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Despite dropping its first of four weekend games against rival Yale (22-15, 10-6 Ivy), 3-0, the Harvard baseball team (9-31, 5-11) rebounded to split Friday’s contests at O’Donnell Field, emerging victorious from the two teams’ second matchup by a score of 1-0.
Due to anticipated rain on Saturday afternoon, the first of two doubleheaders was played a day early on Friday afternoon. Two low-scoring pitching duels ensued, as both teams struggled from the plate.
HARVARD 1, YALE 0
A single up the middle of the field by senior centerfielder Dillon O’Neill—who went 2-for-4 in the game—catalyzed a series of strategic plays that led to the game’s winning run.
“This year we’re playing with the new aluminum bats,” freshman third baseman Jake McGuiggan said. “They don’t have as much pop as the old ones ... Sometimes we need to use the bunting game to manufacture runs.”
With O’Neill safely on first, Harvard’s next at-bat saw a sacrifice play by junior second baseman Jeff Reynolds help O’Neill advance to second base.
A fielding miscue by the Bulldogs allowed the senior to reach third base on the same play.
McGuiggan sealed the deal with another bunt, as the freshman squeezed O’Neill home to earn the RBI and put Harvard up by one.
“At that point, we hadn’t scored a run yet all day,” McGuiggan said. “It was really important for us to get at least one run on the board, even if it meant going for a suicide squeeze.”
“When Coach approached me about [the possibility of a squeeze], I knew it could have been the difference in the game,” McGuiggan continued. “It ended up being the difference. When we’re not scoring too many runs, any run we can get [is great].”
Though O’Neill would be the only runner on either team to cross home plate on Friday, Harvard earned six hits in the teams’ later matchup and committed zero fielding errors.
“The second game [against Yale] was one of the best ball games I’ve ever been involved in,” Walsh said.
On the mound, senior right-handed pitcher Max Perlman earned the win for the Crimson, striking out 10 batters out of the 31 he faced.
“Max was pitching exceptionally well,” Walsh said. “Around the sixth or seventh inning, he got his curveball going. I think they might have been able to chip away at him a little bit, but [Yale couldn’t beat him] once he got that curveball going.”
Perlman pitched Friday’s second game against the Bulldogs in its entirety, allowing only four hits in nine innings despite passing the 100-pitch mark in the eighth.
”His pitch count was high going into the last inning,” Walsh said. “I didn’t know if I was going to take him out ... When he said he wanted the ball, I said, ‘Great, let’s go with it.’”
With the win, Harvard evened the series, 1-1, heading into the final two contests of the weekend.
YALE 3, HARVARD 0
Three early runs on a walk and Harvard error put the Crimson in a deep hole, as the team dropped the opening game of this year’s Harvard/Yale series.
Senior pitcher Eric Eadington walked the first batter home after loading the bases in the first, and a fielding error allowed two more runs to score before the initial frame expired.
Though Yale senior pitcher Vinny Lally got off to a slow start, walking two Harvard batters to start the game, the Crimson was unable to capitalize.
Lally caught a Harvard runner leading on second base and struck out two batters to close the inning without a Crimson score.
“It was one of our worst first innings,” Walsh said. “Things got better after that.”
Despite the sluggish start, pitching was impressive on both sides, as Lally—who has yet to lose a game this year—struck out nine Harvard batters and Eadington earned seven strikeouts of his own. Both starters pitched for seven innings.
“In the first game, [there was] outstanding pitching,” Walsh said. “Eadington] lost the first game, 3-0, but a couple missed plays in the first inning [gave Yale the early lead].”
Though no runs were scored after the top of the first inning, Yale earned four hits on in the opening game of the series. Harvard earned its only hit in the fourth inning, as junior designated hitter Marcus Way singled up the middle.
“We only had one hit,” Walsh said. “It’s so discouraging for our bats at this time of year. I won’t take anything away from their pitcher ... He was tough, and we knew that but we had him on the ropes in the first inning [and didn’t capitalize].”
—Staff writer Catherine E. Coppinger can be reached at email@example.com.
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