Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Most Suspenseful Butt-Kicking Ever

After Dartmouth scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh, chasing Matt Brunnig, erasing what had once been a five-run deficit and tying the game at 9-9, Matt Vance stepped up and stroked a leadoff triple that sparked a five-run rally, exciting a Harvard bench you could hear over Dartmouth radio for the rest of the game.

What followed was a remarkable display of hitting by Harvard and a sustained and astonishing show of defensive ineptitude by the Big Green. We'll take it. Harvard has won the Rolfe Division, beating Dartmouth 23-9 in what amounted to a one-game playoff for the division title. Harvard will host Princeton in the Ivy League Championship series on Saturday.

It wasn't the best Brunnig we've ever seen on the mound (I actually can't remember the last home run we had given up in Ivy play), but on the flip side, it was the best Brunnig we'd ever seen at the plate (3-for-5, 3 runs, 2 rbi, extra base hits numbers 1 and 2 on the season--and that was when the hits still mattered!). Josh Klimkiewicz hit a homer that still hasn't come down. Ditto Andrew Casey. Steffan Wilson came in to close it out, which I'm excited about as well.

More on this later. I'm very interested to see whether Adam Cole will start the second game against Princeton, but we've got a week to sort all of that out.

Hats off to Dartmouth and its players for a strong bounce-back season. The Dartmouth radio broadcasters (who were actually pretty good this year) noted that the Crimson players were calm and classy upon the end of the game, which of course computes.

One for all the marbles

Harvard has lost the first game, 4-0. Javy Castellanos actually pitched reasonably well. The big concern is hitting: Vance, Salsgiver and Wilson were a combined 1-for-10, and no one hit for any power.

As demoralizing as this is, there's no time to dwell on it. The biggest game of the season looms. Destiny, meet Matt Brunnig. Matt Brunnig, destiny.

In his last start, Yale slapped Chase Carpenter around to the tune of 11 hits and 9 runs (7 earned). Game before that? 13 hits, 5 runs to Brown. We can only hope for more of the same here.

Game On!

Dartmouth Gametracker is working. Which is great, because the radio link doesn't seem to be getting us baseball.
UPDATE: They just switched over. Several minutes into the game, too. Not very professional, but then, that's Dartmouth radio.
UPDATE: I should correct myself. This actually turned out to be a not-horrible broadcast, as college stations go.

The good thing about the hit parade

The silver lining:
“Scoring eight off of Faiola, that’s their guy,” head coach Joe Walsh said. “I feel real good coming into tomorrow. I feel confident we’re swinging pretty good. And if I’m their three or four guy, and I saw us pepper Faiola around…they might be thinking a little bit.”
Good job by Pablo getting this recap up fast. Expecting Javy C. and Brunnig today, he adds.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Harvard loses, 13-8. Magic number is 1.

Very tough loss, letting the game get away earlier on a day when Faiola proved hittable. Harvard missed an opportunity. Now, the Crimson has to win one on the road in Hanover to advance.

Expect to see Jeff Wilkerson against Javy Castellanos in the seven-inning game and Chase Carpenter against either Matt Brunnig or Lance Salsgiver or perhaps Brad Unger tomorrow. Neither Carpenter nor Wilkerson has proven himself unhittable this season, particularly in starts against their earlier Rolfe Division opponents, Yale and Brown.

Meanwhile, Javy Castellanos has been at least passably good, and sometimes much more than that, in every Ivy start this season. It's also worth noting that Harvard has won all of the games Javy's started this year, and hasn't been swept in any Ivy doubleheader since April 2004. I'm feeling pretty good about having Javy out there with the season on the line, largely because I'll never forget another big Ivy game when he showed what he could do up against this kind of pressure. Go get 'em, Javy.

Still, Dartmouth stayed alive and is in a good position. They've got a chance to wrap up the division by winning two games in front of their own drunk, godless fans. We'll see how it goes. I expect Dartmouth college radio to cover the games, although watch out--in the past, these guys have made the WHRB guys, who at least try, sound like Vin Scully. As for live Gametracker, at this point, who knows? Just drive there, darn it!

Other notes:

* Josh Klimkiewicz was 0-for-8 in his return, although some will note that he should've been 1-for-8.
* Silver lining: Matt Vance appears to be out of his slump (4-for-7 today).
* Jay Brown's 77-pitch mop-up outing was huge. Salsgiver, Brunnig, Foushee, Unger, Bruton, Watson and Dukovich are all available tomorrow as a result.

Uh-oh

Adam Cole struggled mightily in his start. He just wasn't able to throw strikes. In 2/3 of an inning, he walked four, including two with the bases loaded, gave up two hits and allowed four unearned runs (after an error by Taylor Meehan). Harvard's down 4-0 after one, facing quite the uphill battle against Faiola.

Figure on Cole joining the list of potential relievers tomorrow. Jay Brown is in there now.

What Can Brown Do For You?

Hit game winning singles. Harvard has won the first game, 2-1, in 10 innings. Morgan Brown hit a bases loaded single off sophomore reliever Kyle Zeis to score Lance Salsgiver, silence the loud Dartmouth contingent and give the Crimson a huge win. Shawn Haviland went all ten in his greatest pitching performance yet.

This was the one the Crimson absolutely had to have, with Faiola coming up later and the games tomorrow on the road. It featured Tom Stack-Babich's first Ivy start in a looong while (he had a few rough at bats but a big hit in the ninth) and Josh Klimkiewicz's return (he somehow got thrown out at first on an early single but had a diving catch in the ninth when two outs and men on that may have saved the game).

Harvard is now one win away from postseason play. They'll have three shots now. WHRB is indeed working: Listen to it here.

How Can I Follow This?

I'm trying to figure that out myself. WHRB doesn't seem to be streaming the game, and GoCrimson.com Gametracker hasn't started yet... But maybe there just hasn't been anything to report there. We'll keep checking.
UPDATE: The game has apparently started. It's 1-0 Dartmouth, bot 2nd. Color me disappointed that you can't follow the game remotely...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Two notes on the upcoming LCS

Proving once again that the classiest, most tradition-rich baseball program in the Ivy League resides in Allston, it looks like the Friends of Harvard Baseball ponied up to commission a new trophy, to be awarded from now on to the Ivy League baseball champion. The new hardware will be dedicated tomorrow before the Harvard-Dartmouth doubleheader, and is named for William C. Matthews, Harvard class of 1905 and a pioneer among African-American ballplayers. Sure would be appropriate if the inaugural bestowment of the trophy goes to Matthews' alma mater.

Also, not to burst my own bubble, but it looks like Harvard should be able to host the LCS if they earn the required split this weekend against Dartmouth. I think Marty and I always assumed hosting duties alternated each year between the two divisions, but a check of the Ivy site revealsthe "higher seed" hosts. That sounds right, now that I think about it.

Tigers roar...

...with a road sweep of Cornell. Princeton will host the Dartmouth-Harvard winner next week. Somewhere, Brian celebrates.

Down to two

Brown beat Yale in the second game, 8-3. That wraps it up for the Bulldogs. No more Rolfe Division scoreboard watching, and no more prospect of a one-game playoff next Wednesday. If Harvard splits this weekend, it's the division title. If Dartmouth wins 3 of 4, they win the division.

It All Comes Down To This


I can't wait. Harvard-Dartmouth weekend with the division at stake is Ivy League baseball's answer to Christmas morning--just as exciting and just as predictable.

Kurt the Harvard SID tells me that you will be able to follow this weekend's games on the live Gamecast at GoCrimson.com. They've been working hard through some real IT difficulties to get it going again, and I really appreciate their efforts. That said, there's also a promotion at the park, where the first 150 fans (no punchlines there, please) get a seat cushion and a complimentary team photo. I've never heard of this happening before, but I'm thrilled that the athletic department is doing this. Someone's figured out that Dartmouth's tendency to bring buckets of drunk fratboys to O'Donnell eats away at our homefield advantage, and they might have to do something to counter that. Here's hoping they advertise the promotion well.

Alex McPhillips does a good job with his preview:
Said sophomore Shawn Haviland (3-5, 4.06 ERA), who will start Game 1 tomorrow, “If we have a lead late in Game 2 after a win in Game 1, we might bring in [projected Game 3 starter Javy Castellanos] to close. We want to win.”

