The Crimson take to South Carolina and Florida for games in eight straight days. (Photo: Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard baseball team is set for nine games in eight days in the south as the Crimson is ready to split time between South Carolina and Florida to play Michigan State, Connecticut, North Dakota State and Army this week.
Harvard (1-7) will square off with the Spartans Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Greenville, S.C., before heading to Winter Haven, Fla., to play one against UConn and a pair versus NDSU. The Crimson will wrap up the trip with a three-game series against Army in Tampa.
Keeping up with the Crimson
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Harvard picked up its first win of 2014 in the series opener at Lamar. Sean Poppen tossed 6.0 clean innings with eight strikeouts to keep the Red Foxes in check, while Carlton Bailey drove in a pair of runs and Ethan Ferreira came across the plate twice. Brandon Kregel and Tanner Anderson both had three hits in the shutout victor as well. After the win, however, Harvard dropped its next three to Lamar, but was close for much of the series.
In game two, the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, the Crimson rallied back from down 4-0 to bring it with in 4-3, but the Red Foxes eventuall kept the Harvard bats in check for the duration. Colton, Martin, Kregel and Ferreira all grabbed two hits and Nick Gruener went 6.0 strong innings once again, but Harvard dropped the 4-3 decision.
In the second game of the DH, Harvard took a lead in the sixth after Kregel doubled to send Larrow home, but two runs in the bottom of the eighth for Lamar put the Crimson in a precarious spot. Bailey, however, grounded out to short, sending Branon Klug across for the game-tying run in the top of the ninth. But the Red Foxes stole the game on a walkoff single up the middle to take the 3-2 win. The final game was just as close for the Crimson until Lamar reeled off five runs in the bottom of the seventh to take the series finale, 10-3.
Last season Harvard stole eight bases all year, but in just its first eight games, the Crimson has successfully stolen 11 bags, and has been caught in the act just once. On the flip side, Harvard opponents have just seven steals in 10 attempts.
The .300 Club
It's early yet in the season, just two series into the new campaign, but five Crimson batters are swinging the bat well, hitting .316 or better: Tanner Anderson (.364), Jack Colton (.353), DJ Link (.333), Ethan Ferreira (.321) and Carlton Bailey (.316). Together, the five have 11 RBI and eight runs scored as well.
Hitting Streaks Attached
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A trio Crimson have already earned spots on the Ivy League's Weekly Honor Roll this season for strong weekend performances. On March 4, both Jack Colton and Nick Gruener were given honor roll accolades, while Sean Poppen picked up the distinction a week later. Colton hit .400 against Oral Roberts in the season-opening series, while Gruener battled hard on the mound against the Golden Eagles, tossing 7.2 innings, striking out six, allowing just five and three earned runs. Poppen earned the Crimson's first win of the season in his dominant performance at Lamar. In 6.0 innings of work, he struck out eight batters and walked just three, keeping the Red Foxes off the board the entire day.
A Look at the Florida Field
Michigan State (7-7) is just one of the tough opponents for Harvard this week. The Spartans come into the series with three wins against top-25 teams so far this season. MSU keeps things close, as six of their seven wins have come via a save. UConn (6-8) lost its first three games of the year, but bounced back to win four in a row before dropping its last five outings. The Huskies are led at the plate by Vinny Siena (.316, 7R, 11RBI) and Blake Davey (.316, 9R, 6RBI).
North Dakota State (4-6) has spent time all over the country to start the year. The Bison played at Southern California, at Murray State in Kentucky and at Northern Colorado, ready to spend its week in the Sunshine State. The Bison have some powerful bats in Kyle Kleinendorst (.387, 7R, 4RBI) and Wes Satzinger (.316, 5R, 4RBI).
Army (7-5) has seen some wild scoring this season so far in the form of a 21-3 loss to William & Mary, a 14-0 win vs. UMass and a 16-1 victory over Albany. The Black Knights are led at the plate by Jon Crucitti, who is batting .404 with 13 runs and 10 RBI.