Despite already playing 22 games in its 2012 campaign, the Harvard baseball team still has yet to suit up for a contest at O’Donnell Field. But at long last, the Crimson returns to familiar territory Wednesday afternoon, opening its home season against crosstown competitor Boston College.
“We have our work cut out for us,” said freshman Zach Boden, who is currently tied for first on the team with a .333 batting average. “[BC] is a very good team…but we also know what we’re doing. It should be a pretty good game.”
And there’s more than just the typical Boston-area rivalry riding on the contest. The last time these two teams met, the Eagles (12-16, 4-8 ACC) stunned Harvard, 8-0, at Fenway Park in the finals of the 2011 Beanpot after the Crimson (3-19, 1-3 Ivy) edged UMass in the first round, 1-0.
“Even though we lost…the whole experience of playing at Fenway is something we’ll remember for rest of lives,” sophomore shortstop Jake McGuiggan said. “[But] to get to that championship game last year and lose 8-0 definitely crushed us. We want to bounce back from that.”
Last year’s struggling Harvard team entered its contest against the Eagles on the tail of a four-game split with Ivy foe Yale and went on to drop its final four games of the season, all against Dartmouth, to close out a 9-36 overall record for the year.
The Crimson—which began Ivy play this past weekend—experienced mixed results in its first four league contests of 2012, splitting games with Cornell before dropping two to Princeton despite amassing at least a one-run lead in three of the four games. But the Harvard team remains positive as it looks to snap its three-game losing streak on Wednesday.
“We haven’t gotten the results we wanted so far, but a lot of that has to do with playing a bunch of really good teams,” Boden said. “Going home and starting our Ivy schedule, we should definitely see better results. Most teams play way better at home, and we’re hoping to turn our schedule around.”
BC has also had its share of mishaps this year, losing 11 straight games in the month of March. The team currently sits fifth in the Atlantic division of conference competition, but the Eagles are an impressive 6-3 in their nine most recent contests.
“[BC] is in the ACC, which a lot of people say is a better baseball conference than the Ivy League,” McGuiggan said. “Even if they’re not at the top of their league, they’re still a very good team, [and] we’re looking forward to playing them.”
After the first weekend of Ivy play, Harvard sits tied with Dartmouth for second place in the Rolfe division, with every Ancient Eight team notching at least one loss in the opening weekend of league competition. The Crimson will take on Columbia and Penn at home a few days after Wednesday’s game.
“I think the way we play against BC, especially if we do well, can really get the ball rolling,” Boden said. “We hope it will give us momentum for our Ivy games this weekend.”
Against the Tigers and the Big Red last week, three Harvard players—sophomore outfielder Jack Colton, classmate Steven Dill, and senior designated hitter Marcus Way—each contributed at least five hits for a combined five RBIs. And according to McGuiggan, consistency on offense and defense will likely play a big role on Wednesday.
“We want to get out to an early lead [against BC] and have consistent pitching,” McGuiggan said. “Our offense has a lot of work to do as well…. We want to play a complete game: pitching, hitting, and on defense.”
The contest against the Eagles marks one of Harvard’s final opportunities to test itself against a non-conference opponent, as the Crimson heads into the heart of Ancient Eight play in the coming weeks. Harvard has just three more non-Ivy games on the schedule after it takes on the Eagles.
“Our 20 Ivy games are crucial, because they’re the only games that determine whether or not we get into the NCAA tournament,” McGuiggan said. “Ivy games are our focus, but whenever we play a midweek game we’re definitely looking to pick up a win, at least in part to prove to other teams that we’re a good team.”
Perhaps fittingly, Wednesday’s game will also serve as a preview for the first round of this year’s Beanpot, in which BC and Harvard are pitted against each other once again on April 10.
“We play [BC] twice in one week,” McGuiggan said. “[On Wednesday], we’ll see what they have and see how everything goes. That should give us an advantage going into the Beanpot.”
—Staff writer Catherine E. Coppinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rivalry Is Old, But BU Has EdgeWhen Boston University faces off against Boston College in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament Monday at the Boston
NOTEBOOK: Power-Play Efforts Can’t Stop EaglesCHESTNUT HILL, Mass.—It wasn’t all bad. The Crimson’s special teams managed to shut down five power-play opportunities for BC, who
Baseball Looks To Grab BeanpotThe last time the Harvard baseball team suited up for a game against UMass at LeLacheur Park, the Crimson was met with favorable results.
Baseball Continues Home Stand Versus Ancient Eight CompetitionThis weekend, the Crimson will square off against opponents Princeton and Cornell in a pair of doubleheaders at O’Donnell Field.
Baseball Off to Best 27-Game Start in Nine Years