BOSTON—On baseball’s most hallowed ancient turf, the irony of last night’s Harvard Beanpot championship win—the team’s first in 14 years—was the outstanding play of its brightest young stars.
Starter Jason Brown made the most of his Fenway Park pitching debut, hurling five innings of four-hit ball. It was an auspicious first career collegiate start for the sophomore, who yielded just two earned runs and struck out five.
“It felt great to get back out there,” Brown said. “Just like the high school days.”
Save for a brief interruption—Northeastern catcher Dan Milano’s second-inning two-run homer that ricocheted off the giant coke bottles above Fenway’s Green Monster—Brown mixed a first-pitch curveball and fastball for strikes, baffling Northeastern hitters all afternoon. Occasionally, he dropped down to throw a deceptive side-arm slider.
“I got a couple of strikeouts on it,” he said. “I got a couple of guys to hit some ground balls. My curveball got me ahead in the count a lot, so that was my go-to pitch today.”
All told, it was an important five innings for a squad that saved its normal pitching rotation for a crucial weekend series at Brown. Harvard coach Joe Walsh remained mum on the championship game starter until shortly before game time.
“My heart was beating when Coach Walsh told me,” Brown said, “but once I got out there and settled back down, it was kind of like riding a bike.”
Brown saved his finest pitching for the game’s critical turning point. With a Northeastern runner on first and two outs in the fifth, Huskies leadoff man Chris Emanuele popped a lazy fly to centerfield.
With Crimson centerfielder Matt Vance and two middle infielders closing in, the ball dropped in safely. Emanuele reached second for a double.
“He hung in there pretty good,” Walsh said of Brown. “And that’s what you’ve gotta do. You can’t hang your head when things don’t go your way all the time.”
A walk to Arman Sidhu loaded the bases, bringing up Huskies slugger Jeff Heriot with a chance to erase a 5-2 Harvard lead. Just pitches later, Heriot clapped his bat in frustration after striking out against Brown’s high heat.
“That,” punned Walsh, “was a By-You Fastball, a Louisiana Special right there.”
“The adrenaline was definitely flowing a lot during the game,” Brown said.
Freshman Matt Vance continued to impress coaches and teammates with exceptional poise at the plate.