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Harvard Baseball Hands Texas A&M Its Fourth Series of the Season

In April of 2022, a Harvard baseball player takes at-bat against Brown, where the Crimson scored two of three wins. The 2023 team is set to open Ivy play this weekend after losing its fourth consecutive series of the season.
In April of 2022, a Harvard baseball player takes at-bat against Brown, where the Crimson scored two of three wins. The 2023 team is set to open Ivy play this weekend after losing its fourth consecutive series of the season. By Dylan J. Goodman
By Jack Canavan, Crimson Staff Writer

The Harvard baseball team continued its uneasy start to the 2023 season in a series against Texas A&M this past weekend, dropping its fourth consecutive series so far this year. The Crimson, having traveled to Florida to face Florida Atlantic University (FAU) earlier in the week, took a trip down to Corpus Christi in Texas for another road series.

Matching up for four games against the Aggies, Harvard hit a season-low point, losing its March 16 opener 24-3 and extending its longest losing streak of the season to eleven games.

Bouncing back for Friday's doubleheader, Harvard played more competitive ball after losing the first game 5-4, finally breaking the losing streak at 12 games with a 7-3 victory later that day.

After Friday’s uplifting win, the Crimson wasn’t able to build any more momentum, as Texas A&M closed the door on Harvard in the series’ final game, with the Crimson falling 5-3 and bringing its season record to (2-14) overall.

Having played all its games on the road thus far and finding success sparingly, the Crimson will hope to alter its away game formula before traveling to Philadelphia, Pa. to begin Ivy League play against the University of Pennsylvania.

“We have a good club and we haven't played well for whatever reason,” head coach Bill Decker said. We gotta rally within and play for one another and hopefully we’ll see better results moving forwards.”

Game 1: Harvard 3, TAMCC 24 // 7 Innings

The Crimson bats were alive in the first inning of Thursday’s opener against Texas A&M. Leadoff hitter junior Peter Messevery opened the inning by ripping a single on the first pitch of the game. After two quick strikeouts by George Cooper and Ben Rounds, senior clean-up hitter Logan Bravo swept Messervy off first base and into home plate, homering to right center to put Harvard up 2-0 before third baseman Jake Berger struck out to end the inning.

Unfortunately, the Aggie bats exponentially outweighed anything Harvard could put forward for the rest of the game. Scoring a run off a wild pitch in the bottom of the first, Texas A&M scratched the scoreboard in the first, cutting the Crimson’s short-lived lead to 2-1 to end the first inning.

Harvard entered and exited the top of the second in 1-2-3 fashion, grounding out twice before senior Hunter Baldwin struck out swinging to send the Crimson back into the field.

First-year Callan Fang, after making two strong appearances against FAU, struggled with control during his start against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Fang threw his second of four wild pitches on the day during the second early in the bottom of the second, allowing Texas A&M’s Christian Smith Johnson to advance to second plate after hitting a single off Fang. With a runner in scoring position, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi proceeded to slash a trifecta of singles to drive in two runs, finishing the second by taking the lead for the first time in the game at 3-2.

The Crimson underwent another quiet inning at the plate in the third, with the exception of Senior George Cooper reaching base on an error before being left stranded at first. The Aggies came up flat as well, leaving the third inning with a 3-2 lead on Harvard entering the fourth.

The top of the fourth saw the Crimson get runners in scoring position on a quick from Logan Bravo, a walk by junior third baseman Jake Berger, and a wild pitch that moved both runners into scoring position on second and third. Three straight strikeouts vanquished any hopes the Crimson had of capitalizing on this opportunity.

Things headed south fast for the Crimson in the bottom of the fourth. Fang continued to struggle with control early in the inning, walking a runner and throwing another wild pitch before an error by Berger opened the door for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to score their fourth run of the day. Leaving a man on first, Fang was replaced by senior James Kirkpatrick with one out in the inning. In a blur, Texas A&M began an offensive onslaught on Kirkpatrick, scoring six runs before the Harvard pitcher was pulled without retiring a single batter. On the day, Fang finished the game with 3.1 IP and 5 ER, while Kirkpatrick was replaced by senior Pryor Thomas, ending the day with 0 IP and 5 ER.