In keeping with its regular weekend rotation, Dartmouth will likely start with sophomore Russell Young (3-2, 3.96) tomorrow in Game 1 and go with senior staff ace Josh Faiola (5-2, 1.90) in the nightcap.

It will be the first appearance for Faiola, a former co-MVP of the prestigious Cape Cod League, since going 12 innings in an epic 2-1 loss to Yale on April 22. In that start, he threw 145 pitches.

Haviland said the Crimson won’t expect Faiola to show signs of wear.

“Sometimes you throw 145 and have no stress,” he said, “and sometimes you throw 65 with all kinds of stress—you’re rearing back. So it’s different.”

“But,” he added, “to throw that in a losing effort is impressive. He’ll be a great matchup for Cole.”

Adam Cole (2-2, 4.09), the Harvard freshman, will take the mound in Game 2. On Sunday at Dartmouth, Harvard will likely start Castellanos (4-3, 5.45) in Game 3. Beyond that, Harvard coach Joe Walsh could go with a combination of his most experienced arms—including seniors Matt Brunnig and Lance Salsgiver, and possibly even Haviland in relief—in Game 4, depending on the stakes.
Lance's arm only has so much experience at Harvard, but the point is well taken. Then there's this from Haviland, the reigning Ivy Pitcher of the Week:
Dartmouth eventually won Game 4 and the division title, but Walsh has made no secret of his willingness to use his best pitchers in unusual situations.

“Every single weekend—and Coach Walsh will tell you the same thing,” Haviland said. “I try to beg my way into the games on Sunday. My arm never gets sore. If I’m on the hill [in relief in Game 4], there’s nowhere I’d rather be.”
No objections here. I want this kid on the mound (to the point where I'm ready to start wondering aloud why he doesn't pitch the nine-inning games), and I'm glad he wants it even more.

Morgan Brown provides some positive clarity on the Klimkiewicz situation:
Brown, who will be back in the field after missing a start against Rhode Island this week with a strained hamstring, said doctors gave Klimkiewicz the go-ahead to play this weekend for the first time since injuring his elbow on April 22.

“He’s a senior,” Brown said. “There’s no way he wants to miss this weekend. If there’s any way he can play, he will.”


By the time we get to Saturday, it may already be a two-horse race. The Brown-Yale series starts today in Providence. If Brown can get one win at home, Yale's out of the race.

Kurt the Harvard SID does a great job in his preview picking up on the fact that Dartmouth hasn't won two games at Harvard since the Reagan administration. In fact, I'm going to flat out recommend reading the official GoCrimson.com preview, which is the best I've ever seen Harvard put out. If you're bored after that, there's also this preview in The Dartmouth.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Baseball loses to URI

Here. Coach Walsh remains quiet about Josh Klimkiewicz and his availability, and is upset with the team's play generally. Tom Stack-Babich homers and doubles, and if he can get as hot as we thought he'd be all season, we'd sure welcome it for this weekend. Current Boston forecast calls for sun all weekend, which I'd have to think we want, since Dartmouth's weekend guys had to pitch "for real" on Wednesday...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Advantage: Harvard

Harvard is playing URI right now, but events of greater consequence happened in Hanover, NH today.

Dartmouth won its first game against Yale but got thumped in the second, meaning that Harvard (12-4) is a game up on Dartmouth (11-5) heading into this week's pivotal four-game set in Cambridge and Hanover. Yale is now 10-6 and continues to lurk. Brown, at 9-7, has been eliminated from contention.

Scenarios (Am I wrong? Hit the comments):

If Harvard wins three games this weekend, it wins the division outright.

If Harvard splits the series with Dartmouth this weekend, it clinches at least a tie for the division title. At that point, Yale would have to sweep Brown in order to force a tie and a one-game playoff for the division. Otherwise, Harvard wins the division outright.

If Dartmouth wins three, Dartmouth would either win the division outright or tie with Yale (if the Bulldogs sweep Brown). If Dartmouth sweeps, they win the division outright.

Harvard has thus earned itself the luxury of a likelihood of a division title with a mere split.

In a similar situation once upon a time (2001), Harvard went to Dartmouth for the Saturday games and came home for the Sunday games. Harvard Coach Joe Walsh saved his two best starters, John Birtwell and Ben Crockett, for the home games. The strategy did not bear fruit; Harvard lost two tough ones in Hanover (amidst catcalls from Dartmouth's classless "fans") and then dropped a heartbreaking opener in Cambridge the next day. Dartmouth piled onto the field to celebrate. In the newly meaningless second half of that doubleheader, Ben Crockett no-hit the Big Green, striking out 16. No-hitter, but no playoffs. All of this is to demonstrate that there are very real strategic components to laying out a rotation at this point in the season.

This year, with the first two Dartmouth games at home, I'd hope to see Haviland and Cole right in their usual spots, in the first two games of the weekend and the only two that are guaranteed to be meaningful. Try and make Sunday irrelevant. Exercise real patience at the plate. Be mindful of the fact that Dartmouth's Josh Faiola threw a borderline illegal 145 pitches in his last start. Throw Castellanos out there for the first Hanover game in his usual spot, where he's proven a solid weekend starter in his senior year.

And the fourth game? Hopefully it won't matter. But if all three of the early starters can go deep into their starts in games where Harvard is able to get a big lead and doesn't have go deeper than Brown or Bruton or Foushee or Dukovich in the pen--and we haven't seen that in a little while--give me Matt Brunnig against one of the Dartmouth guys who pitched today. Have Salsgiver or Wilson or Ungar ready to go, but I like our chances with the big senior. If you need to use Brunnig earlier, Salsgiver might be your next best option.

The word is that Klimkiewicz should be ready to go for the weekend. That should push Taylor Meehan back to second (I have been horribly negligent in not posting anything on the injured Brendan Byrne) and Jeff Stoeckel to the bench in the first game, although who knows. Either way, this weekend is what it's all about. Meanwhile, Princeton plays Cornell for the Under .500 Division title. I chuckle as I write that, as either team would likely be a more than worthy challenger in the league championship series.

Lock and load, gang.

A Word About Comments

Moments ago, I deleted a comment on the board that contained false information about a player's health status. The test of any internet enterprise as open as ours is how far you're willing to let it stay open until people start doing jerky things. We've have very few unfortunate incidents through the year+ we've been doing the site, and we have the tremendous Harvard baseball community to thank for that. We value updates that people have that we aren't privy to and punditry about lineups, decisions and the season generally. But we're more than willing simply to shut down the comments if things get out of hand.
Needless to say, anything posted by an anonymous poster regarding a player's health or anything similarly sensitive should be taken with a fistful of salt. If there is an inappropriate post, please don't hesitate to e-mail us so we can investigate and take appropriate action. Brian and I check the account pretty frequently, and we're serious about this.
Thanks,
Martin

More Post-Beanpot

A hearty thanks to the Crimson's Alex McPhillips for filling in at Fenway. THC's coverage of the Beanpot includes this recap, no BC closure and a nice visit with some Harvard parents. Somehow, there is no mention of Josh Klimkiewicz's injury status. Hopefully we'll find out something official today when the Crimson plays URI, with Ryan Watson listed as your likely starter. Meanwhile, Yale and Dartmouth make up their doubleheader today, not yesterday as I erroneously reported earlier.

Meanwhile, Frank Herrmann's pro diary gets better and better:
Over the past few weeks I have started to see what former Harvard baseball captain Trey Hendricks ’04 meant when he told me, “pro ball just ain’t the same”.

Last summer, when I was trying to decide whether or not to forego my senior year of eligibility and sign a professional contract, I reached out to a lot of people in the “baseball know” whose opinions I respected. Most advised me that signing then would be a great opportunity and something I should really consider. And when I called Trey I expected to hear much of the same.

Having already experienced two seasons in the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system, Trey was able to give me an earnest and startling perspective.

He warned that playing baseball in the minor leagues was really more about developing the individual than about the team-first, “win-at-all-costs” mentality that prevails at Harvard. This is not to say that my current teammates are in any way selfish or that winning is not their ultimate goal but the dugout just seems to lack that same buzz and excitement that is present when playing a Sunday doubleheader against Dartmouth with the Ivy League title on the line.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

That's a wrap

Tonight's 10-2 loss wasn't all that different from the 10-0 defeat at BC a couple of weeks ago. The defense was better tonight--Morgan Brown was in the lineup (he had missed the previous BC game with a strained hammy)--but the offense, this time without Klimkiewicz, was equally anemic. Ratliff was impressive with the slider; and had he not left one hanging against Salsgiver in the first inning, he would've had a one-hit shutout.

