A split this weekend against the worst team in the Ivy League was something the baseball team did not want to have happen. But the results could have been even worse.
After earning a 6-1 victory behind stellar work on the mound by starter Brian Irving ’08 on Saturday, the Elis (15-18-1, 7-4 Ivy) were crushed by the Crimson (4-25, 3-9) — 12-2 — in game two.
Sunday brought another split. Harvard won game one, 9-5, shelling starter Chris Finneran ’10 for all nine runs. And it took Bulldog heroics similar to last weekend’s against Cornell to salvage a weekend split.
The series finale needed a tremendous comeback to salvage a split for the Elis.
Alex Christ ’08 got the start on the mound for Yale. He went five innings, surrendering four runs — three unearned. He scattered four hits, three walks and struck out four.
Going into the sixth inning the game was tied at two, but the Bulldogs found some trouble. Christ was chased out of the game after surrendering a walk, double and an unearned run and was relieved by Vinny Lally ’11. Lally ran into his own trouble. After giving up a bunt single to Dan Zailiskas, Lally walked Matt Rogers to load the bases with none out.
Harvard’s Sean O’Hara then stepped up and delivered a single through the middle to drive in two and, as a result, Lally was taken out without recording an out.
Closer Steve Gilman ’08 came in at an unusual time for a closer, but was stellar out of the bullpen. The captain was able to get out of the sixth unscathed and pitched the rest of the way, surrendering just on run and throwing a total of four innings.
With Gilman keeping the Bulldogs in the game, the Elis went into the bottom half of the eighth down 6-2 and the comeback ensued.
Josh Cox ’08 led the eighth inning portion of the rally with a single and stolen base before P.J. Gorynski ’08 followed with a walk. After Cox tagged up and advanced to third on a Ryan Lavarnway ’09 fly out, Stefan Schropp’s ’09 sac fly plated Cox. Gorynski then advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a Jake Doyle ’08 RBI single.
Gilman shut the Crimson down in the ninth but the Bulldogs went into the bottom half of the inning down by two. Then with Anthony Nutter on the mound, the Elis completed their comeback.
Gant Elmore ’11 began the inning with a groundout before pinch hitter, Andrew Moore ’11, doubled down the line. Cox then singled the freshman home.
Later in the at-bat, Gorynski ended the four-game series with a dramatic two-run homerun, his third of the season.
“It was one of the best feelings I have had personally in my baseball career,” Gorynski explained. “It feels good to do that for my team.”
Without that clutch hit, the Bulldogs might have dropped three of four to the Cantabs.
In the opening game of the series, Irving was lights-out. Besides giving up a solo homerun to Dillon O’Neill in the third, Irving was on cruise control. He threw six innings, allowing one run, four hits and a walk. He struck out seven before John Henry Davis ’08 pitched a hitless seventh to end the game.
By the end of the second inning, the Yale bats created more the enough offense for the senior on the mound, jumping out to a 5-0 lead off of Harvard starter Max Warren with one run in the first inning and four in the second.
Schropp drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single that scored leadoff man Cox from second base.
The second inning’s four runs were fueled by a Ryan Lavarnway ’09 two-run doubled that drove in Gorynski and Andy Megee ’11 after both singled.
With the way Irving was pitching, Harvard could not muster any threats and the Bulldogs went on to win comfortably, 6-1.
“I didn’t have my best stuff yesterday, but I spotted my fastball well and the defense made plays behind me,” Irving said on Sunday.
Game two saw the opposite outcome, as Harvard was able to jump out to an early, commanding lead, largely silencing the Bulldogs bats.
Yale starting pitcher Brandon Josselyn ’09 lasted 4.1 innings, allowing six runs — four earned — eleven hits, walking two and striking out three.
The bullpen did not do any better as three relievers combined to allow six runs — five earned — in 4.2 innings.
In all, Yale pitching allowed twenty-one hits and twelve runs. Evident by Harvard’s three unearned runs, the hurlers were not helped much by the defense. The Bulldogs tallied six errors when all was said and done on Saturday.
The Crimson’s Taylor Meehan enjoyed a rare five-hit game. The senior second baseman also had three RBI, three stolen bases, and a run scored.
On the Yale side, Schropp was the only Bulldog with multiple hits, going two for four in the Cantabs’ rout.
Game three of the series and the first on Sunday saw a second straight Yale starter get hit around. This time it was Finneran, who was coming off his best start in a Bulldog uniform against Cornell last weekend.
This time around, Finneran pitched just 3.1 innings and allowed nine runs on nine hits. He walked three and struck out four.
After the Cantabs got on the board in the second inning with one run, the Bulldogs were able to take the lead — its only one of the game — in the bottom half of the inning with two runs.
But the Elis could have done more damage
After Elmore and Gorynski RBI singles, Lavarnway came to the plate with men on first and second but was unable to continue the inning. The usually clutch designated hitter flew out to left field.
From there it was all Harvard. The Crimson scored five runs in the third and three in the fourth to take a commanding 9-2 lead.
The Bulldogs scored one in the fifth and two in the seventh, but Harvard’s lead was never in jeopardy.
Doyle had one his best games this season at the plate, homering twice and driving in three.
A split, however, may prove costly for the Bulldogs in their quest for the Red Rolfe Division title. Next weekend will be pivotal for the Elis as they visit first-place Dartmouth (17-10, 10-2) for four in New Hampshire. The Big Green took three of four from Brown (13-16, 5-7) this weekend.
“Every Ivy League weekend you look to take three or four games,” Gorynski explained. “It’s not ideal to split but once we lost the first game today we were happy to come back and win the second one.”
Before the crucial series next weekend, Yale will complete its homestand with a twinbill against Fairfield on Wednesday starting at 3 pm.