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Baseball Lifts the Lid on Ancient Eight Play at Penn, Columbia

Baseball Lifts the Lid on Ancient Eight Play at Penn, Columbia

Harvard looks to move its win total to the most in three years with four games this weekend. (Gil Talbot)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After one of its most successful starts to a season in recent memory, the Harvard baseball team is set to step into the gauntlet of Ivy League play this weekend as the Crimson (10-8) takes on Penn (4-8) and Columbia (8-9) for a pair of weekend doubleheaders.

Keeping up with the Crimson
To catch all the latest news and notes on the baseball team, follow @HarvardBaseball on Twitter and @OfficialHarvardBaseball on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtag #GoCrimson to see what fans are saying about Crimson athletics.

Ivy League Digital Network
After an incredibly successful inaugural year that saw over 1,000 events streamed live, The Ivy League Digital Network has returned for 2014-15, providing fans with unprecedented coverage of the Ivy League.  Multiple subscription options are available to fans including school-specific and league-wide passes. To learn more about the Ivy League Digital Network or to sign-up today, click here.

Weather permitting, every Harvard home game during the 2015 season will be streamed live and in HD from O'Donnell Field.

A Glance at the Crimson
Already with 10 wins, its most before Ivy play since 1992, Harvard has had a great start to the season. With its series versus Army, Harvard also became the first Ancient Eight club to reach the 10-win mark this season as well. In a testament to its vast improvement, Harvard needs just one more victory to tie its output from last year, and two more to tie 2013's mark.

The Crimson enjoyed a rather successful spring break trip in the Sunshine State this week, going 5-1 versus UMass and Army in central Florida. After tearing through the Minutemen in a Tuesday doubleheader, 9-3 and 11-8, the Crimson took three of four versus the Black Knights, including the series opener in the New York Yankees Spring Training Complex.

Thanks to his 12-for-24 (.500) effort over the week, Ethan Ferreira captured Harvard's first Ivy League Player of the Week honor in three years. Ferreira drove in seven runs and scored six times himself. He totaled five extra-base hits, including a double, two triples and two home runs.

On the season, Jake McGuiggan has been a consistent impact player at the plate and in the field. He's hitting .365 with 11 runs scored and a team-best 14 RBI. McGuiggan has gone yard twice and has tacked on four doubles as well through the first 18 games. Mitch Klug (.316) and Drew Reid (.275) also have been big for Harvard in the early part of the year at the plate, while Mike Martin (.221), has been a solid run presence, scoring 13 times and adding nine stolen bases.

On the hill, the Crimson has a good mix of both front-end and back-end pitching. Three hurlers – Sean Poppen (2-2, 8.86 ERA), Nick Gruener (2-1, 5.91 ERA) and Matt Timoney (3-1, 4.22 ERA) – have made four starts this season. Poppen, the opening day starter, has struggled at times, but has been a strikeout machine, fanning 19 batters while ushering just two walks. Timoney has 17 punchouts, and Gruener owns 15; all three starters have pitched exactly 21.1 innings apiece.

In relief, both Kevin Rex (2-0, 0.69 ERA) and Tanner Anderson (0-2, 3.60 ERA) have done well to keep Harvard in the thick of things. Rex has pitched 13.0 innings, striking out eight and giving up just one earned run, while Anderson (who also owns a .333 batting average in 33 at bats with seven RBI and five runs scored) has gone 20.0 innings with six strikeouts.

A Look at Penn
The Quakers come into the weekend with a 4-8 record, but that includes some good wins and tough losses on the docket. Penn took one from Stetson (which swept Harvard in DeLand), two from Lafayette and one from Saint Josephs before opening Ivy play with Harvard on Saturday.

A pair of bats in Austin Bossart (.395) and Ryan Mincher (.326) lead the charge for Penn this season. Bossart has a team-best 17 hits and adds six RBI and four runs scored. Mincher's 14 hits is second best, while he has scored a team-high nine runs himself. Matt Greskoff has 11 RBI and four runs scored and Mitch Montaldo owns a .250 average with nine RBI and five runs scored to round out the top threats for the Quakers.

On the hill, Penn rotates about five guys on staff in the starting rotation: Connor Cuff (1-1, 1.00 ERA), Mike Reitcheck (2-1, 2.81 ERA), Ronnie Glenn (0-2, 3.07 ERA), Jake Cousins (1-1, 3.14 ERA) and Mitchell Hammonds (0-2, 6.75 ERA) – all with at least two starts. Glenn and Hammonds have each struck out 17 and 11, respectively, while reliever Mitch Holtz has been a great setup man with his seven punchouts. Holtz owns a 3.68 ERA in six appearances (7.1 IP).

A Look at Columbia
The Crimson will have a test in the reigning Ivy League champs' back yard this weekend. Columbia has faced stiff competition already. At 8-9, the Lions come in with victories over Houston (5-4 [13inn] and 12-7), UNC Greensboro (8-7) a clean four-game sweep of USC Upstate last week, and a one-game series win over Army in the home opener on Wednesday (W, 13-10).

Joe Falcone is the most impressive bat in the lineup, hitting .359 (23-for-64) with 14 RBI and 12 runs scored. Falcone has hit 12 extra-base hits with eight doubles, a triple and three home runs so far this season. Behind him, Jordan Serena, who shared the Ivy League Player of the Week honors with Ferreira last week, is hitting .351 (27-for-77) with eight RBI and nine runs scored. Will savage has scored a team-best 16 runs, plating six others, while Gus Craig has brought in 10 runs and scored nine himself.

Adam Kline (0-0, 3.44 ERA), Kevin Roy (1-1, 4.67 ERA) and George Thanopoulous (1-3, 4.84 ERA) have each earned at least two starts, as has Mike Weisman (0-1, 5.17 ERA) for the Lions. Thanopolous goes for a strikeout an inning, fanning 22 in 22.1 innings of work, while Cline owns 20 strikeouts in 18.1 innings pitched.  Bryce Barr, Ty Wiest and Matt Robinson have each picked up victories in relief for Columbia this year, proving that the Lions have a solid bullpen once again.  

Up Next
Harvard will soldier on through the Ivy League season next weekend at home versus Princeton and Cornell, after the Crimson's home opener versus Holy Cross on Wednesday. 

PRINCIPLED LEADERSHIP, ACADEMIC INTEGRATION AND COMPETITIVE EXCELLENCE