's title-winning rally in the top of the ninth when he singled to right field.
"In the bottom of the eighth while I was catching, I was thinking that this could be last game, and my last at-bat for Harvard," Keck said. "But then I blocked it out of mind. When I came up I just did the things at the plate that I always do-stay back and try to drive the ball up the middle."
Captain Hal Carey's biggest contribution came in the first game. The senior third baseman continued his tear at the plate, hitting his third home run in two games in the top of the fifth. That came after Princeton had grabbed a 5-2 lead and sparked a three-run rally that pulled the Crimson even.
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