Bears Travel to Harvard for Four-game Weekend Series

April 18, 2008

Brown (14-18, 5-7 Ivy) at Harvard (4-26, 3-9 Ivy)
O'Donnell Field, Cambridge, Mass.
Saturday, April 19, 12 p.m.
Sunday, April 20, 12 p.m.
Harvard Live Stats

The Brown baseball team will head to Cambridge, Mass., this weekend for a four-game series with Harvard. Projected by many publications, including Baseball America, to be the top two finishers in the Red Rolfe Division, if not the teams to beat in the League, Brown and Harvard currently sit in third and fourth.

After dropping three out of four to first-place Dartmouth last weekend five games behind the Big Green with eight to play. Any combination of four Brown losses and/or Dartmouth wins in the season's final eight games will eliminate the Bears, making each contest a must-win from here on out.

Last weekend's 1-3 record came despite the Bears outscoring their guests 41-39 over the four games. The Bears dropped the opener, 8-2, but rallied behind a solid performance on the mound from sophomore Will Weidig (Katy, TX), scoring 10 runs in the seventh and eighth innings for a 18-6 blowout win. Unfortunately, the Brown pitching staff could not hold off the Dartmouth bats, as the Bears were swept on Sunday by scores of 9-7 and 16-14.

This week, the Bears played three games. On Tuesday, they traveled to Marist, dropping both games of a doubleheader, 9-4 and 5-2. However, the Bears' bats woke up on Wednesday at Murray Stadium, exploding for nine runs in the sixth inning en route to a 14-10 win over Connecticut.

Freshman catcher Matt Colantonio (Garden City, NY) continues to lead the Bears with a .402 batting average. The two-time Ivy Rookie of the Week has shown a great ability to get on base, drawing 15 walks and getting hit by six pitches to give him a team-high .508 on-base percentage. Not including this week's games, he ranked sixth in the Ivy League in batting and fifth in on-base percentage.

Senior Conor Reardon leads six other Bears hitting .300 or better at .388. Mostly limited to duty as the designated hitter because of a chronic leg injury that cost him his sophomore and junior seasons, Reardon hit is first collegiate home run against UConn on Wednesday. He has struck out just six times in 116 at-bats, making him the hardest Bear to strike out. He is hitting .400 in Ivy play, good for sixth in the League.

Junior center fielder Steve Daniels (Fox Point, WI), a former Ivy League Rookie of the Year, has been making a bid for his first All-Ivy selection as well. He is 10th in the Ivy League with a .391 average in League play, and is seventh with a .491 on-base percentage in those games. He is also fourth in the league in runs scored (12), and tied with Reardon for fifth in hits (18). His 14 steals for the season rank him third in the League in all games. He is currently tied with Tom Vallone '92 for sixth all-time at Brown with 52 career steals, and he is tied with Matt LaPierre '83 for second all-time with 11 triples.

Joining those three with averages over .300 on the year are sophomore right fielder Nick Puñal (Palm Beach, FL) (.352), senior left fielder Ryan Murphy (Mantoloking, NJ) (.320), senior utilityman J.J. Eno (Kahului, HI) (.317), and senior utilityman Brian Kelaher (Farmington, CT) (.348). All but Kelaher have the necessary at-bats to qualify for the Ivy League leaderboard, but Kelaher has seen regular playing time recently after what is likely a season-ending injury to Murphy.

If Murphy's season and career are indeed over, he will graduate with a career batting average of .353, good for eighth all-time at Brown. In the senior tri-captain's absence, Kelaher and freshman first baseman Pete Greskoff (Paoli, PA) have been the primary replacements, and both have performed excellently. Kelaher, who has played catcher, second base, left field, and right field this season, has hit .500 (10-for-20) since Murphy sustained the injury, second on the team in that span, primarily playing left field.

Greskoff has started three games since Murphy went down, with Eno shifting from first to left field when he has started at first base. He was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Tuesday after a dominant two-game performance on Sunday, in which he hit two home runs, two doubles, and a single in five at-bats, driving in eight runs and totaling 13 bases.

On the mound, senior Anthony Vita (West Babylon, NY) has seemingly come out of nowhere to be the Bears' ace. His 3.86 ERA for the season is sixth in the Ivy League, while his .205 batting average against is second to Penn ace Todd Roth, the odds-on favorite for Ivy League Pitcher of the Year. He, Weidig, and senior Alex Silverman (Wilmington, NC) have formed the core of the team's Ivy League rotation.

Weidig has been the Bears' top strikeout pitcher, ranking eighth in the League with 34 K's and sixth with 16 punch-outs in Ivy play. Silverman is tied for second in the League with four wins, going 4-1 in six starts.

The fourth spot in the rotation has been filled on a week-to-week basis. Freshman Josh Feit (Woodcliff Hills, NJ) started the first two Ivy weekends, and fellow first-year Matthew Kimball (Nashville, TN) earned a start last Sunday. This week, that fourth spot figures to be filled by either one of those two or one of two more freshmen - lefthander Mark Gormley (Milton, MA), or Conor Burke (Andover, MA), who have both been solid in relief.

In the bullpen, seniors Rob Hallberg (River Edge, NJ) and Peter Moskal (Glastonbury, CT) lead the Bears with 14 appearances each. Hallberg has three saves this year, giving him 10 for his career to tie Rob Monnes '93 for Brown's career record. He will also tie Monnes' mark for career appearances at 68 in his next mound appearance, and he is already Brown's career leader in strikeouts per nine innings at 10.80.

Scouting Harvard
The consensus pick by many experts to win the Red Rolfe Division this year, Harvard has had a disappointing year, going just 4-26. The Crimson turned things around a bit last weekend, splitting a series with Yale to bring their Ivy record to 3-9.

At the plate, senior Taylor Meehan leads the Crimson with a .343 average, .413 on-base percentage, and .448 slugging percentage. No other Harvard batter is above .400 in either of those last two categories. Unanimous First Team All-Ivy outfield selection Matt Vance has been among those struggling, as he has hit just .248 on the year. Senior catcher Matt Kramer ranks fourth in the Ivy League with a .407 average in conference play.

On the mound, the Crimson's rotation this weekend will likely consist of seniors Shawn Haviland, Brad Unger, and Max Warren, and sophomore Dan Zailskas. Haviland, the Ivy League Pitcher of the Year two seasons ago, ranks sixth in the League in strikeouts with 36. Unger has the lowest ERA of the four at 4.67.

Ivy League Standings
Red Rolfe Division
1. Dartmouth 10-2 (18-11)
2. Yale* 7-4 (16-19-1)
3. Brown 5-7 (14-18)
4. Harvard 3-9 (4-26)

Lou Gehrig Division
1. Columbia 8-4 (13-21)
2. Princeton 6-6 (14-18)
3. Penn* 4-7 (13-16-1)
4. Cornell 4-8 (10-19-0)

* - Penn and Yale have been given temporary "non-league" ties as a result of a 9-9 suspended game due to darkness on 3/29. When the game is completed, the ties will be removed and the official League win or loss will be recorded.