Elis stumble in Cambridge

The baseball team probably wishes this weekend’s Harvard series could have been played in New Haven.

The Elis (16-13, 6-6 Ivy), who are 8-0 in home games this year, dropped three of four games at Harvard (17-10, 10-2) over the weekend. The Bulldogs lost 4-0 and 6-5 on Saturday before defeating the Cantabs 7-4 in yesterday’s first game. The Elis led Sunday’s second game for much of the way, but faded in the later innings and lost 12-5, falling four games behind Harvard in the Red Rolfe division of the Ivy League with only eight division games left to play.

“We’re really disappointed about the outcome,” second baseman Zac Bradley ’06 said. “But we just have to turn the page and look to next week. There’s not much room for error in our Ivy League matches now, so we just have to take care of business and everything will take care of itself.”

The series opened on Saturday with a pitching duel between Alec Smith ’06 and Frank Hermann, the ace of the Harvard staff. The contest was scoreless until the Cantabs broke it open with four runs in the bottom of the sixth. The Bulldogs threatened in the top of the last inning — Bradley led off with a double, and after Hermann retired the next two batters, John Janco ’06 reached base on an error and Matt Stone ’06 was hit by a pitch to load the bases. But Hermann got out of the jam by getting Josh Zabar ’06 to hit a game-ending foul pop-up to first base.

After Hermann pitched a complete game shutout in the opener, captain Schuyler Mann completed a “Mannly” afternoon for the Cantabs with five of Harvard’s six RBIs in the second game.

Following seven shutout innings from Mike Mongiardini ’07, the Elis were ahead 4-0 on RBI hits by Justin Ankney ’07, Marc Sawyer ’07, Jake Doyle ’07 and Stone. It appeared that the Elis were well on their way to breaking even on the day. But in the bottom of the eighth, as Mongiardini’s pitch count approached 120, Harvard finally got to the lefty. After allowing a single to second baseman Brendan Byrne, Mongiardini plunked first baseman Josh Klimkiewicz with the count full. Brett Rosenthal ’07 came in to stop the bleeding, and retired one batter before issuing a walk to load the bases. Mann came to the plate and slammed a 1-0 pitch over the left-center field wall to tie the game, and Harvard scored once more in the inning to pull ahead for good.

“It was tough because we went there needing to win a bunch of games and we just didn’t get the job done,” Rosenthal said. “I didn’t get the job done, a bunch of us didn’t get the job done. They outplayed us on Saturday.”

In spite of Saturday’s losses, the Bulldogs came out swinging on Sunday, knocking out Harvard starter Jake Bruton before he could record a single out. In the first inning of the first game, Bradley led off with a double, stole third and scored on a wild pitch after Ankney walked. Sawyer followed with a single, and Janco smashed 3-2 pitch down the line for a three-run home run. The Elis added another run in the second, and that was all starting pitcher Josh Sowers ’05 would need. Sowers allowed two earned runs and stuck out eight over a seven-inning complete game to earn his fifth win of the season. The righty also showcased his trademark control, throwing 74 of his 95 pitches for strikes and allowing no walks.

In the second game, the Bulldogs stuck first once again, as Bradley scored on a Janco sac fly in the top of the first. Harvard exploded for four runs in the fourth, but Yale responded with four more runs in the fifth, including another home run by Janco. Not to be outdone, the Cantabs came back with five in a controversial sixth inning. After two Harvard runs scored, center fielder Matt Vance crossed the plate on a very questionable catcher’s interference call. This opened the floodgates for three more Cantab runs – a deficit which proved insurmountable for the Elis.

“We came out and battled hard on Sunday,” Rosenthal said. “But we just couldn’t pull out the second one.”

The Bulldogs hope to continue their home-field success this Wednesday, when they face Fairfield in a doubleheader. The Elis resume Ivy play this weekend with four games against the Big Green at Yale Field.

“We have to win some games against Dartmouth,” Bradley said. “So we just have to stick to our game plan, stick to our guns, stick to the things that got us here. I hope it turns out better than this weekend.”

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