Friday, March 11, 2005

Chalk it up as a learning experience

Harvard has fallen to Louisiana-Lafayette, 14-2, in its 2005 season opener. Not the most exciting way to break out of the gate, but these opening games are always more interesting for what they suggest about how Walsh is leaning personnel-wise.

That said, a quick look at the box score shows mixed results for the two rookies who figure to see lots of action early on. Rookie speedster Matt Vance started in center and had two of Harvard's seven hits out of the leadoff spot, including an RBI single that plated the Crimson's first run. Left fielder Steffan Wilson went hitless in four trips, with three Ks, in his debut out of the cleanup spot -- a place Walsh has historically been unafraid to insert rookies right away.

Besides Vance, another offensive bright spot for Harvard was Rob Wheeler, who looks poised to reap some serious playing time after three years of paying his dues by doing whatever was asked (from pinch hitter to mop-up man to, if I remember right, the team's emergency catcher at a couple points). Wheeler started at first and had two hits. He was the first Crimson hitter to reach base off Cajun Jered Salazar--who retired the first six men he faced--and came around to score the team's first run.

As for Harvard starter Javier Castellanos, the good news is, well, he didn't walk anybody. But all of Harvard's hurlers had a tough go of it today and Javy ended up getting tagged for six runs on 9 hits and exited in the third. Going forward, one of the more interesting things to find out in next week's postmortems of this trip will be whether Javy just didn't have good command of his pitches (particularly his well-advertised breaking stuff) or whether it just didn't matter against a top-25 team's offense.

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