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.