Monday, March 27, 2006

Live from Spring Break, it's the Lance & Vance Show

More great news from Florida on Monday, as Harvard pulled out an 11-9 win over Lynn University and persevered through a 6-6, 11-inning marathon tie with Barry: Harvard's bats are heating up, and none more than the ones belonging to sophomore Matt Vance and senior Lance Salsgiver. The pair--two of the Crimson's toolsy-est guys--had seven hits apiece in today's double-dip, combining for 10 runs and, my favorite stat of all, six steals.

Cliff Notes version of today's action, courtesy of the boxscores:

In Game One against Lynn, the Northeast's swiftest designated hitter legged out a two-run triple in the eighth innning to knot the game at 9-9 after Harvard had trailed, then raced home from third with the winning run on a suicide squeeze play. You read that right: a suicide squeeze play. Love that call. Given the situation, it shouldn't have come as a surprise to Lynn, but that just makes the execution of it by Morgan Brown all the more impressive. The squeeze, by the way, was the second of two occasions in this particular game that Brown bunted to advance Vance. Brown didn't have a hit in Game One, but he continues to do all the little things necessary to win. In fact, the whole team was executing today. The aggressiveness stands out just by reading the box score, as it seems Walsh had the green light on the whole game. Consider this: on the day, Harvard had 17 runs and just one homer, a solo shot at that. The power will come, no one is worried about that. That Harvard can score 16 runs--all but one earned--by means other than the homer is vintage Crimson baseball.

The one homer Harvard did hit? Belonged to what's-his-name, Salsgiver, who didn't do much else in Game One except come up a double short of the cycle. And welcome back, Chris Mackey, who matched Lance and Vance with three hits of his own against Lynn, to go along with three RBI. His RBI single in the ninth provided a valuable insurance run that gave a little extra cushion for sophomore Shawn Haviland, who was available today thanks to his abbreviated start Saturday and shut down Lynn over the final 3.1 innings to get the win.

In the second game, which was called after 11 innings, Salsgiver and Vance again provided instant offense. With Vance moved down to the two-hole in this game and Salsgiver working out of his customary third slot, the pair were hitting back-to-back and they went tit-for-tat with each other all game long, not just at the plate, but on the basepaths. Tell me this play-by-play from the seventh inning isn't a sight for sore eyes:

Harvard 7th - Mackey grounded out to 2b. Vance singled, bunt. Vance
stole second. Salsgiver singled to third base; Vance advanced to third. Bernat
to p for Davila. Salsgiver stole second; Vance stole home. Salsgiver stole

That's four stolen bases in one inning, including a swipe of home, and one run scored without a ball leaving the frickin' infield. Mercy.

And oh yeah, Salsgiver came in to pitch an inning later with an inherited runner, yet escaped the inning, and then went on to pitch three more shutout innings before the game was called. Tell me again: how is this kid is still in school, and not among his dearly departed classmates who signed and left early? Hell if I know, but thank you, baseball gods. He may be the best prospect of them all when it's all said and done.

I could go on, but there's way too much to digest from today's two games, and we're going to save the rest of it for tomorrow. A final thought for tonight, though: there are so many possibilities with this lineup, especially the top two-thirds, it's sick. Up until now, the offense has been overlooked a bit because the pitching has been finding itself and Harvard has been playing behind in so many games. Not anymore. O'Donnell is going to be a fun place to watch baseball this spring.

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