CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — On the strength of terrific starting pitching and some timely hitting, Dartmouth was able to sweep a doubleheader on the road at Harvard on Saturday afternoon, 3-1 and 2-1. Seniors Duncan Robinson and Beau Sulser each surrendered just one run over seven innings in their starts to help the Big Green (17-23, 10-8 Ivy) keep their Rolfe Division title hopes alive.
With the two losses, Harvard (16-23, 8-10 Ivy) was eliminated from the division race and suffered their 14th and 15th consecutive defeats against Dartmouth.
Meanwhile, in New Haven, the division-leading Yale Bulldogs could have clinched the division crown outright with two victories. But visiting Brown threw a wrench into their plans by sweeping the twinbill, leaving Dartmouth and the Bulldogs in a virtual tie for first. Should the Big Green win two games against the Crimson in Hanover on Sunday, they would win the division title for the ninth straight year. Split the two games and Dartmouth would travel to Yale for a one-game playoff the weekend of May 6. The victor of that game would advance to the Ivy League Championship Series.
Although he did not retire the side in order once, Robinson (4-5) was in command throughout the seven-inning game as he held Harvard to a single base runner in each frame. He was just one out away from his second shutout of the year when Connor Quinn belted a solo home run in the seventh. But the run did not matter as Robinson induced a weak tapper back to the mound to finish off his seventh complete game of the year having surrendered just five hits without a walk while fanning four. The other two base runners reached on errors leading off innings that Robinson was able to work around.
The Big Green quickly jumped on Harvard ace Nick Gruener (5-4) for a solitary run in the first. Senior Nick Ruppert led off the game with a solid single up the middle and deftly took second on a pitch in the dirt that only momentarily escaped the catcher. A deep fly to right allowed Ruppert to scoot to third, and senior Joe Purritano brought him home with a routine grounder to second for a 1-0 lead.
The closest Harvard came to scoring in the first six stanzas was in the third when Ben Skinner rapped a one-out single, took second on a chopper to third and slid into third on a wild pitch. Robinson didn’t bat an eye as he pumped a third strike past the hitter to end the inning.
In the sixth, the Big Green added a pair of insurance runs with Ruppert once again serving as the catalyst with a leadoff single. It appeared Ruppert had stolen second two pitches later, but batter interference sent him back to first with one out. Dartmouth did not dwell on the setback as Purritano lined a single to left and junior Michael Ketchmark walked to load the bases. Senior Thomas Roulis followed by lining a 1-2 pitch to right field for a two-run single and a 3-0 advantage.
Gruener, who also tossed his seventh complete game of the year, held Dartmouth to the three runs on just six hits in the pitchers’ duel, walking one while striking out five. Ruppert and Roulis each had two knocks for the Big Green with the former scoring twice and the latter driving in two.
Sulser (4-1) picked up right where Robinson left off, tossing shutout ball for the first seven innings on four hits without a walk to go with five strikeouts. Those four hits — no more than one in any inning — were the only base runners the Crimson managed in those seven stanzas. And the only runner to advance past first was Quinn, who doubled to lead off the third inning and was left stranded at third base thanks to a pair of ground outs and a pop up.
Quinn’s double came on the heels of Dartmouth’s first run in the top half of the inning. Freshman Matt Feinstein fisted a ball over the first baseman’s head for a lead-off single, took second one out later on Ruppert’s single up the middle and scored when Purritano laced a two-out single to right.
The score was still 1-0 in the seventh when senior Adam Gauthier drew a walk to start ths stanza and moved up 90 feet on a Ruppert sacrifice bunt. Sophomore Dustin Shirley followed with a liner to center for an RBI single, doubling the lead to 2-0.
Sulser had thrown just 86 pitches threw his first seven innings of work, but Quinn, who already had two hits in the game and had homered in the first contest, got hold of a 2-2 slider and sent it over the fence for his second solo shot of the day and third four-bagger of the season. With th lead suddenly back to one, head coach Bob Whalen handed the ball over to junior reliever Chris Burkholder. After allowing a single to the first batter he faced, he proceeded to retire the next six batters in a row — two on strikes — to close out the win for his second save of the year.
Harvard right-hander Sean Poppen (3-4) suffered the loss despite yielding just two runs on seven hits and three walks as he struck out four as well. Quinn had half of the Crimson’s hits as he went 3-for-3 with his double and long ball.
Shirley and Roulis each had two safeties as Dartmouth collected nine in the game. A Roulis double in the sixth was the lone extra-base hit of the afternoon for the Big Green.
The doubleheader at Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park between these two teams on Sunday will start at 1 p.m. and will be streamed live via Big Green Insider on the Ivy League Digital Network. Dartmouth will honor the members of the senior class, playing their final home games, at 12:45.
Notes: With the two wins at Harvard today, Dartmouth has amassed 1,900 victories since the varsity program began 150 years ago (1866) … Robinson now has 17 career victories, tying him for fifth all-time in the Big Green annals … Ruppert hit leadoff in both games, the first time he has occupied that spot in the lineup all season.