On Saturday, April 6th, Yale took O’Donnell Field in the top of the ninth inning with its victory over Harvard seeming inevitable. With a comfortable 8-1 lead, the Bulldogs needed to record just three more outs to secure a win in the first game of the day’s doubleheader. But the third out never came.
Despite not playing their best baseball in the first eight innings of this contest, the Crimson ballplayers were not ready to give up just yet.
“Things just spun out of control in a couple of innings,” junior pitcher Kieran Shaw offered. “[But] back in the dugout in the bottom of the ninth, we were saying, ‘If there’s a time, why not now?’ We just wanted to go get it — and after a couple of guys got a couple of hits, there was no telling what could happen.”
Senior infielder Edwin Owolo lead off the bottom of the inning, punch hitting for junior infielder Quinn Hoffman. Owolo worked a walk, and ended up scoring after junior pitcher Hunter Bigge drew a base-on-balls with the bases juiced. Bigge then scored when junior infielder Chad Minato knocked a two-run single, bringing the score to 8-4.
“We just went up there aggressive in the ninth inning, and we got guys on,” said Owolo, the Norwalk, Conn., native. “We started making things happen, and there’s no telling what we can do when we get hot.”
Minato scored off of a single from senior outfielder Ben Skinner, and senior catcher Devan Peterson also contributed an RBI single, closing the deficit to just 8-6.
Harvard batted around, but recorded two outs in the process. Down to its last life, the team watched in agony as sophomore infielder Buddy Mrowka patiently worked a walk in what was arguably the most crucial at bat of the entire inning.
With Mrowka on, the bases were juiced once again. This time, it was senior first baseman Patrick McColl who took the plate. McColl was the leading hitter in the entire Ivy League at the time (as of May 18) he is the second-leading hitter in the Ancient Eight and the thirteenth in the entire nation). And he was not ready to slow down. As the Crimson watched in awe from the dugout, McColl crushed a grand slam over the right-centerfield fence to propel Harvard to a walk-off 10-8 victory.
“That was definitely the greatest thing that I’ve experienced in a Harvard Crimson uniform,” commented Owolo, who was at a loss for words. “Nobody really could have scripted that. It was insane.”
The team rushed out of the dugout in euphoria to mob their savior at the plate. One would almost forget that there was still one more game to be played — a game that Harvard would end up winning in a 3-0 shutout.
“That was crazy,” offered McColl, who was just awarded Google Cloud CoSIDA Academic All-District recognition for players who excel both on the field and in the classroom. “It was the most fun baseball day, probably ever.”
The fairytale comeback was indicative of a truly storybook season for Harvard Baseball. The 26-13 overall record boasted by this year’s team is by far the top record in recent memory, and the 15-7 conference record was good for first place in the Ivy League this season. The comeback for the ages against Yale was just one link in what has truly become a season to remember for Harvard Baseball.