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As March began, Harvard coach Joe Walsh knew he had a lot of pitchers, but he wasn’t quite sure which four would be his Ivy League starters. Over a month later, he still doesn’t know.
With freshman phenom Matt Brunnig sitting out the weekend with a sore right shoulder, the Crimson’s fourth starter for its Ivy opening weekend is “to be announced.”
“[Walsh] said it would be up in the air,” sophomore pitcher Mike Morgalis said. “It will depend on who he uses for relief the first three games.”
Morgalis and junior Trey Hendricks will start the first and second game of tomorrow’s doubleheader at Penn. Senior Kenon Ronz will get the nod for game one at Columbia on Sunday.
But after that, Walsh doesn’t know what he’ll do.
In anticipation of Brunnig’s absence, Walsh divided the innings of Wednesday’s rain-shortened, 3-0 loss to Rhode Island between senior Brendan Reed and freshman Wes Cosgriff, so that both would be available to throw this weekend.
No matter who starts, though, the bullpen may be vital.
Morgalis and Ronz—the team’s top two starters entering the spring—have struggled through the first third of the season, compiling ERAs of 7.80 and 9.69, respectively.
The Ivy League season may be a relief for both.
In his last two starts Morgalis is 0-1, with a loss to Rutgers and a no decision against No. 13 Miami. Both teams are good bets to reach the NCAA tournament.
“I wasn’t locating very well with my pitches,” Morgalis said. “And against teams like Miami and Rutgers, if you don’t throw the ball where you intend to, then you aren’t going to last long.”
Harvard’s most consistent pitcher this season has been Hendricks. The righthander—who doubles as the Crimson’s first baseman and RBI machine—is 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA. His most impressive performance was a seven-inning, two-earned-run gem against emerging power Florida International.
But anytime a team plays 32 innings in two days, fresh arms are crucial. Luckily—with 19 pitchers on its roster—Harvard should have plenty of them.
“We’ve got enough arms that I feel good,” Walsh said before the season began. “When we go four games on the weekend and go during the week, we have to have a lot of pitchers.”
Last year, Harvard’s opening weekend rotation had almost as many question marks.
The squad had a 1-3 mark in the 2002 Columbia-Penn series. The games were a series of slugfests, but the Harvard offense could not quite keep up.
This year, the bats should be ready. Sparked by freshman additions Zak Farkes, Josh Klimkiewicz and Lance Salsgiver, as well as the return of senior Brian Lentz, the Crimson has a team batting average over .300.
“[The freshmen] haven’t been intimidated by the good teams we’ve played,” Morgalis said. “If you look at the box score for the Miami game (which Harvard lost 10-9 in extra innings), it was the freshmen that were leading the way.”
The Crimson will begin its home Ivy season next weekend, when it hosts Princeton and Cornell. Harvard will play a doubleheader against each team.
—Staff writer Lande A. Spottswood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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