Walsh was very complimentary of BC after the game. Don't take a lot out of this loss. BC is a very good team and Harvard, despite throwing a handful of its best pitchers, doesn't quite have that depth of talent. Stay tuned for Crimson coverage in tomorrow's paper and online; there'll be a lot to read.

Bottom line: Harvard needs Klim back before the weekend...and healthy.

8-2

BC's Pete Frates launched a two-run homer into the right field bullpen in the top of the sixth. Now in the bottom of the seventh, the game is still a lopsided 8-2 and Ratliff sports this sparkling line: 6 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 H, 8 K.

6-2 after five

SOBB has just felt its first raindrop blow through the press box window here at Fenway. Ratliff just struck out Lance looking to end the fifth. BC scored a single run, its sixth, in the top of the inning. The score is 6-2.

Now the field boxes are clearing; the umbrellas are out. The cloud cover isn't too threatening, so I don't imagine play will stop at all.

Now pitching for the Crimson...

You want my ellipses; you need my ellipses. Hampton Foushee, who threw well in his no-decision against Northeastern last week, has finally come in to pitch. Let's see if his slow/filthy breaking stuff from the left side can put the breaks on the BC bats.

Regardless, BC starter Ted Ratliff has settled down and is shutting down Harvard. He now has five Ks through four and hasn't allowed a runner past second since Salsgiver reached third with no outs in the first.

Through 1 1/2...

Thirty-five minutes into gametime, we enter the bottom of the second inning. It may be a long evening; Harvard marched seven batters up to the plate in the bottom of the first, scoring two on Salsgiver's christening of the Green Monster (he hit one just above the American League scoreboard for a double). In the bottom of the inning, BC put four on the board in what figures to be Haviland's last inning--a long one, for sure.

Ratcliffe, the BC starter, retired the side while I was just typing. Kramer and Stoeckel were two of his four strikeout victims for the game.

This just in: Adam Cole has entered the game to relieve Haviland. We just might get to see the whole gang, folks.

Live from Boston...

It's my SOBB debut and I bring you this exclusive: Shawn Haviland, the Ivy League pitcher of the week, will be starting on the mound in 5 minutes. It sounds as if he'll go one or two innings, after which Walsh could go with Foushee or Watson in relief. Haviland likes to work against live hitting in the midweek en lieu of his usual bullpen sessions.

Klimkiewicz is still out; Wilson is at first. Stoeckel starts at second, Meehan's at third, and Brown's at short. Kramer behind the plate. Mackey, Vance, and Salsgiver are manning the outfield.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Ouch.

Well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad. I was there for a good chunk of this last game, and I wish I wasn't. I'm also more curious about what happened with the rotation, with the starter ultimately being neither Salsgiver nor Unger but Mike Dukovich, who had pitched (well) earlier in the day.Of course, today would still work out well for Harvard if Josh Klimkiewicz's visit to the doctor tonight reveals nothing more serious to the hyperextended elbow he suffered in Saturday's first game. He hasn't played since (although, amusingly, he did manage to get tossed from the dugout today--Harvard assistant coach Gary Donovan was ejected from the first). A lineup without Klimekiewicz is a very different lineup.
KlimkiewiczTeam Rank
SLG.6022nd
OBP.4841st
AVG.3553rd
RBI371st
HR61st
Let's see what happens. Tomorrow is the Beanpot final. I'm not there, but we may have coverage anyway, and hopefully WHRB will also offer coverage online. Meanwhile, Dartmouth and Yale will make up an all-important doubleheader tomorrow.

Harvard wins Game 3, 5-2

Thanks to Lehman on the phone. Crimson storm back from an early 2-0 deficit. Castellanos started, got into some trouble in the fifth. Salsgiver came in to shut it down, turned in two strong innings.

Game Four is starting now with Mike Dukovich on the mound.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Today's Games Postponed

Makeup tomorrow at 1 p.m. Yale and Dartmouth's doubleheader was also cancelled. For what it's worth, it's supposed to rain tomorrow as well, up until around 3pm, and we've seen the Brown series go to Tuesday before... Although we shouldn't this year, since the Beanpot final is Tuesday.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

All we are saying is, Give Lance a Chance


Weather permitting, we have been led to believe Lance Salsgiver--he of the career 11.0 K/9 ratio in 23 college innings--will earn a start against Brown tomorrow. Here's hoping he receives a longer leash than he did in his only other career start (which was more of an experiment than anything and came, incidentally, also against Brown).

Salsgiver's high school career as a hitter is well chronicled: school records in batting average and homers, Baseball America All-American twice over, Louisville Slugger All-American, etc. His pitching exploits, though frequently referenced by Joe Walsh, are less known. To the rescue is Timm Rye, Salsgiver's high school coach from Davison, Mich., who was kind enough to send along his high school pitching stats, beginning with his sophomore campaign in 2000:


SeasonGSCGIPERHERABBSOWLS
20001085517412.163094532
200113970.1941.90421221301
20026-34.25271.001951226


As Rye explains, an asterisk belongs next to Salsgiver's 2002 stats: "Lance's senior season numbers are little short because the hockey team (he was a captain) went deep in the state playoffs and his start on the season was a little late, causing him longer to get into baseball shape." For a truer indication of what he's capable of, take a long look at the junior season numbers: 13-0 record, with a .90 ERA. For every hit allowed, he struck out three guys. Rumor has it he even relied on the jam-your-fist-into-a-bucket-of-rice training regimen made famous by Roger Clemens. Marvels Rye: "Lance still has 20 spots on our high school records page and several on the Michigan High School list as well. Lance was our starting shortstop as well as our leading pitching for his three years on varsity. 90+mph fastballs tend to do that to you!"

Final anaylsis: Salsgiver may not project as a pitcher when his career proceeds to the next level, but in these final two weeks, he's plenty capable of carrying Harvard across the finish line.

Harvard Sweeps

1-0 behind Haviland in the first game. 8-4 in the second. I didn't see either game, and I couldn't listen to HRB for very long (I mean that multiple ways today. Stop giggling, kids...). Game 1 ends controversially as Brown claims Steffan Wilson's foot came off the bag at first, but the out was called. Game 2 features both Brunnig in relief and another Castellanos save. I'm guessing this means we see Salsgiver start tomorrow. Brian Fallon, for one, is excited.

Dartmouth beat Yale 6-4 in their first game only to lose 2-1 in the second in 12 innings with Faiola going all 12 (!) in a losing effort, meaning that Harvard has gained ground on everyone today.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hear the ping of the bat...

Although it seems that Gametracker won't be back this weekend, Ryan at WHRB tells me that their problems are fixed, and you should be able to follow this week's games with them. There are two links on that page: the regular stream and the low bandwidth stream. Should be the latter, but if not, check both.

I should add that I'll actually be blogging on a very limited basis this weekend due to other glaring commitments, but I'll stop by the park at some point Sunday.

"...And pitching for the Crimson, Number 8, Lance Salsgiver..."


As much as some have salivated over this propect over the years, especially given his great high school career in Michigan, one can still ponder: why now?
The Crimson, meanwhile, may have a few tricks up its sleeve. Salsgiver, usually a starting outfielder, could potentially start his first game of the season on the mound this weekend, most likely in one of Sunday’s games. Salsgiver pitched two innings of one-hit relief against Northeastern in the first round of the Beanpot Tournament, and his teammates express complete confidence in his starting abilities.

“Having Lance start is one of the things the coaches talked about as an option,” Brown said. He’s phenomonenally talented in outfield and on the mound, and we want to maximize his ability. He could start; the coaches may or may not decide to do it. If he does, he’s very capable, and if not, we’ve got a lot of other great guys lined up. Lance is a competitor and senior—he will throw until his arm falls off. He’s been very effective this year in relief.”
The article says maybe Sunday. That would suggest that we're going Haviland and Cole Saturday as usual (and correctly). Javy Castellanos is in the midst of his best stretch of pitching at Harvard, and I can't imagine why you wouldn't start him. So are we saying that he's getting the nod over Brunnig in the fourth game?
For those of you who forgot, here's what happened in Brunnig's last start:


IPHRERKBBPitches
Brunnig (W)7.041152100

Then he winds up in emergency relief last week, and now it seems like he may have fallen out of the rotation? Even though Cornell jumped on him the week before the Columbia start, and even though Columbia straight-up bad, I was still surprised reading this that a start like that doesn't keep Brunnig in the rotation--especially since Salsgiver's got one career collegiate start to his name, also against Brown and not a full start in any real sense.