The Crimson had another tough inning at the plate in the fifth, with three quick outs leaving Messervy stranded on second.

The runs continued to pile up for Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the bottom of the fifth, as Thomas had no better luck than his predecessors in retiring Texas A&M-Corpus Christi batters, allowing five more runs and pushing the score to 15-2 for the Aggies.

Harvard had a brief upwind in spirit in the top of the sixth, with Junior Chris Snopek hitting the Crimson’s first home run of the game and cutting the deficit to 15-3.

When the Crimson took the field, Texas A&M didn’t take its foot off the brake — Using an assortment of pitchers, Harvard allowed nine runs in the bottom of the sixth, exiting the inning with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi leading 24-3.

The Crimson ended the game early without another score in the seventh inning by slaughter rule.

Game 2: Harvard 4, TAMCC 5

Harvard rebounded to play a wire-to-wire game on Friday night, losing in crushing fashion on a walk-off by Texas A&M in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Putting Thursday’s game in the past, Decker emphasized the team’s ability to “have a little bit of resilience” being “able to move on or this game will get to you”.

Bats blazing, the Crimson began the game with a bang. After Messevery reached first on a single out of the leadoff hole on a walk, Junior outfielder Ben Rounds cleared the fences on the next at-bat on an (0-1) count, putting Harvard up 2-0. Senior Logan Bravo also reached base on a single before three consecutive outs closed an eventful top of the first.

Texas A&M carried over their hot hitting from Thursday's game to the bottom of the first, putting two runners in scoring position to open the first before scoring a run off Harvard starter, junior Jay Driver. The Crimson left the first with a 2-1 lead.

The third provided little offensive action for either front. Harvard first-year infielder and pitcher Gio Colosante reached base on a walk with two down before the Crimson took the field. Driver began a spotless five-inning stretch from the second to sixth by retiring Aggie batters in 1-2-3 fashion in the bottom of the second.

Harvard immediately mirrored Texas A&M’s quick exit at the plate in the top of the third, compiling three straight outs and sending Driver right back out to the mound, where he continued to dominate the Texas university, closing the third at 2-1.

Harvard’s hitters broke the lull in scoring in the top of the fifth. With one down, Messevery ripped a double to left center to give the Crimson a runner in scoring position, and after a flyout by Rounds, Bravo drove Messervy into home off an error committed by Texas A&M, extending the Crimson lead to 3-1.

Driver continued his dominant start in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings. As Crimson hitters went silent in the sixth, Driver allowed no breathing room for Texas A&M, compiling two shutout innings to close the day with 6.0 IP, 1ER and 6SO, exiting the game in position for the win.

“He’s a quality arm that we have and probably one of the better ones in New England.” Decker said. “His performance on Friday was really good.”

Driver’s pitching was deeply missed as the game progressed. After another silent inning Harvard at the plate, the Crimson handed the ball to Senior Tim Williamson to replace Driver at the mound. After getting a ground out from his first batter of the inning, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi hit hard against Williamson, scoring a run and placing a runner on third off a couplet of hits and a wild pitch. A Texas A&M single brought in the runner from third, tying the game at 3-3 before Williamson loaded the bases and exited the game with 0.1 IP and 3 ER. Senior Harrison Stover replaced Williamson to close out the seventh, minimizing the potential damage by only allowing one unearned run on a wild pitch and retiring three Texas A&M-Corpus Christi hitters quickly to end the inning with Harvard falling behind for the first time in the game at 3-4.

The eighth inning kept the same excitement going. Following a strikeout by Bravo, Rounds hit a double to center and advanced to third on a wild pitch by the Aggies. Sophomore Sawyer Feller joined Bravo on the basepath with a walk, giving the Crimson runners on the corners with only one out in the inning before Feller stole second to put two runners in scoring position. Unfortunately, a pop-up and strikeout by Harvard closed any opportunity to capitalize on this scoring chance.

Stovern stayed in to shut out Texas A&M-Corpus Christi hitters in the eighth before sending the Crimson up to the plate for a final chance to save the game in the ninth.

For a moment, it seemed as if the Crimson did just that — with Colasante reaching first on an error, Harvard drove in an unearned run through singles by Berger and Rounds, tying the game at 4-4.

In heartbreaking fashion, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a fielder's choice.

