Note from the desk of Marc Sawyer ’07 and Ryan Lavarnway ’09: Don’t make Yale batters angry.
Harvard’s Game Two starting pitcher, Adam Cole, got the message. The sophomore was shelled for seven runs in the first inning, and quickly bowed out so his teammates could try their luck from the mound. The group that followed didn’t fare much better — Sawyer, Lavarnway and friends drilled them for six more runs in the game.
Yale (15-24, 7-9 Ivy) combined their offensive outpouring with a near perfect defensive performance to beat up on Harvard (15-16, 10-6) by a final of 13-0 in the second game of the Wednesday afternoon twinbill.
So what got the Yale hitters, a group batting near .300 on the season, so upset? A Crimson pitcher by the name of Shawn Haviland. The junior righty nearly threw a no-hitter against the Bulldogs in game one — a Dan Soltman ’08 single in the top of the third is all that kept him from the gem. Despite a similarly strong day on the mound by Brandon Josselyn ’09, the Elis fell, 2-0, allowing Harvard to enter Game Two with a chance at the sweep.
“When you quiet the bats for three games, they’ve got to wake up at some point,” captain Justin Ankney ’07 said. “After one hit in the first game, we started off with six hits and eight runs in the first inning of the second game.”
This is not the first time Haviland has pacified the Eli bats this season. When the two teams first met earlier this month in Boston, Haviland threw eight scoreless innings and gave up only seven hits. The pitcher entered the game with a less-than-stellar 4.50 ERA , only fourth best on his own team. Two of his four wins this season have come against the Bulldogs.
“He throws three pitches for strikes, it’s no secret,” Soltman said. “It’s not excusable the way we performed, but you have to give it up to him.”
Ankney said Haviland didn’t look that good, but seemed to get everyone out. Haviland kept Yale from hitting in clutch situations, just like the first time he faced the Bulldogs.
But the Bulldogs’ turnaround in Game Two prevented the sweep by their rival, and subsequently kept them sniffing, albeit at a lengthy distance, at the Rolfe Division championship. The split with Harvard left the Elis three games back of the Crimson and four games back of Brown (16-17, 11-5 Ivy), who won two over Dartmouth yesterday.
For the Bulldogs to have any shot at the title, they will need to take four of four from the Bears this weekend, and get some big help from Dartmouth (6-25-1, 3-13 Ivy) when they play Harvard — a tall order for a Big Green team that has been slumping all season.
If the Elis are to take care of their side of things, they will need consecutive pitching showcases like they got today.
“We knew we had this kind of talent,” pitcher Brett Rosenthal ’07 said. “The numbers we were putting up were an aberration, [but] unfortunately the season is coming to an end.”
Josselyn’s steadfast display on the mound, keeping the team in Game One by giving up only two runs and seven hits, was followed by an even stronger outing by a contingent of Yale pitchers. Rosenthal, Yale’s star closer who has seen limited action this season, got the start and threw five scoreless innings. A pitching committee of ace Chris Wietlispach ’08 and relievers Chris Walsh ’09, Matthew Smith ’10 and John Henry Davis ’08 followed suit — each threw one inning of no-run baseball.
The strange compilation looked somewhat similar to what the team would normally do with their pitching staff during a mid-week game. Except those games come against teams like Sacred Heart and UConn, not the Cantabs.
“I was excited to get a chance to start against Harvard my senior year, the last week of my career basically,” Rosenthal said. “I spent the last three days getting mentally prepared.”
Rosenthal said the lead his team gave him in the top of the first inning allowed him to be more aggressive on the mound and really go after batters. He wanted to make sure he stayed away from walks, something that certainly plagued Harvard pitchers in Game Two.
Though the pitchers in Game Two threw like they were battling in a one-run affair, in reality, they had very little to worry about. Offensively, the Bulldogs were taking out their frustration on five different Harvard pitchers — the Cantabs’ team ERA will be icing itself down tomorrow morning. Lavarnway and Sawyer went a combined 8-for-11, and accounted for five of the Elis’ 13 runs. Everyone in the lineup, which returned to its more usual form after a jumble-up in Game One, contributed at the dish.
“It started off with a couple of hits,” Soltman said. “We put together a good first inning, baseball just works that way sometimes.”
The strong pitching and batting was further aided by lockdown defense. The Bulldogs committed no errors in the two games, the first time they’ve done that in back-to-back Ivy League contests all season.
The change may have something to do with switching Ankney from second base to shortstop and moving Soltman over from short to second. Pitcher Stefan Schropp ’09 has also seen some action in right field when he’s not pitching.
“The switch seemed to be good,” Ankney said. “We turned a few double plays today and everyone played well. Who knows what would have happened if we hadn’t made the nine errors the first time we played [Harvard].”
Rosenthal said there was no way he would have held Harvard scoreless without guys making plays behind him in the field.
The Elis will now have three days to rest their pitchers before the all-important series against Brown. Hopefully, Sawyer and Lavarnway will still be sending messages.