Cornell, Princeton to Visit O'Donnell Field This Weekend

DJ Link (photo Harvard Athletic Communications)
DJ Link (photo Harvard Athletic Communications)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. The Harvard baseball team continues Ivy League play this weekend with doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. The Crimson takes on Cornell in its first two games, before inviting Princeton to O'Donnell Field for two more.

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Scouting Harvard 
The Crimson (4-19, 1-3 Ivy League) won its last Ivy League contest, a 6-3 decision at Penn, and sits in third place of the Red Rolfe Division. Harvard is hitting .236 as a team and owns a .323 on-base percentage and .282 slugging percentage. The offense has been improving in the Crimson's last two matchups, as Harvard has produced six runs in back-to-back games for the first time this season. Brandon Kregel (.297/.350/.440) supplied the team's first home run of the spring in an 8-6 loss to BC yesterday and leads the squad with nine extra-base hits. Sophomore Mike Martin (.346/.469/.500) leads the team with a .346 average and has also contributed six doubles, which is tied for the Crimson's lead along with Kregel.

The pitching staff has a 6.35 team ERA and is led by freshman Matt Sanders, who is 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA this season. Junior Sam Dodge has struck out 16 batters, the most of any Crimson hurler, while sophomore Matt Timoney and junior Peter Kaplan own 13 punch outs. Newcomer Sean Poppen has also been a bright spot on the mound and enters the weekend with a 1-1 record and 3.90 ERA.

Last Time Out
Harvard scored six runs for the second straight game for the first time this season, but it was not enough as local rival Boston College got past the Crimson, 8-6, April 3 in the Eagles' home opener. Harvard stormed back from an 8-2 deficit to get the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth before running out of outs. Jeff Hajdin led the Crimson with a double and a single out of the No. 9 spot, as seven different Crimson players contributed hits, and Brandon Kregel slammed Harvard's first home run of the season. The bullpen was strong in the game after BC scored seven times in the first 2 1/3 innings off of starter Peter Kaplan. Jordan Haviland, Baron Davis and Matt Timoney combined to go 5 2/3 innings in relief, while allowing just three hits and one earned run. Davis had the most impressive line of the trio with three innings pitched, one hit and no runs.  

Scouting Cornell (Team Page | Stats)
The Big Red (15-7, 3-1 Ivy League) opened the conference season with two wins over Brown, 6-1 and 4-1, and a split with Yale, an 8-5 win and a 4-2 loss, at its home park in Ithaca, N.Y. Matt Hall is the team's leading hitter at .301/.372/.373 and has 13 RBI, which is second on the squad. Ryan Plantier (.250/.322/.338) paces the team with 16 RBI and is one of eight Big Red hitters to hit a round-tripper this season. Kevin Tatum (.231/.395/.385) is the lone player of the eight with home runs to go deep on two occasions.

Cornell's pitching staff is led by a pair of aces in Nick Busto and Brent Jones. Each is undefeated in 2013, Busto at 3-0 and Jones at 4-0, and has an ERA less than 3.00. Busto enters the weekend allowing 1.41 earned runs per nine innings and Jones boasts a 2.66 ERA. The Big Red's third starter is Brian McAfee, who is 2-2 with a 3.03 ERA.

Scouting Princeton (Team Page | Stats)
Princeton (5-18, 3-1 Ivy League) has gone 2-17 in non-conference play, but won three of its first four conference games last weekend. The Tigers beat Yale in its Ancient Eight opener, 4-0, but fell in Game 2, 9-1, March 30 but bounced back to sweep Brown by a pair of 3-1 scores March 31. Alec Keller is hitting .333 this season and also leads the Tigers with 34 total bases for a .515 slugging percentage. He has two of Princeton's four home runs and his 10 RBI is second on the team, five behind Mike Ford (.234/.284/.312).

Princeton features four pitchers that have started five games apiece in Ford (2-0, 1.36 ERA), Zak Hermans (1-2, 1.91 ERA), Kevin Link (1-2, 3.38 ERA) and Michael Fagan (0-4, 9.98 ERA).

Series History - Cornell 
Harvard leads Cornell in the all-time series, 102-46, dating all the way back to 1887. The Crimson took the first meeting, 6-5, and 11 of the first 12 to build an advantage it has never relinquished. Harvard has owned the series in recent years, as well, taking 15 of the last 20 meetings since 2004. Last year the two teams split as Harvard won Game 1, 6-2, but the Big Red rebounded to win Game 2, 12-7, in Ithaca, N.Y.

Series History - Princeton
Harvard and Princeton will continue one of the oldest rivalries in college baseball this weekend when the teams meet for the 284th and 285th time. The Crimson has a 139-119-25 lead in the all-time series that began June, 24, 1868 with a 17-16 Harvard win. Princeton has turned the tide on the series in recent history, as the Tigers have won 11 of the last 14 games, including two straight doubleheader sweeps. Last year, Princeton won 4-1 and 12-6 on its home field.  

Up Next
Harvard plays at Northeastern April 10 in the first round of the Beanpot and hosts Yale for a four-game set April 13-14.