PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania baseball team gave up a lead in the top of the seventh inning, only to recover with three runs in the bottom half to deal Lafayette a 7-6 defeat in the opener of a doubleheader at Meiklejohn Stadium on Sunday. The Leopards returned the favor with some late offense in the second game, coming away with an 8-6 win in 10 innings.
Game One – Penn 7, Lafayette 6
A bizzare seventh inning overshadowed what had been a well-played affair for the six innings leading up to it. In the end, Penn was able to come away with the win thanks to a game-ending throwing error from Lafayette’s Scott Kelleher that brought two Quakers in to score.
Penn had grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as three walks loaded the bases and a fourth scored Brandon Engelhardt from third. Austin Bossart was credited with the RBI on the plate appearance. The Quakers doubled the lead in the second inning on a well-executed double steal. Two freshmen – Ryan Mincher and Gary Tesch – were the catalysts with a pair of singles in the inning.
Starter Dan Gautieri ran into trouble in the fourth and fifth innings, ultimately allowing Lafayette to tie the game off a throwing error when he had Andrew Santomauro dead-to-rights on a pickoff move. Gautieri’s toss to Mitch Montaldo at third was low and Santomauro scored to knot it up at 2-2.
The Quakers came back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth that appeared to seal the game. Doubles from Mincher, Tesch and Mike Vilardo were responsible for staking Penn to the 4-2 lead.
Gautieri got one out in the seventh inning, but was pulled in favor of Ronnie Glenn after a hard-hit single with one away. Glenn struck out Santomauro to put Penn within one out of the win, but Lafayette then reeled off four hits in a row, the decisive blow coming off a two-RBI triple to take a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
Two of the first three hitters of the seventh for Penn struck out, but the Quakers were resilient to the end. Montaldo kept hope alive with a double into right-center, and two consecutive walks pulled Penn within one at 6-5. With the top of the order back up, Engelhardt was down to his final strike when he made contact on a check swing and it slowly rolled toward third. Kelleher charged and fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw sailed over the head of the first baseman, scoring Montaldo and Mincher to claim the 7-6 victory.
Glenn earned the win despite his struggles in the seventh. Mincher was 2-for-2 with three runs scored in the game, while Tesch was 2-for-3 with two runs batted in out of the nine-hole.
Game Two – Lafayette 8, Penn 6 (10 innings)
No lead was safe for either team in the second game on Sunday, as the contest featured three ties and four lead changes en route to Lafayette’s 8-6 victory. Despite hitting Leopards’ starter Mitch Leeds hard, Penn couldn’t unravel the Lafayette bullpen and gave up the tying run in the eighth inning before falling in the 10th.
Lafayette scored twice on Penn starter Pat Bet in the first inning, but a lead-off home run from Engelhardt and a Bossart RBI single quickly saw the score level at 2-2. The Leopards struck for one run in the second inning off a deep sacrifice fly to take their second lead of the game at 3-2.
The Quakers powered their way to the lead in the third inning as Vilardo led off with a double down the left field line before Ryan Deitrich connected on his second home run of the season, a towering blast to left that put the Red and Blue on top, 4-3.
The Leopards came back once again in the fifth inning for a pair of runs, before Bet escaped with the bases loaded. Trailing by one, Penn evened the game at 5-5 when Matt McKinnon hit a frozen rope to first that the Lafayette fielder couldn’t handle cleanly. Though the ricochet fell neatly to the second baseman who was then able to throw McKinnon out, the brief misplay allowed Deitrich to score from third.
John Beasley held the Leopards in check through the sixth and seventh innings, and Penn was able to take its final lead of the game in the bottom of the seventh when Vilardo led off with a walk and sprinted around to score on a RBI double from Spencer Branigan deep into the right-center field gap.
That lead lasted all of half an inning. Glenn was brought on once again – this time with the bases loaded – and did his job effectively, inducing a double play ball. Unfortunately, with none away in the inning, Lafayette was able to score on the play and send the game into extras at 6-6.
With two down in the top of the 10th, Alex Osuchowski worked a bases-loaded walk to put Lafayette ahead. A wild pitch to the next batter brought another run home for the final tally of the day. Penn could manage only a two-out walk in the bottom of the frame.
Though the loss snapped Penn’s five-game winning streak, the Quakers will have an opportunity for revenge on Wednesday as they take on Lafayette once again. This time, the matchup will take place in the quarterfinals of the Liberty Bell Classic. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m. from Easton.