Here's my theory.
Sunday: Periods of showers, mainly after noon. High near 49. Breezy, with a east wind between 16 and 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Walsh wants five starters at the ready given the reasonable likelihood that a game gets interrupted and the series takes until Monday to finish. Wouldn't be the first time. And he probably feels more comfortable taking his chances with Brunnig/Salsgiver at the back-end at this point than with Unger, Watson, Dukovich, Bruton et al. I'm guessing we wouldn't be hearing talk of Lance starting if the weather forecast were different.

As with everything else, I will likely be wrong. Salsgiver probably just threw a tremendous bullpen this week or something.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Joe Walsh really, really, really wants to win next Tuesday.

Fun stuff from a solid McPhillips gamer:
LYNN, MASS.—Minutes after the final out of yesterday’s first Beanpot contest on Boston’s North Shore, Harvard baseball coach Joe Walsh couldn’t help himself.

First, the Crimson dispatched Northeastern by a smooth 8-5 score, sending to next week’s consolation game “the best team,” according to Walsh, that “we’ve beaten this year, in my estimation.”

Then the coach testified to the allure of a shiny relic.

“That trophy’s been sitting next to me since I got it, and it hasn’t moved,” he said, referring to the Beanpot, which Harvard captured last year for the first time. “And I’m hoping to look at it next year, you know?”
Once upon a time, Brian Fallon and I quietly wondered whether the Beanpot mattered very much to the coaches. Between this and the fact that it'll be B.C., I think it's safe to say that this one will. And on top of this, you've got Steffan Wilson talking about a Beanpot dynasty...
“It’s going to be unbelievable under the lights out there,” Wilson said. “It’d be great to win two in a row and maybe start a dynasty-type deal, you know?”
You know what? I like it. Go ahead and care about this. It didn't hurt a bit last year.
Meanwhile, Matt Brunnig continues to produce at the plate:
Brunnig, who also executed a textbook suicide squeeze in the third inning, notched his seventh RBI of the season in just his 35th at-bat.

Brunnig’s first three years were marked by inconsistency as an ambidextrous pitcher, but the senior has found success this season as both a right-handed starter and a valuable hitting option.

“He’s coming along, you know?” Walsh said. “We’re trying to take what he’s been doing in [batting practice] onto the field, but we’re staying with him because he’s having such good at bats.”
Those of you who called Matt Brunnig muscling some of the more heralded new bats out of the regular lineup at the start of the season can collect your prizes. Now, do we get to see what he can do against Brown?
Also, Frank Herrmann says it's hard out here for a pitcher.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Beast Hampton

Hampton Foushee threw four strong innings in the longest outing of his career and his first start, Josh Klimkiewicz homered and the Crimson made its way back to the Beanpot Final by beating Northeastern, 8-5, in Lynn. Foushee didn't stay on long enough to get the win, but he left with a 3-1 lead. It's a nicer note to go into another Ivy weekend on than loisng to BC, and perhaps Harvard will get a chance to avenge that loss next week at Fenway. BC and UMass are playing right now.

UPDATE: Yep, it'll be Boston College.

Lynn, Lynn, City of Sin ...

...Foushee sets out for his first college win.

Beanpot title defense begins NOW at Fraser Field. Get your live stats here or listen to the game on Northeastern student radio.

Javy C. named to Ivy Honor Roll

Good job by him.

The Crimson also had a very nice Alex McPhillips column on Wes Cosgriff and Larry Lucchino today:
For the first time, Lucchino shook the hand of Wes Cosgriff.

In March of last year, Cosgriff, a big, 6’7 left-hander for the Harvard team, sat slumped and emotionless on the couch at his home in the New York area, doing absolutely nothing. After months of treatment, he was mired in his third cycle of chemotherapy for testicular cancer.

And at one of the worst times of his life, he said, he received an unexpected gift from an apparently anonymous source. His mother, Elyse, dropped a care package from the mail in front of him. A big care package.

“It was just this huge box from the Boston Red Sox,” he said. “I didn’t know anybody from the Boston Red Sox.”

In the box: a jacket, a shirt, a hat, a DVD of the team’s championship season, a baseball, and the last part—the best part—a letter. Lucchino, a man whom Cosgriff had never met, had himself survived cancer against the odds. Twice—in the mid-80’s with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, for which he received a bone marrow transplant, and in the 90’s for prostate cancer—Lucchino had experienced the twin hells of cancer and chemo.

Lucchino’s long letter to Cosgriff, in which he described his own battles and offered hope, put the Harvard junior in unpredictably happy straits. His invitation to watch a Red Sox game in the owner’s box, since fulfilled—“the only way to watch a game at Fenway,” Cosgriff said with a smile—made it great to think about life after cancer.

“It meant more to me then,” Cosgriff said, “than I could have imagined at the time.”

Cosgriff put down the letter and climbed into the shirts, the hat, and the jacket. There he was, a 6’7 living-room advertisement. Then he sat. "Just sat there," he said.

“I had nothing else to do. It made my day,” he said. ”I just forgot about everything else.”

Monday, April 17, 2006

Crimson coverage...

...here. Not much beyond the recap. We do get this, the last word on what actually went down at the end of Game 2, which is exactly as a commenter had said:
Then, in the bottom of the last, the infield converted a misplayed, bases-loaded pop-up into a game-ending double play. After some confusion regarding the infield fly rule, which was in fact in effect, the shallow fly dropped in fair in short left field, but Wilson alertly flipped the ball to Brown, who applied the tag to the runner leading off third to end the inning and returned the ball to Wilson for a superfluous tag out.

“The call from the umpire was infield fly rule was in effect if it was fair,” Brown said. “It came down fair by a couple of inches. Steffan and I had the old 5-6-5 triple play where only two of the outs counted.”
Beanpot tomorrow. Northeastern's coming off a win over No. 16 Old Dominion to salvage a three-game series.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Princeton sweeps Columbia

Er, got lucky?

Harvard loses, 10-8

...splitting the weekend series. What an odd weekend this has been. This game featured really rough outings for Unger, Warren and Cole and then three sparkling innings from 2005 All Ivy reliever Steffan Wilson (who hadn't pitched much at all this season) and two from Lance Salsgiver. If there's any way the Crimson can get innings out of these guys in a pinch consistently down the stretch, this is a much scarier team.

Perhaps we'll also be left wondering why Brunnig wasn't saved for the fourth game start after his spectacular start the previous week (especially since Unger was very strong in relief that same game), particularly if it seems that Salsgiver and Wilson were also available to pitch in the second game yesterday. But maybe that wasn't the case. And who's to say the net result wouldn't have been the same, since Brunnig's mastery in relief kept the Crimson in the game in yesterday's nightcap. They got a win out of him this weekend.

Very, very interested to see what the Crimson has to say about these matters, and Adam Cole, tomorrow. For now, there's at least the fact that Harvard has not lost any ground. Brown dropped three of four over the weekend to Dartmouth. Dartmouth and Harvard are now 9-3, Brown and Yale 8-4.

A note: The single-season Harvard record for stolen bases is 34, set by Howard Burns in 1927. The Ivy-era Harvard record is Hal Carey's 25. Matt Vance has 22. Ten regular season games remain, with the possibility of more.

The Beanpot starts this week, with your defending Beanpot Champions taking on Northeastern in Lynn, Mass. on Tuesday. I won't be there, but I hope WHRB will.

Game on!

Harvard-Yale baseball is on here. Not sure when they switched from softball, which was on earlier. Yale leads Harvard 7-6 after 3 1/2. Unger didn't last long, and Cole is the third pitcher in (Warren came on in relief earlier).

Señor Senior strikes again

So how about Javy Castellanos, who earned the first complete game win of his four-year career today? Over his last four appearances in league competition, including yesterday's one-pitch save, Javy's line reads as follows:

19 2/3 innings, hits, 6 earned runs, 10 strikeouts, 3 wins and a one-pitch save.

