Winter Park, Fla. - The game was in question until the final out as Penn had a number of chances to give it away, but held tough and came away with a 7-4 victory over Maine for their first win of the early season.
Leading 7-4 going into the bottom of the ninth head coach John Cole called on sophomore Kirk Hayes to finish off the Black Bears. The righty worked his way into a jam by loading the bases with just one out, but then got out of it, inducing a fly ball to freshman Rick Brebner at third and then closing out the game with a fly ball to Maas.
Brebner typified the versatility that Cole talked about post game, as he finished the contest at short after playing an inning at first base and starting the game in right field. The first-year was also valuable at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBI.
Junior Derek Vigoa also played three positions over the course of the game, starting at second base and finishing at shortstop after throwing 1.2 innings of scoreless relief in between. Vigoa allowed just one hit in his stint on the mound and also chipped in at the plate, with two hits, one run and three RBI.
Maine got on the board first inning off a double from Fran Whitten, scoring Taylor Lewis. Unlike past games Penn responded immediately, taking back the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the second. Senior Will Davis earned a one-out walk and then advanced to second on perfect bunt for a base hit down the third-base line by Greg Zebrack. Brebner was up next and singled through the left side to score Davis. Vigoa followed with an RBI single of his own, but a double play in the ensuring at-bat ended the inning.
McNulty held the Black Bears at bay in the second but they got back on the board in the third. Another walk and double by Lewis and Whitten tied the game and Maine added two more before a pair of groundouts to short kept the Penn deficit at two.
Trailing 4-2, Branigan led off the top of the fourth with a double. Zebrack got hit and then Brebner followed with a single to load up the bases for Vigoa. The junior came through with a two-run single to tie the game, though Brebner was thrown out trying to get to third. Vigoa advanced on the throw to third and after a walk to freshman Kyle Toomey; he scored the go-ahead run on a single by freshman Brandon Engelhardt.
Both pitching staffs held strong for the next three innings, highlighted by a strong defense behind McNulty in the sixth and consecutive outs from Vigoa in the seventh with Penn clinging to a 5-4 lead. After relieving the southpaw, Vigoa came in with two runners on and induced a fly out and ground out to end the inning.
In the eighth, the Quakers added two insurance runs as Branigan led off with a single. Adrian Lorenzo came in to pinch run as the Red and Blue played small ball, eventually moving the senior and Zebrack, who was hit again, to second and third. With the infield in, Brebner stroked a single up the middle to make it a 7-4 game.
Vigoa held strong in the eighth and then Hayes came on to earn his first career save in the ninth.
The Quakers improve to 1-2 overall with the victory while Maine drops to 3-9. Penn returns to the field for a double-header on Tuesday, facing Georgetown at 2 p.m. and then Rollins at 6 p.m.