The Harvard baseball team traveled to Macon, Ga. for a four-game weekend set with Mercer. The Crimson (5-3) was able to take three of the four games from the host Bears (9-8). This was the first three-game win streak for Harvard since April of 2012, when it took three out of four games from Ivy foe Brown.
“Getting into the warmer weather, we were definitely able to increase our offense this weekend,” senior infielder Jake McGuiggan said. “In the first three games [of the series], we scored 24 runs, which says a lot about how much our offense has improved.”
MERCER 7, HARVARD 1
The Bears were able to salvage the last game of the four-game set by holding the Crimson to only four hits on the day. Kyle Lewis and Devin Bonin hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the first for Mercer, and the Bears jumped on Crimson junior starting pitcher Nick Scahill for five runs in three and a third innings of work.
Harvard’s only run of the day came on senior leftfielder Jack Colton’s single in the fifth. Sophomore Kevin Rex provided his second strong relief appearance of the weekend, hurling three and two-thirds scoreless innings and recording two strikeouts.
Senior Eric Nyquist threw a complete game for the Bears to pick up his second victory of the season.
HARVARD 8, MERCER 7
Harvard won a wild one in the second game of its Saturday doubleheader. The Crimson took 1-0 and 3-1 leads, but the Bears answered back to tie it both times. After a four-run fourth inning gave Harvard a 7-3 lead, the Bears stormed back with a three-run fifth. Both teams added a run in the seventh, but senior closer Tanner Anderson slammed the door for the Crimson, striking out two in two innings of work to pick up his third save of the season. The Crimson offense had 12 hits on the day, highlighted by senior second baseman Jake McGuiggan’s double, home run, and three runs batted in.
“We knew especially that every run was going to matter and just [tried] to manufacture one at a time,” McGuiggan said. “I was fortunate enough to be in a couple situations where I was able to drive in a couple runs. I’m really glad we were able to hold on there.”
Starter Matt Timoney picked up the win for Harvard despite giving up six runs (three earned) in four and two-thirds innings.
HARVARD 6, MERCER 1
Propelled by a dominant performance from sophomore right-hander Nick Gruener, Harvard took the second game of the series. Gruener threw seven and a third innings, striking out four and surrendering just three hits and one run, which came on a Danny Edgeworth long ball.
“Their offense is probably one of the best lineups we’re going to face all year,” Gruener said. “I knew I had to, for the most part, get guys inside. I had to make sure I was locating [low and inside] as well as mixing up the off-speed [pitches]. I had to keep them off-balance the whole time because I knew if I left one over the middle, it [was] going over the fence.”
Sophomore Kevin Rex recorded the final five outs for the Crimson, and the offense gave Gruener two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and ninth. Senior center fielder Mike Martin hit the team’s first home run of the season in the seventh—a solo shot over the left field fence. Junior third baseman Mitch Klug had three hits, including a double, and drove in a run.
HARVARD 10, MERCER 6
The Crimson kicked off its weekend on the right foot, taking an early lead Friday afternoon and never looking back. The Harvard offense tagged Bears starter Ryan Askew for five hits and four runs, ending his day after he recorded just two outs. Junior right-hander Sean Poppen threw five innings for the Crimson, surrendering two runs while striking out nine.
Harvard was also active on the base paths, swiping six bags on eight attempts. Klug led the way for a balanced offensive attack hitting out of the five-hole, with pairs of hits, runs, RBIs, and stolen bases on the day. Martin reached base three times, scored twice, and had a triple.
“This was a really important weekend for us,” McGuiggan said. “We’re going into the spring break trip with a 5-3 record and it’s a great start for us. We’re already just about at half the amount of wins we had all last season. That just says a lot about how much we’ve improved.”
—Staff writer Stephen J. Gleason can be reached at email@example.com.
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