Carlton Bailey has collected seven hits in seven games this season (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard baseball team travels to Texas for a nine-game trip over the course of the next nine days. The Crimson starts the spring-break venture with three games against No. 27 Rice at Reckling Park in Houston.
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Last Time Out
Harvard escaped the winter storm in Cambridge last weekend but dropped three games at the Coastal Carolina Invitational. The bats of Ohio State, Coastal Carolina and Ball State got the best of Crimson pitching, as each team posted at least 10 runs in its matchup with Harvard. A bright spot for the Crimson during the weekend was the return of centerfielder Mike Martin to the lineup. Martin, who had missed three games with an injury, had three hits in the loss to Coastal on March 9.
Bill Decker comes to Harvard from Trinity (Conn.), where he went 529-231 (.696) during the last 22 seasons. A four-time New England Coach of the Year, Decker was one of the most decorated head coaches in the Division III ranks. His best season came in 2008, when he led Trinity to an undefeated regular season en route to a 45-1 record and the Division III national title. Decker was named the 2008 ABCA National Coach of the Year after leading the Bantams to a Division III record 44 straight wins. He takes over the Crimson from the late Joe Walsh, who tragically passed away after the conclusion of the 2012 season.
Freshman D.J. Link has been the Crimson's top hitter to date, coming into the weekend with a .385 average on 10 hits. The newcomer has also driven in three runs, which is tied for the team lead. Brandon Kregel also has three RBI on the young season and paces the squad with four extra-base hits and four runs scored.
Harvard has held leads in three of its six games this season. The Crimson took a 1-0 lead in the sixth inning in its game against Bucknell March 1 before taking a 3-0 lead on Virginia after the first inning and a half against the Cavaliers March 2. The Crimson also held a 4-0 advantage in the finale against the Bison before dropping a 7-4 decision March 3.
For the Win-eski
Senior co-captain Robert Wineski's RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted Harvard past Bucknell, 2-1, in a walk-off win. The Crimson had one walk-off victory in 2012, defeating Brown, 6-5, on Marcus Way's solo home run in the bottom of the seventh April 21, 2012.
Rice (11-7) enters the weekend having played one of the most challenging schedules in the country to date. The Owls have won the last two, both over Louisiana Tech, and have wins over Stanford (2), Hawaii, Cal and Florida International. Freshman Connor Teykl leads the team in hitting at .359, while junior Michael Aquino has added five home runs and 11 RBI. On the mound, four Rice hurlers have started three or more games and each has an ERA less than four. Junior Austin Kubitza is 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA, and classmate John Simms has gone 4-1 with a 1.32 ERA to top the squad.
Series History – Rice
Harvard has yet to beat the Owls in four meetings in Houston. The Crimson played a three-game set with Rice in 2002 and met again at the 2002 NCAA Regional but fell in each game. Harvard opened the series with an 8-3 loss and followed with 2-1 and 13-3 decisions. In the regional, the Crimson fell 8-3 May 31.
The Rest of the Trip
March 18 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 7 p.m.
March 19 at McNeese St. (DH), 5 p.m.
March 20 at Houston, 7:30 p.m.
March 22 at Houston Baptist, 3 p.m.
March 23 at Houston Baptist, 3 p.m.
March 24 at Houston Baptist, 3 p.m.