Josh Klimkiewicz drove in five runs today, including the first three, and the Crimson roughed up started Jon Hollis pretty good. 12-2 final.

Game Four coming up, but apparently the pro radio folks are going home for Easter or something... We'll check in a half hour, see if Yale radio steps in.

UPDATE: Yale radio seems to be doing softball, not baseball.
UPDATE: Nope, baseball. Thanks, commenter Jessica.

The cats who swallowed the canary

Mr. Jim Meehan with a photographic account of yesterday's finish:


(chaos ensues)


Speaking of Meehans, Yale's recap has a slightly different account of the end, one that helps clarify things still further:
Wilson, the Harvard third baseman, lost track of the ball and it landed just inside the foul line. Confused because the infield fly rule had not been called, Gorynski attempted to retreat to third base, but since it was still a force play he was tagged out for the second out of the inning. Sawyer, realizing he was obligated to move to third base, broke for the bag after Wilson attempted to run the ball to the mound to call time. [Taylor] Meehan, the shortstop, realizing the situation, broke for third and Wilson's throw to Meehan at the bag beat the slide of Sawyer to end the game with the Crimson on top 8-7.
Ah, so. That sounds like a hell of an alert play by the sophomore.
They do it all again today. Sporting News CT will air today's games as well, starting at noon. A commenter tells us that it will be Unger rather than Brunnig starting the other game. Walsh had said last week that he almost wished he had a fifth game to get his two-sport contributor a start. Now he does.

UPDATE: Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. The plot thickens. Someone who sounds like they were there contributes the following:
It was actually much more confusing than reported. Morgan and Taylor switched positions-so Morgan was playing shortstop, but that didn't get recorded because they had just switched on the field. The umpire did call the infield fly-but he thought it was going to be foul. He said "infield fly if the ball goes fair". So the dropped ball was in fact out #2, Morgan's tag of the 3rd base runner was out #3 and the tag of the runner from 2nd to 3rd was out #4. I would check in with John Wilde if you want to know how it went down. He said he'd never seen such a finish to a game in all the years he'd been watching.
Amazing. Well, that answers Brian's earlier question about why the infield fly rule wasn't called--apparently it was.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Take them any way you can get them

Harvard has won a wild second game, 8-7. With the bases loaded in the ninth, Steffan Wilson (whose double keyed a comeback from three runs down earlier) failed to catch what looked like a pop-up foul ball after it drifted back into fair territory. He picks the ball up, throws to the shortstop covering third to get the guy (Gorynski) there, then Sawyer (on second) gets tagged out at third, 6-5... or did he? I'm not sure whether the infield fly rule was involved--the radio call was less than certain--but perhaps if it was it shouldn't have been. It all sounded very confusing. Here is one attempt to clarify things. Regardless, what should've been bases loaded situation with two outs suddenly ended, largely because Steffan Wilson couldn't handle that ball.

That meant Javier Castellanos, who had relieved Matt Brunnig on that play, only faced one batter. In fact, he only threw one pitch. He will start tomorrow. Matt Brunnig threw a good number of pitches in relief (33), and one suspects that we'll see Brad Unger pitch in the other game, if not start it.

Brown and Dartmouth also split their doubleheader, meaning that after all this craziness, Harvard has not lost any ground. They are lucky.

Cole: 3/23, 7H, 3 ER. This is the first we've seen him struggle in the Ivy season. The Crimson also committed three errors, and survived what sounded like a couple of questionable calls on the basepaths.

UPDATE: Good job by Kurt the Harvard SID:
Then things got really weird as the game moved into its third hour. The first two batters reached base safely on singles to start the Yale ninth. After a sacrifice bunt and an intentional base on balls, Harvard went to Javier Castellanos to face Ryan Lavarnway. Lavarnway hacked at the first pitch he saw and sent a towering pop up down the third base line.

Infield fly was never called because it was not apparent that the ball would land in fair territory. Harvard's Wilson twisted around several times in an attempt to catch the pop at third base but could not in the swirling wind as the ball fell inches fair. With all three Yale runners staying close to their respective bags, Wilson was able to flip the ball to Brown, the team's shortstop. Brown tagged third base runner PJ Gorynski at the bag and then flied the ball back to Wilson at third who stepped on the bag to get Sawyer on a force play at third and end the game in front of a stunned crowd of 638.

Harvard loses Game One, 3-1

...and is losing Game Two, 5-4 in the sixth. The Sporting News CT link below is working.

Listen to the Yale games...

For real this time. Sporting News CT Online is audio streaming the games, and WYBC (1340 AM, not 94.3 from this screen) should have them as well.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Crockett Relaunch


Good news to report: pitcher Ben Crockett signed yesterday with the Somerset Patriots, defending champions of the independent Atlantic League.

The Patriots, who are managed by former Cy Young winner Sparky Lyle, open their season two weeks from today. We'll be watching.

Thanks to a notable Harvard alum for tipping us off to this story.

The Real Real Season Starts Tomorrow

And now, the three weekends that matter. The Gehrig Division's rather embarrassing display in inter-division play resulted in everyone in the Rolfe Division sporting either a 7-1 (H, B) or 6-2 (D, Y) record. With one game separating all four teams, something's gotta give. (Same deal in the other division, and so I echo Brian's note about not ruling out Princeton.)Today's Crimson preview doesn't tell us anything about the state of Morgan Brown's quad and whether it'll be him or Taylor Meehan (above) starting at short this weekend. What it does say is that this week's blowout loss to B.C. affected the Crimson, particularly Coach Walsh, in a deeper way than I would've expected:
“That’s the most devastating loss I’ve ever been involved in, as a coach or a player,” coach Joe Walsh said. “I’m just hoping it doesn’t do damage to the ballclub and to our mindsets.”

But this weekend brings Harvard the opportunity to forget Tuesday and regain its recent dominance in league play.

“We’re going to get past the B.C. game,” captain Morgan Brown said. “The Yale series this weekend is going to take all of our attention. What we need to do is take care of our Ivy League games.”
"Most devastating ever?" Really? A midweek game? Granted, the team managed only one hit, and got cuffed around pretty good and booted a lot of balls. But I still find it interesting that this loss meant so much, especially since I've always viewed the midweek games more as a chance for guys to get live game action in and to try out some other arms to get a better sense of what you have for Ivy exigencies. And it's not like we were throwing Cole or Haviland out there. Maybe there was something else. I wasn't there. Or maybe it's classic coach-speak. But it's interesting.

Yale has a young, happy team...
Schropp is not the only freshman to make an impression on this year's squad. Third baseman/designated hitter Charles Bush '09, right fielder Ryan Lavarnway '09 and pitcher Chris Walsh '09 have all made important contributions to the team this season, and team members said they expect the freshmen to do well against Harvard.

"Our freshmen have been playing well," pitcher Matt Fealey '06 said. "Everyone has just been doing what we've needed them to do. We have a good shot if we come out and play our best game and everyone continues playing the way they are."

The team has been performing well recently, handily defeating Penn and Cornell and splitting doubleheaders against Princeton and Columbia.

"Everyone is pepped up and playing well," Fealey said. "The guys are filling positions well. Some of the players who might not have had the chance to play at the beginning of the season have really stepped up."
...and a healthy respect for its rival.
Team members said they think Harvard will pose a challenge both offensively and defensively.

"[Harvard] is a really good team," Rasmussen said. "They've always put a good team together on field and performed well. It's going to be really competitive. Hopefully we'll be able to come away on top."

Elsewhere, Brown also has some productive freshmen.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Boys in the Bubble

Interesting piece here on Harvard's soon-to-be-realized plans to install a seasonal bubble over Harvard Stadium.
A series of renovations slated to begin next month will change that, upgrading the 103-year-old National Historic Landmark to a multi-purpose facility available for year-round use by varsity, intramural, and club teams. The planned developments include replacing the grass field with a synthetic surface, installing lights on the stadium’s exterior, and providing for the implementation of a seasonal “bubble.” The project is estimated to cost around $5 million and will be funded by alumni contributions, according to Director of Athletics Robert L. Scalise...

Work on the stadium would begin next month and be completed in time for the fall 2006 football season, Scalise says...

