The Harvard baseball begins its 10-game homestand this weekend with the home-opener vs. Penn. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Mother Nature played a role in Harvard's scheduling a week ago, forcing the postponement of the Princeton series and the moving of the Cornell series to the middle of the week, but the Crimson looks to return to regularity this weekend with visits from Penn and Columbia to open up a 10-game homestand. Harvard (5-14, 1-1 Ivy League) welcomes in Penn on Saturday for an Ancient Eight doubleheader, followed by Columbia on Sunday for two.
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A Look at the Crimson
The Crimson enters the weekend looking to give itself an advantage in Ancient Eight play after starting the conference slate 1-1. A trio of Crimson has started in the field all 19 games this season, each of whom bring a fair amount of production at the plate as well. Mike Martin (.247/.314/.325) in center, Mitch Klug (.242/.256/.258) at third and Kyle Larrow (.289/.341/.329) at second have all seen every game for Harvard.
In 14 appearances, utility player Carlton Bailey paces the Crimson with his .385 batting average, adding seven RBI and three runs scored. Co-captain Jack Colton is batting .269 and has plated a team-best 10 RBI, scoring five times himself. Seeing all but one game in right (the outlier coming in a DH appearance) is Brandon Kregel, who is hitting .258 but has brought home nine runs on his 17 hits, five of which have been for doubles.
On the bump, the Crimson features a deadly quartet of starters in sophomore Sean Poppen (2-1, 1.44 ERA), freshman Nick Gruener (0-1, 4.55 ERA), junior Tanner Anderson (1-1, 2.70 ERA) and senior Sam Dodge (0-2, 5.40 ERA). In six appearances, including a start, junior Matt Timoney has earned a 2-2 record with a 3.27 ERA. Poppen and Gruener are tied for first in strikeouts this season for the Crimson hurlers, punching out 21 batters each, followed by Anderson and Dodge at 16.
Last Time Out
Harvard is coming off a big split with Cornell on Tuesday, stealing the first game of the series -- moved from Sunday to the middle of the week because of weather -- in gritty fashion. The Crimson found itself down 2-0 after the first inning and 4-1 after four, but it kept battling. Thanks to a Mike Martin one-out single to get things going, Harvard reeled off three in the fifth to tie things up, and took the lead on a Larrow single in the sixth to take the lead. After Cornell knotted the contest at 5-5 forcing extras, however, Larrow plated Carlton Bailey in the top of the 10th, which proved to be the winning run.
Cornell grabbed game two, though, evening the Crimson's first Ivy League series of the year. The Big Red used a five-run third inning to bounce the Crimson, 6-2.
Four Crimson have already earned spots on the Ivy League's Weekly Honor Roll this season for strong 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.
Most Recently, Poppen and Kyle Larrow were honored by the Ivy League after Poppen went 7.0 innings, giving up just one run and fanning six against Army in the Crimson's 5-1 win. Larrow picked up the weekly distinction after his four-RBI outburst against Michigan State on Monday, and did so again the following week after a 5-for-9 week at Cornell.
|Sean Poppen||3||March 11, March 18, March 25|
|Nick Gruener||2||March 4, March 11|
|Kyle Larrow||2||March 25, April 3|
|Jack Colton||1||March 4|
Penn enters the weekend series 4-0 in Ivy League play -- its best start in three years -- and 11-10 overall. The Quakers started the year 2-9 but have hit their stride after sweeps of Yale and Brown, bookended by wins over Lafayette and Villanova. Penn is lead at the plate by a trio of sluggers in Jeff McGarry (.338, 13R, 19RBI), Rick Brebner (.321, 18R, 19RBI) and Austin Bossart (.293, 12R, 9RBI).
The Quakers' staff is led on the mound by Connor Cuff and Jack Hartman, who have combined to lift Penn to a 5-1 record. Cuff is 2-1 with a 1.35 ERA and 25 strikeouts, while Hartman is a perfect 3-0 with his 1.71 ERA and 10 punchouts.
The Series with the Quakers
Harvard holds a 114-65-1 advantage in 180 all-time meetings, but Penn has won five of the last six in the series. The Crimson took a 6-3 win last season for its first in two years over the Quakers.
Columbia visits Cambridge bringing a 8-14 record into the second weekend of Ivy play, going 2-2 against Ancient Eight foes. The Lions have seen some stiff opposition with the likes of South Florida, Texas A&M and Texas so far this season. Most recently, Columbia defeated Brown with a pair of 4-0 victories, before dropping two games to Yale.
Nick Maguire (.318, 7R, 4RBI), Jordan Serena (.306, 17R, 3RBI) and Robb Paller (.303, 6R, 17RBI) lead the charge for the Lions at the plate. The trio have accounted for 17 of Columbia's 36 extra base hits so far this season, giving the Lions a much needed boost.
Columbia also brings with it some solid pitching in the form of David Speer (2-2, 3.00 ERA), Joe Donino (1-3, 4.44 ERA) and Kevin Roy (1-3, 5.40 ERA). George Thanopoulous has a team-best 2-0 record and has dropped his ERA to 2.66 after a couple of good outings recently as well to add into the mix. Speer and Donino are one-two on the ledger in strikeouts, getting 28 and 25 batters to go on three strikes, respectively.
The Series with the Lions
After a 2013 series split, Harvard holds an 86-56-1 in 143 meetings in the rivalry, which dates back to 1886. The two teams have split the meetings over the last two years.