After getting demolished at the hands of Lou Gehrig Division powerhouses Columbia and Penn, the baseball team is looking to four games against Red Rolfe Division foe Harvard to get its season back on track.
“This is a big weekend for us,” said Dan Kerr ’15. “Our division is close right now, and we have a great opportunity to pick up some wins. These games always feel more important because we have a chance to play a team in our division four times.”
The Bears (6-18, 2-6 Ivy) were steamrolled last weekend as a result of some poor pitching and an anemic offense. But leading up to that point, Brown put together some good performances. Bruno was 5-4 in nine games before its tilts with Penn, as Reid Anderson ’18 got his second win, Dante Bosnic ’18 got two wins and Dave St. Lawrence ’15 recorded four saves and a win. The two first-years lead the team in wins this season, with Anderson appearing in five starts and Bosnic pitching eight games in relief.
Anderson’s accompanying starters will be important in the four-game stretch against the Crimson (14-13, 3-5), as starting pitching has been a relative problem for the Bears. Eddie Fitzpatrick ’15, Max Ritchie ’17 and Taylor Wright ’15 were the other three starters last week, while Kevin Guthrie ’16 and St. Lawrence might feature in the rotation.
“We’re going to go with Taylor and Eddie the first day and then see where it goes from there,” said Head Coach Grant Achilles. “We just want to win as many games as we can day one, and if that means we go to a guy we had scheduled for Sunday, then so be it.”
On offense, Brown has scored three runs or fewer in 11 out of the 24 games it has played, four of which occurred last weekend against Penn and Columbia. Brown has fallen victim to a lack of baserunners, as Robert Henry ’17 and Jake Levine ’16 are the only Bears who have appeared in more than 20 games to bat over .300. Henry and Sam Grigo ’18 are the only Bears who have an on-base percentage higher than .400, while only Henry — again — slugs over .500. The sophomore has put together quite an impressive campaign, but he has not had much support behind him.
“He just needs to continue being consistent,” Achilles said. “The key to his success has been about not trying to do anything complex. He’s the table setter for our offense, so he gets the first look at the pitcher and comes back with information, which is always important.”
Harvard has experienced similar conference results as Brown. Two sweeps at the hands of Penn and Columbia preceded a sweep of Princeton — the lone difference between the Ivy results of the Crimson and Bruno — and a split with Cornell.
Four Harvard hitters who have appeared in 20 or more games bat over .300, while three of those batters have an on-base percentage well over .400. Harvard averages almost a run per game better than Brown, which has had various up-and-down stretches of offensive production this season. Harvard does not get its runs through power — the Crimson have only hit five home runs and 58 extra base hits this season. Comparably, Bruno has 12 home runs and 60 extra base hits in three less games.
“Against teams like that, the key is trying to get the first out,” Achilles said. “When they can’t get the leadoff runner on, it limits their options offensively. We need to play clean defense because that’s another key to success — limiting free bases.”
Harvard’s three most utilized starters have not been incredibly impressive: Matt Timoney leads the staff at 4-1 with a 3.69 ERA, while sophomore Nick Gruener and junior Sean Poppen both have ERAs over 5.00. The Crimson’s team ERA of 4.87 bests the Bears’ 7.99 mark, while the entire Harvard staff is better than Brown’s in almost every statistical category. But with similar results against the Gehrig Division, the Bears are not readily discouraged.
“It’s a big weekend from the perspective that we’re playing our own division,” Achilles said. “Whoever wins the most games from this point gets to represent our division in the championship game, so we’re just going to take it one game at a time.”