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Games that mean this little aren’t supposed to be dramatic.
Maybe someone should tell that to the Harvard baseball team.
After losing a chance at the Ivy title in heartbreaking fashion over the weekend, the Crimson (21-17-1) rallied from a five-run deficit to surge past Holy Cross (14-21-1) 8-7 in 12 innings yesterday.
With the score knotted at 7-7 and runners on first and second in the 12th, Josh Klimkiewicz singled through the right side to score Trey Hendricks and give freshman Jason Brown (1-1) his first collegiate win.
“I was just thinking, ‘Stay back,’” Klimkiewicz said. “Everyone was getting in front of the ball, so I just went up there thinking, ‘Stay back, and slap it somewhere.’”
Brown was stellar in seven innings of relief—his longest outing of the season—allowing no runs on only two hits while striking out six Crusaders.
“I felt really good going in,” Brown said. “I felt good in the pen, and I was hitting my spots, which is the important thing.”
Brown entered the game with Harvard trailing 7-5 in the sixth, and with the right-hander and his side-armed delivery stemming the Holy Cross offense, the Crimson sluggers continued to chip away at the Crusader lead.
Klimkiewicz led off the bottom of the sixth by depositing a first pitch fast ball from Rob Oteri over the right field fence to pull Harvard within one, 7-6. It was Oteri’s first pitch of the ball game and Klimkiewicz’s third homer of the season.
Then with two out in the seventh, junior catcher Schuyler Mann tied the game with a solo shot off of Crusader reliever Jim McCloud.
With the homer—a 350-foot blast that easily cleared the fence in right—Mann has homered in five consecutive games, and has 11 long balls on the season, second only to Zak Farkes’ 14 in Harvard single-season history.
“We came out loose,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. “You know, they beat us early in the season, and they’re a better team now then they were then.”
The score stayed tied at 7-7 over the next five innings, as Brown continued to keep the Crimson in the game.
Holy Cross threatened to take the lead in the top of the 11th when a hit batsman, error and intentional walk loaded the bases with only one out, but Brown stayed calm and got out of the jam. First, he induced Jamie Aldrich to ground to Klimkiewicz at first, who fired home for the force out. Then Brown struck out Tom Potvin on a low breaking pitch to end the threat.
“You know, I was thinking [Brown] might be one of those guys that could come in, drop down and get through the lineup one time,” Walsh said. “But he got through the lineup four times today. I have a funny feeling that he’s going to leave Harvard with the record for most appearances.”
Finally, with the sun beginning to slip down in the sky after over three hours of baseball, the Crimson finished off the Crusaders.
With one out, Hendricks lifted a fly ball that fell into short right-center field between a convergence of purple jerseys for a double. Holy Cross then intentionally walked Mann to set up the double play and face Klimkiewicz, who knocked in the game-winner.
Two cheap hits off of Crimson starter Javi Arteaga—the first an infield single by McCloud and the second a texas league double off of the bat of Mike Marron—put runners on second and third with one out, and Mike Schell picked up both RBI with a single up the middle to bring the score to 4-2.
A single, a pair of walks and a bases loaded error on a potential double play ball brought the score to 7-2.
Arteaga got out of the inning with a pair of flyouts, but was relieved by Brown to open the sixth. The junior right-hander finished the afternoon having allowed six earned runs on five hits and five walks, after allowing only one hit in the first four frames.
“I thought that Arteaga did a nice job, though we didn’t play real well behind him,” Walsh said. “I thought we got good pitching today. You look at the box score and see seven runs in 12 innings, you might not think the pitching was good, but [it was].”
Harvard answered right back in the bottom of the inning, plating three runs to get back into the ball game.
Freshman backup catcher Drew Casey singled through the right side to lead off the inning, and advanced to third base on a pair of pitches in the dirt. Sophomore right fielder Lance Salsgiver then drove him in with a line drive to centerfield.
Sophomore shortstop Zak Farkes next stepped up and drove the first pitch he saw into deep centerfield off of the fence for a double to score Salsgiver. Farkes came around to score on a single by Hendricks that brought the score to 7-5.
Hendricks finished he day 3-for-6 to raise his team-best batting average to .429 and junior Ian Wallace also had three hits.
Harvard took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning. Wallace doubled to centerfield with one out and advanced to third on a fly ball by Casey. Wallace then scored when Holy Cross starting pitcher Drew Bigda threw a wild pitch over his catcher’s head and to the backstop.
The Crusaders answered back in the top of the third. After Arteaga’s full count offering to Marron went low for a walk, Bigda knocked a homer to right-center to give Holy Cross a 2-1 lead.
The Crimson tied the game up in the bottom of the inning when Salsgiver scored on an RBI-groundout by Farkes.
The victory improved Harvard to 10-2 at O’Donnell Field this year, and evened the season series at 1-1. The Crusaders came back from a 6-0 deficit to beat Harvard 10-7 at Fitton Field in the first meeting between the teams on April 7th.
The Crimson will conclude its season this afternoon when it hosts Northeastern at 3 p.m. at O’Donnell Field.
—Staff writer Lande A. Spottswood can be reached at email@example.com.
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