The bubble will help alleviate an annual space crunch during long Northeast winters, which force the varsity baseball and softball teams to use Lavietes Pavilion or the Palmer Dixon Tennis Courts as practice facilities. Recent upgrades to Palmer Dixon, including the installation of synthetic turf, have helped ease the space problem. But the “winter fieldhouse solution” of the bubble is “one of the things we’re lacking right now,” Scalise says.


Are we happy? Sounds like we're happy:
The proposed renovations have also been met with approval by the varsity teams affected.

Harvard baseball coach Joe Walsh called the addition of the bubble “huge,” saying that the 100-yard winter fieldhouse will not only help his team—which has in the past practiced in the cramped confines of Palmer Dixon or Lavietes—but also his recruiting pitch.

“We’ve got a kid from Florida, two kids from the West Coast, and a kid from Arizona coming in next year,” Walsh says, “and it’s so nice to tell those guys, you know, this is what we’ve got. We’re going to be playing baseball, but it’s going to be indoors.”


Just what Harvard needed, another selling point for recruits.

Crockett and Birtwell

Two of the great pitchers of the modern era of Harvard baseball were released by their professional organizations in recent weeks, Ben Crockett '02 by the Rockies and John Birtwell '01 by the Tigers.

Can you count the Crockett memories? I remember the 17-strikeout game. I remember the time he came out of the bullpen to nail down a pivotal inning against Brown. I've never seen a pitcher carry a team over a stretch of games on any level like Ben Crockett over the last three weeks of the 2002 Ivy League season, the Crimson's return to glory. I remember the no-hitter against Dartmouth the season earlier in what turned out to be a meaningless game, the fourth game in the four-game series against Dartmouth, and ultimately feeling there was no way that game would've been meaningless had Crockett only gotten to throw one of the first games the day before in Hanover. I remember Crockett's final start, an NCAA Regional loss to Washington in Houston, and shaking his hand afterward, letting him know how much I enjoyed watching him pitch--something I wasn't generally inclined to do, but felt I had to as his Crimson career quietly ended. He was very gracious. Crockett and Chris Young were Ivy Co-Rookies of the Year in 1999, and I figured Crockett might also wind up in the Show one day, if only for a while. Injuries were unkind to him.

As for John Birtwell--well, Sonia, the Winthrop House dining hall checker still talks about him. So does anybody who saw him pitch. The sidearm delivery was almost as painful to watch as it must've been to face, but nobody fought harder. He was the team's obvious soul in 2001. And despite all of the standout Crockett moments I mentioned above, I suspect that years from now, Birtwell's 10 innings (in the early Ivy game, scheduled for 7) in a loss against Dartmouth after stepping in in relief the previous afternoon might reign as the signature pitching performance of Harvard baseball in my eyes. Joe Walsh once said of him, "If you could get a group of high school kids together, you’d just videotape [Birtwell] and show it to them. Then you could say ‘This is what a competitor is. This is what a battler is.’" As it happens, Shawn Haviland and Adam Cole were high schoolers right around that time, or a few short months thereafter. You've undoubtedly heard the name, gents. That's what a competitor was. That's what a battler was. We can only hope that someday we'll speak of you guys with similar reverence as Crockett and Birtwell. I think we might. But it'll be because of a lot more than you striking guys out.

Once upon a time, John Birtwell was the Tigers' Minor League Player of the Year, and Crockett was a 3rd round draft pick. Sometime before that, they weaved wonderful memories for themselves, their teammates and anyone else who cared to cross the bridge to Allston. I don't know what they want to do now, but if they're looking for another game, I sure hope they get it.

* * *

Congratulations to Cole, Ivy Rookie of the Week again, and Stefan Wilson, this week's Harvard rep on the Ivy Honor Roll.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

More from Frank Herrmann

Be sure to check out the latest entry in his professional diary. Frank, if you read us: Take copious notes. There's a book contract in this for you, and you are a fun read.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Midweek malaise

Well, it's a midweek game. And that's about all we've got on this one.

Follow today's game at BC

Online through CSTV Gametracker here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Crimson Coverage Highlights


With the winter sports out of the way, baseball has ascended to weekly featured status in the Crimson's Monday sports section, garnering a healthy four stories this week. Some highlights:
* Matt Vance does indeed have a torn labrum, but in a borderline ironic development, has torn it so thoroughly that it shouldn't prevent him from playing center field:
The sophomore speedster will remain a fixture at the top of the Crimson order and will continue to man the outfield, rather than slide into the designated hitter’s slot as once speculated.

Doctors have informed him that his labrum has been torn to the point where it cannot suffer any further damage, and so he will undergo shoulder surgery after the season and then begin a summer-long rehabilitation process, which should leave him ready for the fall of 2006...
Fielding, however, might be a somewhat different story. Although Vance showed no problems defensively in center against Columbia—he even dived on the grass on a handful of occasions—he said his throwing has noticeably suffered.

“I just can’t get a whole lot on the ball,” he said. “Everyone says I’m throwing it fine, but it hurts, a lot.”
Huh. Okay. Although it's unfortunate that the injury will keep the incredibly promising sophomore out of summer ball, we're naturally thrilled to hear that his blazing speed and baserunning savvy will remain at Harvard's disposal. I guess the lesson is, if you're gonna tear your labrum, do a complete job. (Warning: May not work for pitchers.)
* The best description of Adam Cole's early Ivy beastliness, courtesy of fellow ace Shawn Haviland:
Haviland struggled to find words for Cole’s recent success.

“He’s just...I guess I probably can’t swear,” Haviland said, adding, “I was impressed with him. For a freshman to come out there two games in a row like that—I mean, they didn’t have shot all day.”

* Morgan Brown remains day to day with his injured quad.
* Mere weeks ago, we worried about finding four starters capable of taking the hill for the all-important weekend games. Suddenly, we've got five:
Sophomore Brad Unger finished the game for the Crimson, recording all six of his outs via strikeout.

“When your starters are giving you such quality starts as we got from [Castellanos] and Brunnig,” Walsh said, “Unger came in and had six punchouts in two innings and you’re wishing you had a fifth game to throw him.”

* Finally, Harvey Mansfield, author of "Manliness" and renouned coot, was at the Columbia doubleheader on Sunday. He witnessed the manliest event of the weekend--Matt Kramer's hard (but clean) slide into second that took out a Lion infielder--and the least manly event, Columbia missing Kramer three times in the same at-bat in a lame attempt at retaliation.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Rude hosts

Looks like we've got a sweep. Harvard won the opener 13-5 and is already up 5-0 in the bottom of the first inning. Lance Salsgiver is not playing, presumably due to the stolen base episode in the first game.

UPDATE: Sweep. Spectacular pitching from Brunnig and Unger. Meanwhile, all the Rolfe teams swept except Dartmouth, which dropped an early game to Penn. Brown-Cornell and Yale-Princeton still have to make up doubleheaders, but it seems that the Gehrig Division as a whole is a long way behind its neighbor to the north.

Harvard leads 12-2

...or did, when I left. Castellanos had at one point retired 11 straight. Steffan Wilson hit his first O'Donnell home run. Morgan Brown, who had been taken out late in Game 2 yesterday, didn't play the first game. Word in the stands is some sort of quad issue. The only interesting story line in this one was catcher Matt Kramer's hard slide into second to break up a double play early in the game, injuring Columbia's 2B, and the message pitches that have ensued. Also, Lance Salsgiver stole a base with the Crimson up big, and was taken and chewed out shortly thereafter.

A note about O'Donnell scores and updates

The phone lines won't be fixed for today's games, so we probably won't have much to tell you until after both games. For the same reason, there will not be a radio broadcast.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Harvard wins, 7-0

Kinda stings to hold Penn to one run over 16 innings and walk away with a mere split, but such is life. Matt Vance played center both games. Castellanos and Brunnig get the starts tomorrow. Matt Brunnig appears to be a pretty good hitter, watching him. More once my fingers unfreeze.

Harvard loses, 1-0

Penn's Sean Abate, who had made all of two starts on the mound for the Quakers this year, has shut out the Crimson in Game One. My man at the scene says that Haviland looked dominant, especially with the curve, through six, and then Penn just started driving balls in the seventh, making great contact even on the first two outs... A huge win for the Penn program and new coach John Cole, to be sure. Meanwhile, Dartmouth emerged from a similar duel victorious with a 1-0 win over Columbia, and the Yale-Cornell and Brown-Princeton Rolfe-hosted doubleheaders have both been postponed due to rain.

