First, the Crimson dispatched Northeastern by a smooth 8-5 score, sending to next week’s consolation game “the best team,” according to Walsh, that “we’ve beaten this year, in my estimation.”
Then the coach testified to the allure of a shiny relic.
“That trophy’s been sitting next to me since I got it, and it hasn’t moved,” he said, referring to the Beanpot, which Harvard captured last year for the first time. “And I’m hoping to look at it next year, you know?”
The Crimson (15-13-1) did not trail after senior Josh Klimkiewicz’s first-inning homer gave freshman lefthander Hampton Foushee a 2-1 lead.
Klimkiewicz, a native of Lexington, Mass., and 2002 graduate of Boston’s BB&N; High School, shot a 1-1 inside fastball through the glove webbing of a leaping Chris Emanuele—“I’ll take it,” Klimkiewicz said—beyond the left-centerfield fence.
The homer, Klimkiewicz’s team-leading sixth, reversed the game’s early momentum after an uneasy top of the first for Foushee.
“When Klim got that home run and we took the field,” Walsh said, “it was a completely different feeling going out there 2-1. And he crushed that.”
The rest of Harvard’s heart of the order—senior right fielder Lance Salsgiver (2-for-3, three runs), sophomore third baseman Steffan Wilson (3-for-5, two RBI), and notably, senior designated hitter Matt Brunnig (1-for-2, two RBI)—took care of the rest.
Wilson did his damage in the fifth inning, shooting a rocket down the first base line for a one-out, run-scoring double.
The Huskies (15-15) had caught Harvard sophomore Matt Vance trying to swipe third on the previous play, erasing the possibility of an extra run. But Brunnig knocked in Wilson with an opposite-field rope.
“All you really need is someone to be like, ‘Hey, this guy’s hittable,’” said Wilson of Northeastern hurler Trevor Smith, whose sparkling 2.12 ERA was ruined by four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. “And then everyone starts to hit.”
Brunnig, who also executed a textbook suicide squeeze in the third inning, notched his seventh RBI of the season in just his 35th at-bat.
Brunnig’s first three years were marked by inconsistency as an ambidextrous pitcher, but the senior has found success this season as both a right-handed starter and a valuable hitting option.
“He’s coming along, you know?” Walsh said. “We’re trying to take what he’s been doing in [batting practice] onto the field, but we’re staying with him because he’s having such good at bats.”
While Harvard converted on its many opportunities at the plate, Foushee shined on the mound in the first start of his Harvard career.
Only a relatively low work threshold—Walsh allowed the freshman 72 pitches—prevented Foushee from completing the fifth inning and earning his first collegiate win, which instead went to submarining reliever Jason Brown.
Foushee consistently fired his fastball for first-pitch strikes, mixing in a diverse repertoire of breaking balls late in counts. Walsh conceded that the lefthander’s normal out pitch, a slow changeup, was not even at its best.
Nevertheless, the time was right, according to Walsh, for Brown to replace Foushee in the fifth inning.
But Walsh said that “my heart was saying, ‘Get Hampton one more inning so we can get [him] the win.’”
The Huskies capitalized on Brown’s failing control in the seventh, then loaded the bases on a walk by Harvard reliever Jake Bruton.
But Bruton induced a fly ball to senior Chris Mackey in left to end the seventh, preserving the three-run lead.
Sophomore righthander Shawn Haviland, the staff ace, pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings in relief, substituting live work for his usual midweek bullpen session.
“It’s kind of neat; I don’t get to close many games,” Haviland said. “I love being out there in game action.”
Harvard will hit the stretch run of its Ivy League schedule with a pair of home doubleheaders against Brown this weekend.
And then on Tuesday, the Crimson will play at Fenway Park, one of baseball’s storied venues, for a chance to defend its city-wide bragging rights.
The Crimson will meet Boston College, which beat UMass 11-3 in last night’s Fraser Field nightcap.
“It’s going to be unbelievable under the lights out there,” Wilson said. “It’d be great to win two in a row and maybe start a dynasty-type deal, you know?”
—Staff writer Alex McPhillips can be reached at email@example.com.