PHILADELPHIA – After playing 16 Ivy League games thus far, the final four will determine the outcome for the University of Pennsylvania baseball team’s season.
Penn (22-14, 13-3 Ivy) will face Gehrig division rival Columbia in a four-game series on Friday and Saturday to determine which will represent its half in the Ivy League Baseball Championship Series.
The Red and Blue are competing for their first Gehrig Division title since 2007, when they reached the Championship Series, before falling to Brown in two games. The last time Penn has won the Ivy League was in 1995, when the Quakers defeated Yale, 6-5, in both games of the Championship Series. Penn advanced to the NCAA regional, where it fell to Auburn and Indiana State.
Columbia (22-15, 13-3 Ivy) comes into the series a winner of 14-straight games, having defeated Fordham on Wednesday, after sweeping Cornell this past weekend. Penn had compiled a winning streak of 11 games earlier this season, its longest since 1989 when the Quakers were victorious in 19-straight games on their way to an Ivy League title and NCAA regional berth. Both Penn and Columbia’s streaks rank in the top-10 of the country in 2014.
In the event that Penn and the Lions split their four-game series this weekend, both teams would share the Gehrig Division championship and a playoff game to determine the division’s representative in the Ivy League Championship Series would be played within the next week. The host site would be determined by a tiebreaker.
The tiebreaker is winning percentage against the next common opponent with the highest League winning percentage, regardless of division. As the standings currently sit heading into this weekend of play, the team with the highest League winning percentage outside of the tie is Yale, which would award the playoff hosting duties to Penn, if necessary.
Penn and Columbia will begin their series on Friday at Meiklejohn Stadium in Philadelphia, with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. In between games of the doubleheader, Penn will recognize its six seniors; Pat Bet, Rick Brebner, Brandon Engelhardt, Matt Gotschall, Brian Hurst, and Cody Thomson in a ceremony.
The series will then shift to New York on Saturday, for a doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m.
SCOUTING COLUMBIA: The Lions are led offensively by sophomore Rob Paller (.295, 8, 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 28 RBI), freshman Will Savage (.349, 6 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 13 RBI), and sophomore Nick Maguire (.318, 8 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBI). Junior David Vandercook has 29 RBIs. On the mound, Columbia has posted a team ERA of 3.74 in 303 1/3 innings of work. The Lions have allowed 276 hits, and have struck out 263 batters.
COMPARING WINNING STREAKS: Columbia is currently in the midst of a 14-game winning streak in which the Lions have offensively totaled 108 runs on 141 hits, with 96 RBIs. On the mound, Columbia has allowed 41 runs in 116 innings pitched, with 118 strikeouts in that span. For Penn their 11-game winning streak earlier this year was its longest winning streak since 1989, when the Red and Blue put together 19 straight wins en route to a league championship and NCAA regional appearance. Offensively during the streak, the Quakers hit .332 as a team with seven games of double-digit hits, including a season-high 18 at Villanova (3/27). The Quakers produced 42 extra base hits in that span, with 26 doubles, four triples, and 12 home runs. They outscored opponents 84-40, and had 75 RBI. On the mound in those 11 games, Penn had a team ERA of 2.47, while striking out 63 opposing batters in 91.0 innings. Six different Quaker pitchers recorded victories during the win streak; Jack Hartman (2), Jake Cousins (3), Dan Gautieri (2), Connor Cuff (2), Jeremy Witt, and Ronnie Glenn. Freshman left-handed reliever Mike Reitcheck had three saves.
PENN AT HOME IN MEIKLEJOHN: The Quakers boast an 8-1 home record at Meiklejohn Stadium, entering the weekend series with Cornell. Penn’s only loss has been a 13-inning, 4-2, decision versus Saint Joseph’s this past Tuesday in the Liberty Bell Classic. Penn is hitting .295 as a team, scoring 95 runs, with 46 extra base hits, at home, including 12 home runs. On the mound, the Red and Blue have a 2.70 ERA, with 108 strikeouts in 120 innings pitched.
PENN POWER RANKINGS: Penn has remained in the top-10 nationally in home runs per game virtually the entire 2014 season. Currently, the Quakers are ranked ninth in the country averaging 0.91 round-trippers per game (29 total home runs). Leading the nation is Louisiana-Lafayette who has hit 49 home runs in 41 games for a 1.20 average.
IVY LEAGUE HONORS: Junior catcher Austin Bossart went 11-for-18 in five games this past week earning Ivy League Player of the Week ending on April 20. The O’Fallon, Ill. native compiled a .611 batting average, .696 on-base percentage, and slugged at a .833 clip in helping lead the Quakers to two wins at Princeton, and a win over the University of the Sciences. Bossart drove in four runs during the span of five games, and hit his fourth home run and ninth double of the season. Also making the honor roll this past week for Penn were junior pitchers Connor Cuff and Ronnie Glenn, along with freshman pitcher Mike Reitcheck.
NEW IVY LEAGUE MARK FOR QUAKERS: After Bossart received his Player of the Week this past week, Penn has now received four Player of the Week awards in the past five weeks. The four honors this year mark the most for the Quakers in a single season in program history.
BIG 5 HONORS: Bossart was also named Player of the Week in the Big 5 for his performances against University of the Sciences and Princeton. In addition, Penn left-hander Ronnie Glenn Glenn was recognized as Big 5 Co-Pitcher of the week for his start against Princeton on Sunday. Needing a win to split its four-game series with the Tigers, the Quakers looked to its junior left-handed pitcher, who turned in a brilliant six inning performance, allowing no runs, while scattering five hits, and striking out 10 Princeton batters.With the win, Glenn improved his record to 4-2 this season, and in his last three starts, has allowed only one run in 18 2/3 innings, with 20 strikeouts.
IN GOOD COMPANY: At 13-3 in the Ivy League, the 2014 Quakers have put themselves in good company in Penn baseball history. After producing its best start in program history in the Ivy League, beginning 8-0, Penn has continued to play well versus the Ancient Eight. The Quakers started 10-0 in league play in 1989, in what was then the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League (EIBL). Penn and the other Ivy League teams participated in the EIBL from 1930 to 1992. That league included Army and Navy. Beginning in 1993, the eight League schools have competed in an Ivy-only conference schedule. The 8-0 start in league play was the best by an Ivy school since Dartmouth in 2009. The Big Green started 11-0, finishing the season with a 16-4 league record and winning the championships series over Cornell.