CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - After a long, cold, windy day at Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania baseball team left winners of nine straight games and with a 6-0 record in the Ivy League after defeating the Crimson, 7-3 and 9-6, on Saturday afternoon.
Penn (13-10, 6-0 Ivy) has now produced its longest winning streak, and is also off to its best Ivy League start in over a decade. The Quakers have accomplished this after beginning the season 0-6.
In game one of two on Saturday afternoon, Penn junior right-handed pitcher Dan Gautieri (2-3) went the full seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits, walking two, and striking out five Harvard batters.
Rick Brebner and Mike Vilardo drove the Quakers offensively each with two RBIs. Vilardo collected his RBIs on pair of sacrifice flies, while Brebner tripled in the seventh inning driving in two insurance runs for the Quakers.
The Quakers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning after Brebner walked and Jeff McGarry singled off of Harvard pitcher Sean Poppen’s foot. The two would advance to second and third after Poppen balked, setting up the first of Vilardo’s sacrifice fly RBIs.
Harvard would take the lead away from Penn in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Gautieri hit the leadoff batter with a pitch, leading to three Crimson hits, and a 3-1 Harvard lead.
Gautieri’s offense would pick him up in the very next half inning, with three straight singles to begin the sixth by Austin Bossart, Brebner, and McGarry. Junior designated-hitter Matt McKinnon then grounded to Harvard’s first baseman, who would throw high trying to turn a double play, allowing a run to score and the baseball still loaded. Vilardo collected his second RBI on a sacrifice fly, before Brandon Engelhardt drove in a run on a bunt to the left side, scoring McGarry.
Penn added three more runs in the seventh inning, including two off of Brebner’s triple down the right field line that scored Connor Betbeze and Bossart. The Quakers final run came on a sacrifice fly to right field by McGarry.
Game two saw Penn take an early lead with a Ryan Mincher RBI single in the second inning. The Quakers would extend their lead to 3-0 in the third inning, after an Austin Bossart walk and a Rick Brebner home run.
The home run for Brebner marked his third against Ivy opponents, while also having driven in 12 runs in league play.
Harvard would tie the game up in the bottom of the fourth inning, getting to Penn starter Jake Cousins with three consecutive singles, followed by a fielder’s choice and two errors. Cousins however would earn the win after the Quakers took the lead in the sixth inning, when Mike Vilardo scored on a pass ball.
The freshman right-hander improved to 3-0 after throwing 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs, one earned, while striking out five Crimson batters.
Leading 4-3, added a run in the seventh inning on a Vilardo RBI double down the right field line, and one more in the eighth on pinch-hitter Tim Graul’s sacrifice fly RBI to center, scoring Matt McKinnon, to lead 6-4.
In the top of the ninth, Penn scored three runs on only one hit, aided by Harvard miscues that included two hit batsmen, a passed ball, and a wild pitch.
After pitching a scoreless eighth inning in relief of Mitchell Hammonds, who pitched 1 2/3 innings, sophomore reliever Mitch Holtz was battling in the ninth and had allowed two runs, before freshman left-hander Mike Reitcheck slammed the door on Harvard, earning his fourth save, with a strikeout and a groundout, giving Penn the 9-6 victory.
Up next, Penn will head to Hanover, N.H. for a doubleheader on Sunday against Dartmouth (5-14, 2-4 Ivy) beginning at 12 p.m. The Big Green are coming off of a series split with Columbia, winning 3-2 in 10 innings, and falling 5-4.