After a hard luck offseason, the Harvard baseball team will open its schedule next week with only one left-handed pitcher.
With the loss of sophomores Mike Dukovich and Wes Cosgriff to season-ending shoulder injuries, junior Curtis Miller—who recorded only three outs last year—will be the only lefty on the Crimson’s roster.
And the half? Ambidextrous sophomore Matt Brunnig, who Harvard coach Joe Walsh says could make his first collegiate appearance from the left side this season.
“Matt Brunning’s really taken to the left side, as you can see,” Walsh said at practice last night, nodding towards a lanky, 6’7 figure tossing around a ball left-handed. “Brunnig’s bigger and stronger, and he’s got a season under his belt.”
Brunnig is hesitant to make any prognostications—he isn’t sure whether he’ll make an appearance as a lefthander or not—and says that it will be Walsh’s decision.
Last year, Brunnig pitched 45 2/3 innings—all from the right side—while leading the team in wins, with four. His ERA of 3.55 was second among starters to only senior ace Trey Hendricks’ 2.86. Since then he has gained 13 lbs., and expects the added weight to help his endurance.
Meanwhile, the squad’s lone true lefty has made great strides during practice, according to Walsh, and should be a major contributor in situations where left-handed pitching is critical.
“He has given the coaches some indications that he may lead he team in appearances this year,” Walsh said.
WHAT A RELIEF
With the graduation of captain Barry Wahlberg—the team’s closer and ERA leader—Walsh knew just where to look to find some relief.
When then-freshman Lance Salsgiver arrived in Cambridge last fall, Walsh was hesitant to use him on the mound. Fresh off a high-school senior season in which he saw heavy use, Walsh was afraid of damaging his arm.
“He was hurting all summer and when he came in here we were really careful with him,” Walsh said.
But as the season progressed, Walsh couldn’t help but envision the arm that was whipping in balls from the outfield throwing from the mound.