Second game coming up. It's cold and the same rain is expected to hit the area. We'll see what happens.

Listen! Listen!

Ryan at WHRB Sports informs me that the games today and tomorrow will be available over WHRB's sports link. Which means that this link should give you live game audio.
UPDATE: Well, it seems they haven't gotten their act together yet, and both links merely offer hillbilly music...
UPDATE 2: It's 0-0 in the fifth with Haviland on the mound. Maybe the WHRB guys were only planning on doing the second game? Who knows.
UPDATE 3: Ryan tells me that Harvard athletics had apparently left their phone outlets exposed to the elements since last summer, and so none are working. This explains the lack of Gamecast as well.

A commenter informs us that Matt Vance will in fact be back in the lineup today.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The new scoreboard


Pretty sweet, especially compared to the old one. The hit/error indicator and inning-by-inning trackers were needed touches. And you gotta like the fact that it seems to be saying, hey, in this era, Harvard baseball teams routinely put up double-digit run totals and could throw up a 20 any game, and we need a scoreboard capable of keeping up.
Perhaps our next poll will ask who homers off the scoreboard (behind the trees in left field) first.

Some cause for concern...

Uh-oh.
Sophomore Matt Vance, the team’s de facto leadoff man—his ten steals lead the league—will be conspicuously absent from the outfield.

Vance stayed home yesterday to visit with doctors about what appeared to be a torn labrum, the principal muscle of the throwing shoulder.

Until Sunday’s game against Cornell, he had been playing through pain in centerfield. Vance denied that he would opt for surgery this early in the season, saying he planned to resume his normal place in the lineup for the rest of the season, probably at DH.

Departed slugger Zak Farkes ’06-’07 battled a similar injury early in his Harvard career, undergoing surgery in the summer after a 2003 sophomore campaign in which he set the Harvard single-season home run record.

In Vance’s absence, the Crimson managed only nine baserunners and two runs after senior Lance Salsgiver led off the game with his third home run.

Needless to say, our best wishes to Matt. We hope it's something that isn't quite so serious, and we hope it's something he can play through. How tremendous has Vance been this season?



GAVGOBPSLGRRBISTL
Vance (season)18.324.377.451181010/10
Salsgiver hit in the leadoff spot today, and I imagine that's where we'll see him if it turns out it's best for Vance to eventually sit. But the injury's been there all season, and he hasn't been too affected by it as far as results go... something to keep an eye on.
Vance was in the outfield through the first Ivy weekend. We probably won't see him out there, so pencil him in at DH for the rest of the spring, or as long as he can go. When Vance has DHed this season, Salsgiver and Matt Rogers have spent the most time in center field. This could result in Rogers getting back in the lineup a bit more... or Salsgiver playing center and Tom Stack-Babich Chris Mackey playing the corner outfield positions.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Annual Long Goodbye


What is it with Harvard, Holy Cross and extra inning games? At last year's home opener, Holy Cross outlasted the Crimson in a 14-inning thriller. This year, in Worcester, Harvard got some revenge, besting the Crusaders in 11 innings, 3-2. Morgan Brown led off the 11th with a double and came home to score what would turn out to be the game winning run on a Josh Klimkiewicz groundout. The Crimson has now won six straight and sports a .500 record.

Boxscore Punditry:
* The obvious question: Where was Matt Vance? Is his shoulder acting up again? Hopefully the Crimson will be instructive here tomorrow.
* With eight pitchers going only an inning or two each today, it's still unclear who your backend starters will be this weekend. I'd have to think Castellanos, after earning (surprisingly only) his second career win last week, has earned a second start. Neither Brad Unger nor Matt Brunnig pitched today. You'd have to think those are the leading candidates. I tend to think Brunnig will be back in there again.
* Brunnig didn't start, but the adventures of Matt Brunnig, Position Player continue unabated. With a man on and two out in the ninth in a tie game, Brunnig pinch hit for Tom Stack-Babich--who had already driven in a run with a second-inning RBI single--and grounded out to second.

Makeup at Holy Cross underway

A loyal reader notes that yesterday's rainout at Holy Cross was rescheduled for 3 pm today. Should have a result soon.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Harvard Baseball At Holy Cross this afternoon...

Maybe. No announcement on whether the weather will hold up. Rain forced the cancellation of yesterday's scheduled Holy Cross game against UMass.
Update: As the commenter noted, no game today.

Six Degrees of Arthur Hendricks III

Former Harvard slugger Trey Hendricks is moving his way up through the big leagues' No. 1 farm system. After spending a second summer with the short-season Yakima Bears in 2005, batting .296 with 8 HR and 42 RBI, Trey is expected to bat third and play left field when the South Bend Silver Hawks, Class A affiliate of Arizona Diamondbacks, take the field for their season opener this Thursday.

Trey's teammate in South Bend--at least in the short term--will be Justin Upton, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft and brother of soon-to-be Devil Ray shortstop B.J.

Hendricks could find himself providing the protection for Upton in the lineup once the phenom joins the team. Still, it won't be Hendricks' biggest brush with baseball celebrity. His most famous former teammate is still this guy. (Note the third paragraph down.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mighty Righties


Shawn Haviland was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week today, and Adam Cole its Rookie of the Week. Lance Salsgiver was also named to the Ivy honor roll. The Ivy League weekly awards are always an interesting blend of communism and utter mystery. (For example, I am reasonably sure that Josh Klimkiewicz, arguably the best power hitter in the Ivy League over the past four years, hasn't sniffed a weekly honor roll since his freshman year).
So nobody lose sleep wondering where Josh or Steffan Wilson are this week. This is pretty much the way these things work. Just keep winning. Congratulations Adam and Shawn.

Monday, April 03, 2006

He'd rather be Fishing

Photo from Floridamarlins.comCongratulations to Mike Hill '93. The former Harvard baseball standout has signed a contract extension to remain assistant GM of the Marlins through 2010. No terms here, but evidently it was good enough to keep him from interviewing with the Reds.

Key to winning in the Ivies: Just Get Lucky?

A little too punch-drunk after Columbia's weekend split put the Lions atop the Gehrig Division, the Columbia Spectator today makes a suspect (read: wrong) argument about the nature of the Ivy baseball season. Arguing that Columbia might be able to ride "some good luck" into contention this year, Jon Kamran invokes the so-called "randomness" of the Major League Baseball playoffs--how else could Billy Beane's 'Moneyball' approach not have yet yielded any World Series trophies?--to illustrate a similar chaos theory in the Ivy League regular season. Because the Ivy season is so short, Kamran opines, it makes for a free-for-all that does not necessarily reward "true ability," but is instead susceptible to outside factors, such as luck. Here is the key (read: most wrong) passage:

The Ivy baseball season follows that same small sample size. Only 20 games long, it brings the same element of luck that plagued Beane’s teams in the playoffs to conference play.

Think about it this way. A ball drops 10 feet too short of the fence, and three men are left on base in a one run game. Maybe there was a little more of a headwind than usual just for that one moment. That little headwind just completely changed the game.

Or say a shortstop commits an error with several men on base—the same error he would have made with no men on base. Once again, just a bit of bad luck, but it leads to several runs on the scoreboard.

Couple that with the inconsistencies of youth, and the Ivy baseball season has an undeniable element of luck to it—which could leave the Lou Gehrig division race wide open.


Now, let's review a list of the Lou Gehrig Division winners from the nine seasons prior to last year:

1996 Princeton
1997 Princeton
1998 Princeton
1999 Princeton
2000 Princeton
2001 Princeton
2002 Princeton
2003 Princeton
2004 Princeton

In other words, the Lou Gehrig Division is the NL East of the Ivy League. Either Princeton coach Scott Bradley is the luckiest man in Ivy League athletics, or luck has little to do with winning in this conference.

