EASTON, PA. – The University of Pennsylvania baseball team defeated Lafayette, 8-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Kamine Stadium to move into the semifinals of the Liberty Bell Classic. The Quakers, who moved to 13-7 on the year, got 7.0 innings of one-run baseball from starter Cody Thomson (1-1) and a 4-for-4 day at the plate from Ryan Deitrich to get the win, the team’s fourth over the Leopards in the last five days.
Penn will face Villanova in the semifinals in the Liberty Bell Classic on Tuesday, April 2 at Meiklejohn Stadium. The other semifinal will feature Temple and Delaware.
After struggling on Sunday against Lafayette starter Ari Kaufman, Penn jumped on him for a run in the top of the first inning. Mike Vilardo started things off with a one-out walk and moved into scoring position after Kaufman caught Deitrich with a pitch. A two-out single from Spencer Branigan scored Vilardo to give Thomson a 1-0 lead as he came to the mound.
Following a quiet first inning from Lafayette, Penn came back with yet another two-out rally in the second inning, something that they’ve specialized in this season. Mitch Montaldo led off the frame with a single but it took a two-out single from Brandon Engelhardt to keep the inning alive and push Montaldo to second. Vilardo brought them both around to score with a double into right field. Deitrich came up next and plated Vilardo with a single over the top of the shortstop to make it a 4-0 game.
Penn’s bats went quiet in the middle innings, but with Thomson shutting down the Leopards at every turn, the Quakers were never in too much danger of being overtaken. Lafayette put one on the board in the bottom of the second inning to make it a 4-1 game, but over the next three innings only put one runner on base, and that came from a Penn error. In the sixth inning, Andrew Ruck led off with a single to break Thomson’s streak of seven consecutive batters retired. With one away, Thomson quickly dispatched pinch-hitter Brad Hopek, and Austin Bossart rocketed a ball down to second to get Ruck on the attempted steal, ending the inning.
A combination of aggressive hitting and sloppy defense in the seventh inning helped add on to Penn’s lead, all-but-sealing the victory. Vilardo and Deitrich opened the inning with consecutive singles, then pinch-hitter Marshall Harden laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move them both into scoring position. Following an intentional walk to Branigan, Bossart chopped a ball to the left side of the infield, but Lafayette’s second baseman Kevin Casey couldn’t make the transition, dropping the ball and allowing two runs to score. Next up, Montaldo hit another grounder that the Leopards tried to turn two on, but this time the throw got past first baseman Campbell Lipe and Branigan came in to give Penn the 7-1 edge.
John Beasley came on for Thomson to begin the eighth inning and sat Lafayette down in order. The Quakers tacked on one more run in the ninth after a Deitrich triple over the head of the center fielder. A one-out Branigan single upped the lead to 8-1. Beasley remained in the contest to close it out, stranding a pair of runners with a game-ending strikeout to James McCool.
Penn enters Ivy League play riding high after today’s win. The Quakers face a big challenge right away, hosting Dartmouth (12-1) in a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 12 p.m. The Red and Blue remain at Meiklejohn Stadium to close out the weekend, facing Harvard (3-15) in a twinbill on Sunday, once again starting at 12 p.m.