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When Harvard and Princeton face off in the best-of-three Ivy Championship Series at Clarke Field this weekend, both squads will have something to prove.
The Crimson (19-21, 11-9 Ivy) wants to avenge a two-game Princeton sweep in last month’s regular-season doubleheader, and the Tigers (25-20, 15-5) a two-game Harvard sweep in last year’s ICS.
But then, there is always history with these two teams.
With the first pitch Saturday at noon, the rivals will have matched up in six of the last eight championship series. Harvard has won the last four.
Like last season—when the Crimson swept Princeton 5-1 and 2-1—this year’s ICS should be a series of pitching duels.
The Tigers boast senior Thomas Pauly—who was yesterday named a unanimous first team All-Ivy selection and one of the league’s top prospects.
As Princeton’s closer, Pauly has been virtually unhittable, finishing the regular season 5-1 with a 0.98 ERA.
“Pauly’s legit,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said after the righthander shut down the Crimson in both ends of this season’s doubleheader. “If you don’t get to the starter by the seventh or eighth inning, you are in trouble.”
Getting to the starters may be difficult.
Junior Ryan Quillian (5-4, 3.26 ERA) and sophomore Ross Ohlendorf (1-1, 3.41) combine to form a formidable one-two combination. Not to mention that Pauly made a rare start last weekend—throwing a four-hitter—in a meaningless game against Cornell, leaving speculation that he may get a start if needed.
“I think [playing small ball] is going to be huge,” freshman second baseman Zak Farkes said. “Our ability to execute in situations is going to be huge. I think it’s really going to come down to pitching, defense and timely hitting for us.”
Luckily, the Crimson should have the pitching to match up.
Along with captain and closer Barry Wahlberg, who was named first-team All-Ivy yesterday, Harvard has three legit, experienced starters. Due to the series being only three games, the loss of junior ace Trey Hendricks to injury will be less of a factor.
Senior Kenon Ronz (3-2)—who is coming off of a phenomenal game three performance against Dartmouth that kept Harvard’s season alive—threw well in his first meeting with Princeton. In the 2-0 loss, Ronz allowed only one earned run in 8.2 innings while striking out nine.
Freshman Matt Brunnig (3-3, 3.43) has been equally effective during the Ivy season, and according to Walsh, will pitch the first day with Ronz. Sophomore Mike Morgalis will start game three, if needed.
“I think we have three of the better pitchers that I’ve seen all year,” Farkes said. “I know that myself and the rest of the team have the utmost confidence in them.”
The trio won’t have to deal with a lineup as problematic as Harvard’s. The Tigers lineup is top heavy, and boasts a team batting average of only .265, 35 points lower than the Crimson’s beefy .300.
The lineup that managed only one run on eight hits in two games against Princeton last month has grown more confident—and more productive. The team’s freshmen are All-Ivy caliber players (Farkes, Lance Salsgiver and Josh Klimkiewicz were all honored yesterday).
“They’re going to see the same lineup, but our confidence is sky high,” Farkes said. “I think we are a completely different team.”
Harvard’s confidence was boosted by a two-game sweep of Dartmouth last Sunday that clinched the Red Rolfe division by a game. Princeton, meanwhile, coasted into the ICS, winning its eighth-straight Lou Gehrig division by a three-game margin.
A doubleheader will be played tomorrow beginning at noon, with game three scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. if necessary.
—Staff writer Lande A. Spottswood can be reached at email@example.com.
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