UPDATED: April 14, 2015, at 2:56 a.m.
For UMass, the third time was the charm against Harvard.
A four-run fourth inning propelled the Minutemen to a 6-5 win and a spot in the Beanpot Championship. The visiting Crimson (16-16, 5-7 Ivy) had handily beaten UMass (9-11, 7-5 Atlantic 10) in two prior meetings over spring break in Florida, winning the two contests by a combined nine runs.
The loss means that Harvard will be unable to defend last year’s Beanpot title, which the team captured after shutting out the Minutemen in the finals, 3-0.
“Last year, being able to win the Beanpot was definitely a highlight of our season,” said sophomore first baseman Matt Hink. “This year, being the team with the target on our back, it was kind of tough to lose by one. It’s still a cool opportunity to play at Fenway and hopefully we can get out of it with a win.”
The Minutemen’s breakthrough came after the Crimson jumped out to a 3-0 lead following an RBI single by freshman John Fallon and two UMass wild pitches.
Freshman Noah Zavolas, making his first collegiate start, cruised through his first three innings of work for Harvard, only allowing one run while striking out two batters.
But the rookie would allow two singles to start the fourth before giving up a three-run home run to Minutemen right fielder Adam Picard to tie the ballgame.
Zavolas was then replaced by fellow first-year Dylan Combs, but left fielder Dylan Morris’ stealing of home gave UMass a one-run edge. The Crimson was stretched for pitching on Monday after using 10 different arms in the weekend series against Brown.
“It’s definitely difficult for any staff to deal with that many games in that few days, but it just takes each man to step up when he’s called on,” Rupp said. “It is really good for having a new outlook for each game because you have to be quick-minded.”
Harvard fought back after falling behind, picking up a run in the fifth on a bases-loaded walk and in the sixth on shortstop Drew Reid’s first collegiate home run.
The Crimson struggled to put together a big inning on Monday, something that has been somewhat of a trademark of the team this season. The offense was without starting second baseman and three-hole hitter Jake McGuiggan, who is second on the team in runs and RBIs, due to an injury the senior suffered against Brown.
“[Not having McGuiggan] definitely makes a difference,” Hink said. “While we have had guys stepping up, we didn’t have the best approach at the plate. We chased a lot of pitches out of the zone. You always feel comfortable with him up there.”
Combs started the bottom of the seventh inning but found himself out of the game before the end of the frame. Morris singled to start the inning, when Minutemen leadoff-hitter Kyle Adie drove in the game-tying run and ended Combs’ day.
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