Harvard won its first series of the season in Houston, Texas last weekend, taking three of the four games it played at Rice University. Harvard won the first three games of the series, including sweeping a doubleheader on Saturday, before dropping the final game of the series to the Owls on Sunday afternoon.
In the opening game of the series Friday night, the Crimson silenced Rice with a shutout 3-0 win.
Harvard started junior right-handed pitcher Adam Stone who earned his first win of the season by holding Rice scoreless through five innings while striking out eight. Freshman right-hander Tanner Smith threw two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and sophomore right-hander Jay Driver threw another two scoreless innings with four strikeouts to complete the shutout and get the save. Harvard’s pitching staff combined for fifteen strikeouts while only allowing three walks over the nine innings.
After working his way to a full count, junior first baseman Logan Bravo hit a double to led off the top of the second inning. Two batters later, freshman designated hitter Sawyer Feller opened the scoring for the Crimson by driving in Bravo with a single to center field.
Harvard tallied another run an inning later. Sophomore shortstop Jake Berger walked following a lengthy nine-pitch at bat. Berger advanced to second on a single from junior catcher Zach Brown and then reached third after junior third baseman Will Jacobsen hit a sacrifice fly to center field. Berger was finally driven home on a single by Bravo.
The score remained unchanged until the ninth, when sophomore left fielder Chris Snopek led off the inning by hitting a single up the middle of the diamond. Snopek advanced to second on a sacrifice and then scored on an error a batter later, giving the Crimson an insurance run to help seal the win.
The first of two shortened seven-inning games during Saturday’s doubleheader became a pitcher’s duel, with the Crimson taking advantage of the warm weather to squeak out a 2-1 victory.
The Crimson started junior left-hander Tim Williamson in game one, during which he threw 89 pitches over six dominant innings to earn the win. Williamson kept Rice scoreless through the first five innings of the game, including striking out the side in the second inning. Overall, Williamson totaled seven strikeouts and allowed only three hits, one walk, and one earned run.
Harvard’s offense was also kept quiet through the first five innings, before opening the game’s scoring in the sixth inning. After working his way to a full count, Bravo led off the sixth inning with a single for the Crimson. Jacobsen reached base on an error during the next at bat, advancing Bravo to second. Snopek then hit a single to the pitcher to load the bases for Harvard. In the next at bat, Feller hit a sacrifice fly to center field which scored Bravo and allowed Jacobsen to take third. With runners at the corners, sophomore right fielder Ben Rounds hit a single to left field, scoring Jacobsen and putting the Crimson ahead 2-0.
The Owls, however, responded in the bottom half of the inning, getting a run back on an RBI single, but remained down a run heading into the last inning of the game.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Crimson brought in sophomore right-handed pitcher Chris Clark for the save. Clark allowed a walk and a hit in the seventh to put runners on first and second with only one out, but the Owls’ second baseman lined into a double play to end the game and give the Crimson its second win of the series.
Harvard completed the doubleheader sweep in the late afternoon with a strong offensive performance, scoring six runs over the seven innings.
Freshman second baseman George Cooper sparked Harvard’s offense early, leading off the game with a solo home run to left field. In the third inning, Snopek hit a two-run double, but the inning ended early for the Crimson as Bravo got thrown out at third while trying to advance from first base on the double.
In the top of the fifth inning, Harvard blew the game open, scoring an additional three runs to give themselves a comfortable 6-0 lead. With the bases loaded, junior designated hitter Spencer Williams scored on a wild pitch to start the fifth inning rally. Snopek then singled to right field to score junior first baseman Zach Brown. With sophomore shortstop Jake Berger hitting into a fielder’s choice, Bravo scored the third run of the inning.
Senior right-handed pitcher Jared Zinn had kept the Owls silent through the first four innings of the game, but allowed two runs in the fifth before being relieved by sophomore left-hander Uday Narottam to get the last out of the inning. Narottam also pitched the sixth inning, allowing no runs, before sophomore right-hander Porter Jordheim was brought in to seal the win. Jordheim gave up one run in the seventh as the Owls attempted a comeback, but managed to strand two runners and seal the 6-3 win for the Crimson.
Harvard dropped the final game of the series in the warm Texas weather on Sunday in what was a back-and-forth offensive battle.
Cooper smashed a solo home run to left field on the very first pitch of the game, the second game in a row he has led off with a homer. However, the Owls quickly responded in the bottom half of the first, scoring three runs off junior right-hander Will Jacobsen. The Crimson got a run back in the top of the second, but the Owls scored an additional two runs off Jacobsen, both unearned, in the bottom half.
In the third inning, the Crimson brought in freshman right-hander Sean Matson, who gave up two runs but struck out five over three innings of work. In the sixth inning, freshman right-hander Tanner Smith came in to pitch. Smith gave up one run and left the bases loaded over two-thirds of an inning, before the Crimson brought in Clark to get the last out of the sixth. Clark walked the first batter he faced, bringing home the second run of the inning, extending Rice’s lead to 9-2, before retiring the next batter.
The Crimson attempted a comeback in the seventh and eighth innings, scoring four runs, but fell short 6-9, as they lost the last game of the series.
Next, Harvard travels to California for an eight-game trip. The Crimson will play another four game series this weekend against Cal Poly’s Mustangs. Junior right-hander Adam Stone is slated to start the first game of the series on Friday, at 9pm ET.