Harvard earned its first Ivy sweep since 2010. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Thanks to some heavy hitting and big innings, the Harvard baseball team secured a series sweep of Princeton on Saturday at O'Donnell Field, its first Ivy League series sweep since the 2010 season. The Crimson (13-12, 2-4 Ivy) belted out 19 runs on 30 hits to overcome the Tigers (4-19, 1-5 Ivy) in two games, 8-1 and 11-8.
Five Crimson hit better than .500 on the day versus Princeton, led by freshman John Fallon, who was electric with a .750 average (6-of-8, 4RBI, 3R). Fellow classmate Connor Quinn hit .571 in the bottom of the lineup and tacked on four RBI himself, one of three Crimson to do so on the day. DJ Link had perhaps the best day at the plate for Harvard; the designated hitter went 4-for-8 with a team-high five RBI and four runs scored, with three doubles on the day.
On the mound, Nick Gruener was lights out in Game 1, dealing during a complete-game performance. The sophomore struck out seven, allowing just one run on four hits, while issuing just one walk to show his command and earn the win with his meager 1.29 ERA. In Game 2, Matt Timoney took the hill and went 5.1 innings strong, allowing zero runs on three hits with two strikeouts and five issued walks to earn the victory.
Before Gruener caught fire on the mound, the Tigers appeared to take control in the early going. Danny Hoy sent a deep ball to the right field corner for a one-out triple, but from there the Crimson hurler settled in quickly to induce an infield pop-up and started caught Hoy and Belski stealing with a nice 1-4-2 to end the inning.
In the second inning, Ethan Ferreira, who ended the day continuing his now-17-game hit streak, started things off with a double, followed by Link's first of three on the afternoon to make it 1-0 Harvard. But in the bottom of the fourth, the Crimson opened things up with three runs on three hits and an error, highlighted by a Mike Martin blooping single on the foul line in shallow right, scoring both Jack Colton and Connor Quinn.
An inning later, the Crimson made it 8-0 on the bats of Link, Fallon and Quinn, the latter of whom drove in two with a sharp double down the leftfield line. From there, Gruener continued to deal. Though in the top of the sixth PU added one to erase the shutout, it was too little, too late as Harvard ran to an 8-1 win in the first end of the DH.
After a quiet first full inning, the Harvard bats exploded once again for four runs in the bottom of the second inning. Once again Ferreira and Link each doubled in an inning, this time, sandwiched by a Mitch Klug hit-by-pitch – one of three HBP from Klug on the afternoon. Following Link's two-RBI double, Connor Quinn brought Fallon home for the fourth run with no outs.
The four-run lead would last into the fifth inning, which saw just one unearned run by the Tigers. Princeton continued to make things interesting, adding two more runs in the top of the eighth, looking for a late rally as the score reached 4-3, Crimson.
But Harvard put its foot on the gas pedal in the bottom of the frame, erupting for seven runs on six hits, two of which came from Fallon. After the big inning, Harvard led 11-3, but Princeton wasn't going away. The Tigers attempted their second rally of the day, scoring five runs on three hits in the frame. After Sean O'Neill replaced Tanner Anderson, the Tigers loaded the bases with two singles and a walk. Two more walks followed by another single brought in three, before the first out. But after Joey Sliepka came on in relief, the junior struck out Servais and induced a game-ending grounder from DeNunzio to end the scare and preserve the sweep.