Amid Boston Overdose Crisis, a Pair of Harvard Students Are Bringing Narcan to the Red Line
At First Cambridge City Council Election Forum, Candidates Clash Over Building Emissions
Harvard’s Updated Sustainability Plan Garners Optimistic Responses from Student Climate Activists
‘Sunroof’ Singer Nicky Youre Lights Up Harvard Yard at Crimson Jam
‘The Architect of the Whole Plan’: Harvard Law Graduate Ken Chesebro’s Path to Jan. 6
The Harvard men’s baseball team opened the 2023 season with a series loss against the University of Pittsburgh last weekend in Port Charlotte, Fla., dropping three of its four games. The Florida sun, however, did not help the Crimson not shake off its Cambridge frost as it was overpowered by the Panthers during the series.
The series saw the Crimson play its first competitive baseball games since the end of Ivy League play last year, more than nine months ago. In an interview last week before the series against Pittsburgh, Coach Bill Decker said the team was “just itching to get going.”
Harvard lost a heartbreaker on Opening Day, entering the bottom of the ninth with a two-run lead before allowing a walk-off grand slam to drop the game 12-10. During the first game of a Saturday doubleheader, the Crimson got some revenge by staging an impressive come-from-behind win in the ninth inning to shock the Panthers and win its first game of the season 8-4. Harvard had less luck in game two on Saturday, losing 11-3 in seven innings, and on Sunday, the Panthers sealed their series victory over the Crimson with a 17-7 win.
The Crimson, which was ranked fourth in the Ivy League in a preseason poll, has a long way to go before it opens Ivy League play against the University of Pennsylvania later this month.
Decker, however, said he is not paying attention to any preseason polls.
“We want to do the best we can, obviously, in every series, and our goal is to get into that initial four-team tournament,” he said. “That’s it. We want to be one of the top four at the end of the year, and then we get a chance.”
PITTSBURGH 12, HARVARD 10
Harvard wasted no time scoring its first run of the season during the first game of the series on Friday. Junior outfielder Peter Messervy led off the first inning with a single to center field and quickly advanced to second base on another single by senior first baseman Logan Bravo. The next batter, junior third baseman Jake Berger, hit the third single of the inning down the right field line to score Messervy. The Crimson could not extend its lead in the opening frame, stranding two runners on base.
Junior right-hander Jay Driver took the mound for the Crimson on Opening Day, starting off his season with a six pitch walk. Driver quickly rebounded, getting the next two batters to strike out and fly out, but could not get out of the inning. Driver walked his second batter of the inning to put runners on first and second with two outs, before allowing a run scoring single to tie the game. A throwing error by Messervy allowed another run to cross the plate, leaving the Crimson down 2-1 after the first inning.
Harvard kept pressuring the Panthers in the top of the second, loading the bases with two singles and a walk and only one out. Junior right-fielder Ben Rounds then reached base on a throwing error by Pittsburgh’s shortstop, scoring two runs and allowing the Crimson to regain the lead. After a walk by Bravo to reload the bases, the Crimson extended its lead with some more help from the opposing team. The Panthers’ shortstop committed his second error of the inning, dropping a fly ball and allowing two more Crimson runs to cross the plate to extend Harvard’s lead 5-2. The top of the second ended after Bravo was tagged out in an attempted steal of home plate.
The Panthers managed to load the bases in the bottom of the second inning, but they only managed to squeeze out a single run after Driver allowed a walk with the bases full. Driver escaped the inning without allowing any more runs by getting Pittsburgh senior designated-hitter Jack Anderson to strike out swinging and strand three runners on base.
The Crimson added a run in the top of the third inning after junior left-fielder Chris Snopek and sophomore catcher Sawyer Feller hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Driver allowed two runners to get on base in the bottom half of the third inning, but induced a fly out to end the inning to avoid any damage.
Driver started the bottom half of the fourth inning by getting a quick out on a ground ball that was hit directly to Bravo at first base, but then allowed back-to-back walks to end his first start of the season, with Decker bringing in senior right-hander James Kirkpatrick to pitch in relief. Kirkpatrick struck out the first batter he faced on three pitches, but then he gave up back-to-back singles which scored the two runners Kirkpatrick inherited from Driver. Kirkpatrick stranded the bases loaded to avoid giving up any more runs and keep the Crimson in the lead with a narrow 6-5 lead after four innings.
The Panthers added two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning while the Crimson was kept off the scoreboard, allowing Pittsburgh to take a 8-6 lead into the seventh inning.
