Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bullpen falters as Harvard falls to N'Western, 10-9

In like a lion, out like ... Rick Ankiel.

Harvard's relief corps, a bright spot for much of March, roared through six more solid innings of work Saturday before its command broke down in the ninth in a 10-9 loss to Northwestern. Jason Brown and Brad Unger combined to face six batters in the decisive final inning, but retired none and plunked two. The second hit batsman forced home the game-winner for the Wildcats, wasting a five-run comeback by the Harvard bats.

The blown save was an untimely hiccup for Harvard's bullpen, which entered today with an overall ERA of 3.12. The relief corps continued to shine even after Northwestern jumped out to a 5-0 run lead through two innings Saturday, giving rookie Boomer Eadington an early shower in his second college start. Jake Bruton, who posted four innings of four-hit ball, and Brown, who pitched a perfect seventh and eighth, gave the Crimson lineup a chance to mount a comeback.

Harvard did, scoring four in the eighth. Three more runs in the ninth gave the Crimson a 9-7 lead. Matt Vance led the attack, with two hits that plated four runs. Andrew Prince and Matt Kramer also knocked in runs to pace the comeback. For the game, Jeff Stoeckel went 3-for-3 and scored three times.

The loss won't help maintain Harvard's rather lofty RPI, but the good news is, Harvard's frantic Florida schedule won't give them time to dwell on it. This is the beauty of March games in Florida versus May games in Hanover. Oh yeah, that remains me: Dartmouth got smoked by this same Northwestern team, 12-2, just hours before Harvard played them Saturday.

Joe Walsh will continue to kick the tires on his roster Sunday against Tampa. Game time is 1 pm. Live stats are here.

P.S.: If you didn't check out Friday's Crimson preview by Loren Amor, you don't want to miss your chance to read some rare sound bytes from Crimson assistant coach Gary Donovan. Donovan, Walsh's consigliere since the "vagabond" days at Suffolk University who for years has played the straight-man during Walsh's postgame standup routines with student reporters, must have been manning the phones inside Dillon Thursday when Amor called to chase down some quotes. We need more doses of Donovan. Perhaps he and Walsh can do a podcast together for us later in the year.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see Stoeckel hitting as that would be huge for Harvard and would like to see Prince somehow get more at bats. The walks bother me because in 53 innings Harvard pitching has walked 39 batters and that will always come back to haunt you. Eadington was on the ropes against Notre Dame with walks but managed to get out of it but not this time. He seems to be over-striding and hopefully that will be seen and corrected. Doesn't matter whether its the Ivy League or the SEC a pitching staff has to get ahead of hitters and throw strikes.

big al said...

Where are the interested Harvard people. I really think that the coaches have to coach these kids. This is my first experience here but there doesn't seem to be much on hand coaching. How can there be so many walks without some improvement? There seems to be some talent but it needs to tapped.