Just days after a weekend sweep of reigning Ivy League champion Princeton—a series highlighted by a dramatic 11-run comeback in the very first contest—the Harvard baseball team (9-9-1) got fed an uncanny bit of its own medicine yesterday, falling 10-7 to Holy Cross (4-14-1) at Fitton Field.
On Sunday, the Tigers had cruised to a dominant 6-0 advantage over the Crimson in the first few innings, only to see that lead ultimately squandered away in an 10-7 defeat. Yesterday, although the actors may have been different, the script was eerily still the same.
This time, it was the Crimson who jumped out to a seemingly auspicious 6-0 lead, but it was Holy Cross who played the role of Harvard—promptly scoring ten times to erase the deficit and send the real Crimson packing.
In a sense, it was reciprocity in its most upsetting form.
“We slacked off,” sophomore third baseman Zak Farkes said. “No one’s happy about it, but everyone understands what went wrong.”
Harvard had pulverized the Crusaders in a 19-3 drubbing last year, and, by all accounts, Holy Cross was a team that everyone expected to be very neatly put away once again.
“We probably came in with too much confidence,” said junior catcher Schuyler Mann, who went 2-5 with a triple and three RBI. “They stole one from us. Today was just a bad game on our part. We didn’t close it out when we could have.”
Entering the bottom of the fourth, the Crimson had already collected six runs on a collective five-RBI effort by Farkes, Mann and co-captain centerfielder Bryan Hale. Sophomore left fielder Chris Mackey scored the sixth run on an error in the third.
The Crusaders, on the other hand, had barely even grazed sophomore pitcher Javier Castellanos, managing just one hit off the Harvard starter.
“We were playing our game in the beginning: hitting, running, stealing bases, doing our thing,” Farkes said. “We thought that would be the end.”
But Harvard slept while Holy Cross’s Tom Potvin singled to start a three-run bottom of the fourth—and when the Crusaders’ five-run seventh inning finally came around to complete the come-from-behind victory, it was too late for the Crimson to reverse the trend.
“That’s how baseball goes,” Farkes said. “A couple of walks, a couple of hits, and they pulled ahead. They got momentum late, and we weren’t able to check it.”
After the second inning, the Crusaders had cycled out starter Keith Simard in favor of a more off-speed pitcher, Matt Blake, who did exactly what Harvard couldn’t—shut the door. In seven innings of relief, Blake quietly surrendered just two runs, one earned, on six hits.
“They changed pitchers, and we didn’t do a very good job of sitting back and doing what we had been doing [to succeed],” Mann said. “It was slower pitching, and it got tougher for us to be patient and wait—we got anxious, and we were getting ourselves out while they were stringing together these dinky hits for one big inning.”
With this weekend’s Ivy series beginning with the home opener against Columbia on Friday, one must look at the positives that can be gained from such a loss—a game where everything that was supposed to happen, didn’t.
“You know, sometimes you need a game like that,” Farkes said. “We were definitely the better team. But sometimes it’s best that you wake up, and put yourself in a good position. Especially with the weekend that’s coming up.”
—Staff writer Pablo S. Torre can be reached at email@example.com.