Led by several bouts of timely hitting and another dominant pitching performance from starter Chris Lanham ’16, the Yale baseball team beat Harvard 3–1 in a four-game series this weekend and increased its lead on Dartmouth in the Red Rolfe division to two games.
The Bulldogs (17–19, 9–7 Ivy) dropped the first game of the weekend 6–2, but rallied to win game two 8–2 and then took both games on Sunday in walk-off fashion.
“Like [head coach John Stuper] said, I don’t think there have ever been three wins where a team bonded together like we did this weekend,” said center fielder Green Campbell ’15. “It was just incredible. All three wins, we came together and had outstanding performances from everyone.”
Catcher Robert Baldwin ’15 ended the first game against Harvard (10–24, 5–11) on Sunday with a walk-off sacrifice fly to left that drove in first baseman Eric Hsieh ’15. Baldwin’s RBI in the eighth inning was the first of the contest, as Lanham and Harvard’s Sean Poppen both tossed eight-inning gems.
Lanham’s eight-inning, two-hit shutout was merely the usual for him, as he has given up just one earned run in all of Ivy League play thus far. Lanham let Harvard’s batters put the ball in play and retired 24 of the 28 batters he faced despite striking out only five.
The Bulldogs also sent Sunday’s second game into extras after a late comeback. This time, Campbell took a turn at being the hero.
With two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Campbell, who had previously pitched in the game, singled up the middle to drive in third baseman Derek Brown ’17 from third and win the final contest 7–6.
Hsieh led the team offensively in Saturday’s games and finished 6-for-12 on the weekend, driving in three runs and scoring three more himself.
“The last couple of weekends I’ve been struggling, so it was nice to finally get some hits, get on base and score some runs,” Hsieh said.
Prior to the weekend’s contests, head coach John Stuper made the decision to switch around the pitching rotation and send left-hander David Hickey ’14 to the mound for the first game instead of Chasen Ford ’17, who pitched the second game on Saturday.
Hickey pitched all seven frames, but he allowed 10 hits and six runs to a strong Crimson offense. The Bulldogs could only supply him with two runs in the first inning, driven in by Baldwin and Hsieh, and they recorded just one hit in the last six.
In the day’s second game, the Bulldogs provided the offense that Hickey could have used. They scored two in the first six innings and eventually opened the game up in the seventh with four runs on three singles and an error. Yale tacked on another two in the eighth inning for insurance.
The combination of Ford and reliever Chris Moates ’16 kept Harvard’s offense in check throughout the nine frames. The two pitchers allowed a run apiece, each getting out of several jams, as Ford pitched five for the win and Moates tossed the latter four.
The two high-scoring offenses came to an abrupt halt at the start of the next day when aces Lanham and Poppen stepped onto the mound.
Harvard gave Lanham a scare early, however, as the Crimson’s third hitter got on base with an infield single and eventually reached second. The next batter blooped a ball over Hanson’s head to left, but left fielder Joe Lubanski ’15 ran in to make a diving catch to end the inning and keep Harvard scoreless.
Lanham then proceeded to retire the next 15 Harvard players to step up to the plate. He finally allowed another single in the seventh, but got out of the inning safely and pitched another clean frame in the eighth.
“I can only remember one ball that was hit hard all day,” Hsieh said. “He’s been unbelievable, attacking the zone low and having a lot of confidence in all of his pitches.”
Yale’s offense was also scoreless through seven despite tallying six hits in that time frame and loading the bases in the third.
In the eighth, Hsieh led off with a single and eventually reached third on an out and a wild pitch. Harvard walked the next two batters to load the bases, and Baldwin made them pay for deciding to pitch to him. His deep sacrifice fly to left gave Harvard’s left fielder no chance to throw out Hsieh at home.
The two offenses recovered in the second game of the day, as the Bulldogs put up three runs in the second, and Harvard matched them with the same tally against pitcher Michael Coleman ’14 in the third.
Harvard added another three in the sixth, with two being charged to Coleman and the third credited to Campbell, who came in to pitch midway through the inning. Campbell held the Crimson scoreless for the rest of his outing.
The Elis were six outs away from defeat in the eighth when second baseman Nate Adams ’16 tripled to score two, and then third baseman Tom O’Neill ’16 doubled down the right field line to score Adams and tie the game at six.
It took Yale two more innings to land the knockout punch. On a 2–2 count with the bases loaded, Campbell’s hard single up the middle scored Brown and handed the Bulldogs their second walk-off win of the day.
“I couldn’t feel my right arm, just from pitching so much,” Campbell said. “I was just thinking, do whatever you can to get your bottom hand to this baseball, because my top hand was off … it was an incredible feeling.”
Playing at the same time in Providence, Dartmouth split its series with the Brown Bears, who are 4–4 in conference under the leadership of a new head coach.
The Bulldogs have a two-game advantage on the Big Green heading into the final weekend of Ivy League play.
“We understand that we have a lot of baseball left to play and a lot of business to take care of,” Campbell said. “We’re just looking at this weekend like any other weekend, expecting to get a four-game sweep. We’ll see what happens at the end of the day, but we’re feeling great as a team right now.”
The Bulldogs will play a home-and-home series with Brown next weekend.