Game 3: Harvard 7, TAMCC 3

Bouncing back quickly for the second game of the day, the Crimson stayed hungry to avenge its loss only hours before, doing just that, and maintaining steady control.

Harvard continued its opening-inning hot streak, scoring two runs in the first inning for the third time in the series. Quickly down two outs after ground outs from Messervy and Rounds, Bravo continued to contribute extra-base hits, slicing a double to right field. Coming off a pitch-hit appearance in the start of the doubleheader, Berger launched a home run to left field, putting the Crimson up 2-0 before the inning closed on another ground out.

Junior Chris Clark took the ball to start game three of the series, following up Driver’s strong performance with one of his own. Clark retired his first six batters of the day, keeping the score at a 2-0 Harvard lead entering the third, where the Crimson broke the game open and never looked back.

Harvard quickly put runners on the basepath to begin the inning, with Messervy reaching first on a wild pitch on an error, and advancing to second and third through a fielder's choice and a single by Bravo, setting up runners on the corners for the Crimson. Capitalizing on the moment, Feller homered to left field to break the game open at 5-0 before Harvard took the field in the bottom of the inning.

The Crimson responded in the fourth and fifth by scoring a run in each inning, pushing the lead back up to five at a score of 7-2. Messervy doubled in the fourth and was brought in by a Logan Bravo single, while Colasante brought Berger in off third base on a fielder's choice in the fifth. Clark stacked strong innings on top of his strong early start, shutting out Texas A&M-Corpus Christi from the fourth through fifth innings and letting up an unearned run, ending his day with 6 IP and 2 ER.

Both offenses stayed quiet in the seventh, with the game ending at 7-3 Harvard.

Game 4: Harvard 3, TAMCC 5

In their final game of the series, Harvard played another competitive game, losing contention for victory in the final innings.

For the fourth consecutive game, the Crimson marked the scoreboard in the first inning, powered by a Peter Messervy double to open the game, which extended his extra base hit streak to three games. Rounds advanced Messervy to third on a ground out to first, and Bravo’s sacrifice fly to center field brought in the first Harvard run of the game.

On the mound, senior Sean Matson began the day for the Crimson pitching staff efficiently, getting out of the inning with only ten pitches thrown and three batters faced.

Matson maintained pace through the next three innings of his start, shutting out Texas A&M through the fourth inning and compiling 3 SO and 2 BB in the process.

With the exception of a pair of singles by Baldwin and another by Feller, the Harvard bats stayed relatively quiet through this stretch, with the score sitting at 1-0 until the top of the bottom of the fifth, where the Aggies scored a run off Matson to tie the game at 1-1.

At the top of the seventh, the Crimson stepped up to the plate and tied the game at 2-2. After a single by senior catcher and third baseman Zach Brown, a walk by Snopek, and a Colasante single to put runners on the corners, a sacrifice fly by Baldwin tied the game before the inning ended on a fly out by Messervy.

Relieving Matson for the day, senior infielder and pitcher Will Jacobsen took the ball for the Crimson, putting away Texas A&M in the bottom of the seventh with no additional runs added to the board.

The Crimson quickly entered and exited the top of the eighth with three fly-outs, putting Texas A&M back at the plate.

Things began to unwind for the Crimson in the bottom of the eighth inning. Resulting from a mix of singles, a stolen base and back-to-back errors in the field, the Aggies took a 5-2 lead on Harvard entering the ninth.

In its last chance to salvage the victory, the Crimson came up just short. With one down, a double by Snopek gave Harvard a runner in scoring position, and a flyout by Colasante advanced Snopek to third base. Down to their final out, Snopek scored on a wild fourth ball in an at-bat by Baldwin, cutting the Texan lead to two. Messervy walked in the next at-bat, and another wild pitch to Rounds advanced both Messervy and Baldwin to second and third. With the game-tying runners in scoring position, Rounds made contact, but grounded out to second, ending the game and the series in favor of Texas A&M.

“I thought Matson was really good,” Decker started. “But we made some miscues and we got to tighten up some things but anyways it's part of the experience of the road run. We just gotta prepare for this week starting tomorrow and just get ready to have our Ivy League opening series against Penn”.

— Staff writer Jack Canavan can be reached at jack.canavan@thecrimson.com.

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