THE PROMISED LANDE: Clutch Play Key to Harvard's Rolfe Division Lead

Jessica A. Hui

Somewhere, Bill James and his spawn are flinching at the very idea of Ivy League baseball.

In the big leagues, the season is so long that the laws of probability almost ensure that skill is rewarded in the end. That’s the beauty of it.

In the Ivy League, the season is so short that the baseball gods almost ensure that skill is not enough. That’s the beauty of it.

You’ve got to be clutch.

Harvard’s lineup has guys that are capable of putting the ball in the trees every time they step to the plate. Batting practice is magical. They’ve got skills.

But that’s not why the team is a league-best 10-2, alone in first place, and two more good weekends away from an Ivy Championship Series berth.

Harvard’s not in first because it’s been good. Harvard’s in first because it’s been clutch.

That’s the beauty of it.

In Game 1, junior Frank Herrmann faced off against Bulldog starter Alec Smith in what quickly became a pitcher’s duel. Through the first five innings, Harvard and Yale combined for only four hits. But finally, in the sixth, the middle of the lineup got it done.

Consecutive singles from three guys who know all about Ivy stretch runs—Lance Salsgiver, Zak Farkes and Josh Klimkiewicz—followed by a two-RBI double from Steffan Wilson, a freshman who’s learning quickly, broke the game wide open.

“I knew we were going to score,” Herrmann said. “It was just a matter of when we’d get the runs.”

Harvard won, 4-0.

In Game 2, senior Mike Morgalis gutted through eight innings, before leaving with the Crimson trailing 4-0. But in the bottom of the frame, it started.

Brendan Byrne—who had entered the game the inning before—singled. Klimkiewicz was hit by a pitch, and Rob Wheeler walked. The slumping captain Sky Mann—bumped down to seventh in the lineup for both games that day—crushed an inside fastball over the trees in left center field to tie the game.

In the ninth, he hit a 415 ft. walk-off double to end it.

“We know that we’re going to score eventually.” Morgalis said. “I knew that as long as I kept it close, we’d have a shot at the end.”