A weekend that could have catapulted the baseball team into first place in the Red Rolfe Division instead did just the opposite.
The Bulldogs found themselves in last place after losing to Harvard in Sunday’s doubleheader, 6-0 and 4-3. Saturday, the Elis had a similar fate, falling 6-5 and 8-3 in the twin-bill.
“We knew this weekend was huge for the season and everyone was focused,” outfielder C.J. Orrico ’05 said. “It just didn’t go our way, but everyone played their hearts out.”
The weekend got off to a disappointing start when, in the first game, Yale blew a 3-1 lead by allowing Harvard five runs in the top of the fourth inning. After an early 1-0 deficit, the Elis tied the game on a bizarre series of events that resulted in left fielder Randy Leonard ’03 stealing home. In the bottom of the third, Chris Elkins ’03 and Orrico both picked up RBIs to give Yale a 3-1 lead.
The Crimson’s five-run top of the fourth inning, capped with a single by Trey Hendricks that drove in two runners, cost the Bulldogs the game, however, as Harvard batted around.
“The first game this weekend we played well and we were right there, but we didn’t get any breaks,” Orrico said.
A two-run home run by Steven Duke ’03 narrowed the Crimson lead to 6-5 in the bottom of the sixth, and with two outs first baseman Justin Walters ’03 hit a double to keep the Bulldogs in the game. Pinch runner Zac Bradley ’05 recorded the 10th of his 11 steals on the season, but foreshadowing the rest of the weekend, Yale couldn’t string together enough hits, falling 6-5.
Saturday’s nightcap belonged much more decisively to Harvard. Although pitcher Josh Sowers ’05 only gave up six hits on the day, three of them were home runs, and the Elis could not keep up on the scoreboard. On four occasions, the Yale side was retired in order by Ben Crockett, who threw all nine innings for the Cantabs.
Yale’s three runs came in the seventh and eighth innings when Kyle Misenti ’04, Orrico and Elkins all picked up RBIs. For Elkins, it was the 13th consecutive game in which he hit safely.
“I think that Elkins is the toughest out in the league,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said prior to the weekend. “He’s somebody that we throw the ball to and just hope he gets himself out.”
The Bulldogs played better Sunday, but still could not outlast the Crimson. In the day’s first game, four Cantab doubles in the top of the first inning put Yale in an early 4-0 hole. Harvard added two more runs in the second to extend its lead to 6-0, where it would remain for the duration of the game.
The Bulldogs were stagnant on offense, recording only three hits, including two from Walters.
“They do a lot of off-speed stuff,” Elkins said. “When you get a curveball on the outside corner low and away, it’s tough to hit.”
Doug Feller ’05 was Yale’s bright spot as he entered the game in the second inning and gave up no runs on only three hits.
“The key to my success was keeping the hitter off balance by using the fastball to location,” Feller said. “I didn’t have to use my breaking ball at all. I just went at them with one pitch for five innings and that worked for me.”
The final game of the weekend was another close contest in which the Elis could not find the rhythm to put together a rally.
Pitcher Mike Elias ’05 struck out six and walked only two in five and a third innings.
“We didn’t pitch well for most of the games this weekend, but Mike Elias actually did pitch very well today, and Doug Feller did too,” said Craig Breslow ’02, the team’s captain.
Harvard came out to a 3-0 lead after Mark Mager hit a three-run double, but the Bulldogs responded with two runs of their own off a fielder’s choice and a walk to narrow the lead.
In the top of the sixth, a sacrifice fly put Harvard up 4-2, and the game came down to the bottom of the ninth, where the Elis gained a run when pinch runner Breslow scored from third base on a wild pitch.
With the bases loaded and two outs, however, Yale was unable to bring the tying or winning run home.
“We played pretty well this last game, which, if nothing else, was a good sign of character,” Breslow said.
For Yale, the weekend was disappointing in that the team had felt prepared and confident for the big matchup against the Crimson.
“We’ve done a great job the past two weekends of putting ourselves in the position of being really competitive in our league,” Feller said. “We were excited about this weekend and looking forward to it, and we had two games where we lost by one run. We were two big hits or two big pitches away from being 2-2 on the weekend.”
The Bulldogs play at Fairfield University on Wednesday.