Baseball teams across the nation are itching to get back on the diamond after the break, and the time has finally come.
The Harvard baseball team kicked off its 2018 campaign with a four-game set at Samford last weekend in Birmingham, Ala. The Crimson looked to begin its quest to improve upon last year’s 19-23 season with a fast start, but the Bulldogs (5-3) took three of four games to temporarily slow Harvard (1-3) down.
“First of all, it was absolutely amazing to be out on the field after all the work we’ve put in in the fall and a couple weeks in the spring,” said sophomore pitcher Kieran Shaw, who made his first career start against Samford. “It was awesome just to be out there with the guys, playing baseball, just being at the field in that environment, throwing the baseball around outside in some nice weather.”
The two teams treated fans to copious helpings of extra baseball upon the Crimson’s arrival at Joe Lee Griffin Field on Friday afternoon. Not only was a doubleheader scheduled, but both games went extra innings, forcing the squads to eventually play 25 total innings of baseball in one day. The two teams split Friday’s doubleheader before a drained Harvard squad lost both of Saturday’s games to drop the series.
“The first weekend is always a readjustment and a ‘get-adjusted’ period for any team, especially when coming out of the Northeast and playing in the bubble,” Shaw said. “We learned a lot of things about ourselves.”
At the end of the 2017 season, Samford was ranked 102nd on the NCAA Div. I RPI rankings, while the Crimson was ranked 189th. This weekend marked the first-ever meetings between the two teams.
SAMFORD 3, HARVARD 1 (SEVEN INNINGS)
The tail end of Saturday’s double-header was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was stacked on top of Saturday’s game due to weather. As tired as both teams were, the contest went the way of the Bulldogs, as Samford’s pitching duo of sophomore Hamp Skinner and junior Connor Burns held Harvard’s offense to just three hits once again.
“The first day, we had a lot of energy, but that’s something we need to work on coming into the second day of the series, as our bodies are tired and we might not be mentally a sharp,” Shaw said. “We’ve got to be able to come back strong, both physically and mentally.”
The Crimson’s lone run came off the bat of junior catcher Devan Peterson, who singled to right center to plate freshman DH Buddy Hayward.
Junior pitcher Kevin Stone, who went 4-2 and pitched the second-most innings on the team last year, tossed six innings of three-run ball, giving up eight hits and three walks. Stone was credited with the loss.
Hayward, for his part, went 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored.
SAMFORD 8, HARVARD 0
Game one of Saturday’s doubleheader gave Harvard a preview of the pitching dominance that rolled over into the last game of the series.