The bottom half of the Crimson’s lineup fought back in the top of the seventh inning to regain the lead. With two men on base, senior shortstop Hunter Baldwin smacked an RBI double down the left-field line to score a run and put two runners in scoring position with only one out. The next batter, sophomore second baseman George Cooper, hit a single up the middle to score two runs and allow the Crimson to retake the lead 9-8. In the top of the eighth inning, Harvard added another run on an RBI double to extend their advantage over the Panthers to 10-8.
With a 10-8 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, Coach Decker brought in junior left-hander Uday Narottam to seal the victory for the Crimson. Narottam allowed a leadoff single, followed by back-to-back walks to load the bases with no outs. The next batter, Pittsburgh’s senior first baseman Noah Martinez, worked a 2-2 count against Narottam before smashing a walk-off grand slam to spoil Harvard’s Opening Day in Florida.
Driver ended his first start of the season with four strikeouts and only two hits over 3.1 innings. However, the junior struggled to find the strike zone during his outing, allowing seven walks and three earned runs. The Crimson’s best pitching performance came from senior left-hander Tim Williamson, who gave up just one run and one hit over four innings of work while recording three strikeouts. Narottam, who failed to record an out in the ninth inning, picked up the loss and was charged with four earned runs in his first appearance of the season.
Driver said in an interview after the game that he holds himself to a “higher standard.”
“I’m looking forward to getting back out there and improving upon what happened last time,” Driver said. “I gotta throw more strikes and be more efficient out there, so I can stay in the game for longer and put my team in a better position to win.”
HARVARD 8, PITTSBURGH 4
After the Crimson got shocked in the ninth inning on Friday, it flipped the script and did some shocking of its own in the ninth inning during the first game of a Saturday doubleheader. Game one was a pitcher’s duel until the Crimson’s bats came to life in the top of the ninth inning to score seven runs and secure its first of the season.
Junior right-hander Chris Clark shined for Harvard, as the Panthers could not hit the ball out of the infield in the bottom of the first inning. The Crimson’s offense made some noise in the top of the second inning. A leadoff walk and two singles loaded the bases with no outs, but Harvard only managed to score one run from a wild pitch. A walk by Messervy reloaded the bases, but the Panthers put an end to the Crimson threat by striking out Cooper and Bravo to hold Harvard to just a 1-0 lead.
Clark dominated throughout the first five innings, facing the minimum his first time through the Panthers’ lineup. In the second inning, Clark struck out the side on just 12 pitches. In the sixth inning, Clark gave up a walk to start the hitting and drilled the next batter he faced to put runners on first and second base with no outs. A throwing error by Berger, the Crimson’s third baseman, allowed the two runs to score. Clark managed to get out of the inning without further damage, but he exited the game with the Crimson down 2-1.
The score remained unchanged until the top of the ninth inning. With the Crimson just three outs away from losing their second game of the season, Rounds belted a solo home run to tie the game 2-2 and let the Crimson breathe a little easier. The next batter, Messervy, worked a full count before drawing a walk. After a strikeout by Cooper, the Crimson’s bats came alive: Bravo drove in Messervy with a double down the left-field line, Berger scored Bravo with an RBI single, and senior designated hitter Will Jacobsen extended the lead with an RBI double that brought home Berger and gave the Crimson a three-run lead. Harvard scored three more runs in the top of the ninth inning, batting around their lineup and increasing their lead to 8-2.
The Panthers attempted to stage another comeback in the bottom of the ninth, hitting three singles to start the inning and loading the bases with no outs. Senior lefthander Harrison Stovern, who pitched three innings in relief of Clark, got the next two batters to ground out, trading two runs for two valuable ninth inning outs. Stovern sealed the Crimson’s victory with his third ground out of the inning and picked up the win for his three innings of work in relief.
Clark did not earn the victory, but finished his first start of the season with 10 strikeouts over six innings of work. Clark only allowed two hits, two walks, and no earned runs in the Crimson’s strongest starting pitching performance of the weekend.
Driver, one of the Crimson’s co-captains, praised Clark’s performance in an interview after the four-games series. Driver said that Clark “pitched really, really well” and was one of the team’s highlights over the weekend.
PITTSBURGH 11, HARVARD 3
After waking up for the ninth inning in game one, the Crimson’s bats went back to sleep during game two of the Saturday doubleheader. The Panthers outscored the Crimson 11-3 in a seven inning game to hand the Crimson its second loss of the series.
