Sunday, March 26, 2006

Seniority Rules.

Senior Matt Brunnig was back where he belonged Sunday: pitching on the weekend.

The 6'6 veteran (at right) went seven strong innings, making a compelling case to start one of next weekend's Ivy games, and fellow senior Josh Klimkiewicz jacked a clutch, three-run homer to lift Harvard to a 7-5 win over Jacksonville this afternoon.

Coming in on the heels of back-to-back blowouts that depleted Harvard's pitching corps, Brunnig came up big. He scattered eight hits (three were infield singles) and walked just one hitter to earn his first win of the year. After Harvard pieced together a four-run sixth to snap a 3-3 tie, Brunnig protected the lead for two more innings until giving way to the Hunch Bunch, as skipper Joe Walsh deployed a head-scratching hodge-podge of relievers to earn the game's final six outs. Steffan Wilson struggled in his curiously timed spring debut as a pitcher, but a 1-inning cameo by Friday's starter Adam Cole helped stopped the bleeding and Jason Brown recorded the final out to earn the save.

Today also offered a glimpse of the level of production Harvard's offense should be capable of this year. Harvard's scoring was confined to two innings, but those innings contained promising displays of patient hitting, moving along of runners, and raw power.

Trailing 2-0 in the fourth, Morgan Brown and Lance Salsgiver sprayed back-to-back singles to open the inning. Jacksonville then pitched carefully to Steffan Wilson, and Wilson didn't try to do too much, walking on four pitches. After Klimkiewicz also walked to collect one of his four RBIs on the day, Matt Vance--moved into the middle of the order after managing just three hits in his last 17 ABs in the leadoff spot--laced a two-run single to right-center.

In the seventh, Harvard broke the game open with four runs, first via some smallball. After sophomore catcher Matt Kramer reached on an infield single, Chris Mackey bunted pinch runner Max Warren over to second, Morgan Brown grounded out to the right side to move Warren to third, and Wilson scratched out another infield hit to give Harvard a 4-3 lead. Then up came Klimkiewicz, who clubbed a 3-2 pitch over the left field with two on and two outs. Pretty clutch job--the runs later proved critical as Harvard's bullpen only narrowly preserved the win.

Certainly a lot of positives to take away from today's game. The win should provide a big momentum boost going into a busy week of contests, which begins tomorrow with a day-night doubleheader. Another senior (and weekend candidate) Javy Castellanos is a strong possibility to pitch in one of tomorrow's games, coming off a strong 2.2-inning appearance yesterday. If he does go, and can match Brunnig's effectiveness, the Crimson's pitching situation may finally begin to come into focus.

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