Here's where Karman is off: yes, the small sample size of the Ivy baseball season may be responsible for minor discrepancies, such as disproportionately inflating or deflating an individual player's statistics. A hot streak can turn a solid player into an all-Ivy honoree, just as a brief slump can banish a projected starter to the bench (hello, Tom Stack-Babich). But the standings are nowhere near as susceptible to this randomness effect. Why? Because the setup of the schedule--by far the most compact series format in college baseball, squeezing four games into two weekend days--does a good job of ironing out any irregularities and turning the Ivy League into as true of a meritocracy as possible. In the Ivy League's format, a team that relies on just one or two stud pitchers--or on a lineup keyed by just one or two sluggers--is usually exposed by Sunday afternoon. It's the team with pitching depth, that executes the fundamentals most consistently, that wins out. Luck may propel a team to one or two wins in a given weekend, but going .500 has never been enough to play for the league championship. Every dog--or Columbia Lion--may have its day, but you need to take three of four to win in the Ivy League, and that demands more than a good headwind or a couple well-placed Texas leaguers.

The Gehrig division may be, as Kamran says, "wide open" this year. But if it is, it's parity, not luck, that accounts for the balance. And I'll still take Princeton to win the division.

Happy Major League Opening Day, everyone.

The week that was, from the paper of record

The Crimson wraps up the team's spring break with three stories:

- The mixed results from Florida are chronicled here.

- Jonathan Lehman covered the Princeton sweep in person, and reports that, according to Walsh, Princeton coach Scott Bradley has called this year's Harvard lineup the best he's seen:
Senior Josh Klimkiewicz and Wilson propelled the Crimson to a harder-than-it-looked 8-2 win to sweep the twinbill from the Tigers with three combined home runs.

Klimkiewicz rocketed out solo shots in the third and sixth, and Wilson iced the contest with a three-run jack in the ninth that provided the final margin.

“Klimkiewicz and Wilson back to back are pretty good guys,” head coach Joe Walsh said. “You can’t make a mistake to either one of those guys. [Princeton head coach Scott] Bradley mentioned he thought this was the best lineup he’s seen that we’ve had, with Klimkiewicz and Wilson in the middle of it.”


- Alex McPhillips recaps Sunday's doubleheader at Cornell, paying special attention to how Lance Salsgiver's improved control of the strike zone has taken him to the next level as a hitter. To wit:

No player embodied the experience better than Lance Salsgiver, who has added plate patience to his already well-rounded offensive arsenal.

The senior from Davison, Mich. reached base nine times in ten plate appearances, drawing five walks and smashing four hits, including his first home run of the season. He scored seven times during the day.

“I think honestly, a lot of it’s pitch selection,” said Salsgiver, who raised his average to a blistering .393 during the year. His on-base percentage ballooned to .480. “You wait for your good fastball, stay back, get good pitches, and hit them.”

Off to the races


In March, sophomore Matt Vance told the Crimson one of his goals for this season was to try to keep up with Dartmouth's Will Bashelor in stolen bases. But with the Ivy League's opening weekend of play now in the books, it's Vance who's setting the pace in that category.

With four steals this weekend, Vance moved into first place in the league with 10 steals in 10 attempts. Harvard's Lance Salsgiver is second with eight steals, tied with Dartmouth's Jason Blydell. Bashelor, with six, is fifth.

As a team, the Crimson's 33 steals are tops in the league, not to mention well ahead of last year's pace. Combine this with the fact that Harvard's .441 slugging percentage is second only to Brown, and you begin to see how dangerous this lineup really is.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Four and oh!

Harvard completed its weekend sweep of the Gehrig Division's top teams with a 12-6 win in the second game. More of the same: Wilson homered (3), Klimkiewicz went 3-for-6 and drove in three runs, Salsgiver and Vance wrought havoc on the basepaths. We'll have more on this later on. The one difference here was that starter Matt Brunnig ran into a bit of trouble in the third and fourth innings, but ultimately Brad Unger was able to shut down Cornell down the stretch, turning in 3 1/3 innings of no-hit ball.

Lots to talk about later this week, but I doubt Joe Walsh could've asked for much better than he got this weekend, particularly out of the sticks.

Harvard wins 14-3

Homers from Lance and Vance, 5 RBI for Klimkiewicz. It looks like they're having tech difficulties up north, because both Harvard and Cornell have removed the links to the Gametracker and the Live Stat application never budged. We do have the early game boxscore.

It's Brunnig time!

It's Castellanos in the 7-inning game


Well, we whiffed on that one. Gametracker isn't up yet, but Cornell's separate live stat tracker has Javy C. taking the mound. Wilson is at first and Rogers at third, Klim DHing and Stack-Babich again sitting in favor of Chris Mackey. Matt Kramer gets his first Ivy start at catcher... then again, Harry Douglas was in there for all of one inning yesterday. So we'll see.

The opposing pitcher is Tom Laughlin, a community college transfer and something of an unknown quantity. He's given up just one earned run in 10 innings this year.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Fool

In case you missed the link Marty posted earlier today, the Daily Princetonian published this weekend preview yesterday. It contained this gem:

As potent as the Harvard offense is, the Tigers can hope to win many runs back from the Crimson by taking advantage of the team's suspect starting rotation and bullpen. Harvard's team ERA is an embarrassing 8.47, and no individual starter's numbers are worth writing home about.


Someone please remember to send Karl Micka-Foos, Daily Princetonian senior writer, a postcard from the NCAA regionals.

KKKKKKKKKKKing Cole

We'll get to the routinely underrated Josh Klimkiewicz's two-homer game at some point later (as well as Steffan Wilson's recent discovery of April moonshots, one that seems to be working out well for all involved). We'll eventually wonder what it means that Jason Brown appears to have become the Crimson's closer, and ponder the cosmic significance of Matt Brunnig's 2-for-4 showing as the DH today. Let's put all of that aside for the moment and simply say: Welcome to the Ivy League, Adam Cole.



IPHRERKBB2B3B
Cole (W)7.262211210

At some point, we'll go into the archives and try to dig up the last Harvard Ivy League pitching debut that was this promising, and in this big a game. For now, let it suffice to say that I can't wait to see this guy at O'Donnell.
Pretty good day for the Crimson. Two big road wins over a foe that routinely makes it to the end, two very strong performances by the frontline starters and a nice display of pop. Hopefully they can keep it going tomorrow against Cornell, which split with Dartmouth today. And hopefully, Princeton will show up angry against the Big Green.

Walsh mixes things up for Game 2...

...to say the least. Cole is starting, as expected. And leading off for Harvard... the catcher... freshman Harry Douglas. Stack-Babich is sitting, Chris Mackey is playing left and batting sixth (actually, that's not much of a surprise). And batting eighth... the designated hitter... Matt Brunnig. Brendan Byrne, meanwhile, bats behind him in the ninth spot.

So this should be fun. So far, Douglas has scored, and the bases are loaded for Chris Mackey as Gavin Fabian is clearly struggling with his control.

Perfect in the Ivies

Haviland finishes what he started and the Crimson wins, 4-1. I'm guessing Adam Cole in the second game, but pretty much anyone's guess is as good as mine.
Walsh went with Vance leading off, followed by Salsgiver, Wilson, Klimkiewicz and Stack-Babich with Morgan Brown dropped down to sixth, a lineup that I really like.

If you're following on Gamecast, be sure to go back to the schedule page (or through the scoreboard) to load the separate game. I'm pretty sure it doesn't automatically load in the same window.

Oh, and because it's never too early to start scoreboard watching: Cornell beat Harvard's division rival Dartmouth by a 2-1 score in Ithaca.

Rain Delay?

Harvard leads Princeton 4-1 in the 6th inning of the 7 inning opener. The Gametracker has stopped, and given the forecast in Princeton, it's likely the weather has interrupted things.



That should mean the end of the day for Shawn Haviland, who has put together a great start just when he needed to: 5 IP, 1 R (unearned), 5H, 0BB, 7K. He has outpitched Princeton ace Erik Stiller, who got taken deep by Steffan Wilson in the first. Incredibly, it was Wilson's first home run in over a year. Matt Vance, the other sophomore stud, is 2-for-3 and scored on the Wilson homer.

UPDATE: Nope, play has resumed and Shawn is still in. The many limits of Gamecast, folks.

Expect Princeton's Best

The Daily Princetonian expects Stiller and junior Eric Walz (1.71 ERA) to start today's games. You can follow the game on the Gametracker here. If Princeton radio covers this, we'll provide a link there as well. But since the station does not seem to have posted its spring schedule yet, we're not holding our breath.