Sophomore right-hander Sean Matson started for the Crimson and he was rudely welcomed into the new season by the Panthers. Matson gave up a single to the first batter he faced, before allowing a two-run home run to the second Pittsburgh hitter of the game as the Crimson quickly found itself in a 2-0 hole after the first inning.
The Crimson had a chance to retake the lead in the second inning. Berger hit a leadoff double, Snopek walked, and Feller singled to load the bases. The Crimson was unable to go in front of the Panthers, only scoring one run on a fielder’s choice and leaving two runners stranded on base.
Harvard had to wait until the third inning to tie the game. Messervy hit a leadoff double down the left-field line and was quickly driven home after a double by Rounds. However, the Crimson continued to miss opportunities to jump in front, stranding another two runners on base at the end of the inning.
The Crimson would never get another chance to take the lead. The Panthers scored three runs in the third inning, knocking Matson out of the game after just 2.2 innings. Coach Decker brought junior right-hander Porter Jordheim into the game from the bullpen, but Jordheim immediately gave up an RBI single to the first batter he faced, allowing the one runner he inherited from Matson to score.
Jordheim struggled to record outs in the fourth inning as well, hitting a batter and giving up a walk, forcing Coach Decker to turn to his bullpen again. Decker brought in freshman right-hander Jack Smith to face Pittsburgh’s Martinez — who hit the walk-off grand slam in Friday’s game — with one out and two runners on base. Martinez smashed the third pitch he saw from Smith over the fence for a three-run home run that gave the Panthers an 8-2 lead over the Crimson.
The Panthers added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and another run in the bottom of the sixth inning, while keeping the Crimson off the scoreboard until the top of the seventh inning. Harvardmanaged to get a couple of runners on base, but it was unable to jumpstart a come-from-behind rally in the final inning of the game, dropping their second game of the series to the Panthers.
PITTSBURGH 17, HARVARD 7
In the final matchup of the four-game series, the Crimson took an early 3-0 lead against the Panthers on Sunday. Rounds hit a double in the top of the first inning and quickly came around to score on an RBI single from Bravo. Berger drew a walk to put runners on first and second for Snopek, who hit an RBI double to drive in Bravo. Berger scored the third run of the inning after he raced home on a wild pitch.
Senior right-hander Will Jacobsen, who appeared earlier in the series as a designated hitter, started for the game for Harvard. Jacobsen retired the Panthers in order in the first inning, but ran into some trouble in the second inning. Pittsburgh loaded the bases against the Crimson, but Jacobsen induced an inning-ending double play to escape the jam and keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.
Jacobsen had less luck in the third inning, allowing two unearned runs after an error by Bravo allowed a runner to reach base and extend the inning. Harvard remained ahead, with a narrow 3-2 lead after three innings.
In the fourth inning, the Panthers burst open the floodgates and scored six runs against Jacobsen. After allowing a two-run RBI double, Jacobsen walked a pair of batters to load the bases. The next batter blasted a grand-slam to left center-field and increased the Panthers’ lead to 8-3, the second grand-slam surrendered by the Crimson’s pitching staff in the series.
The grand-slam knocked Jacobsen out of the game, forcing Coach Decker to turn to Narottam in relief. Narottam, who struggled in the first game of the series, successfully retired the Panthers to end the fourth inning.
In the fifth inning, Narottam’s struggles returned as he failed to record outs against the Pittsburgh batters. Narottam surrendered five hits, one walk, and hit one batter in the inning, getting charged with seven earned runs over a 1.1 total innings of work as the Panthers jumped out to a 15-3 lead over the Crimson. After his two appearances over the weekend, Narottam finished the series with a 74.25 ERA.
Harvard made some offensive noise in the top of the sixth inning, scoring four runs after home runs by junior catcher William Lybrook and freshman outfielder Max Lane, and an RBI single from sophomore outfielder Matt Giberti. However, it was not enough to threaten the Panthers’ lead, with the Crimson losing the final game of the series 17-7 in eight innings.
Driver said Harvard’ss pitching staff needs to improve its performance this weekend when it returns to Florida to face Florida International University in a four-game series starting on Friday.
“As a whole, the pitchers can do a better job, myself included — keeping runners off base, keeping the score down, putting up the zero,” Driver said.
Driver also said that the Crimson getting ranked fourth in the preseason poll of Ivy League baseball teams is “definitely something that we’re not happy with.”
“We believe that we’re better than that,” Driver added. “In the end of the day, it’s up to us to prove that.”
Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.