Quakers Look to Play Hardball with Visiting Cornell
PHILADELPHIA - After losing three of four to Princeton last weekend, the Penn baseball team (15-17, 6-6 Ivy) faces off with the visiting Cornell Big Red for a four-game series beginning on Friday at 12 p.m. Though on an overall losing streak of three games, Cornell leads the Gehrig Division of the Ivy League with a 10-2 record, one game better than Princeton in the race for the division's berth into the Ivy League Championship Series. The Quakers will need to handle their business against the Big Red this weekend and look for some help to draw closer to the top. On Saturday, hot dogs will be just $1 with a Penn ID.
Last Time Out
Reaching the championship game of the Liberty Bell Classic was a program milestone, but the Quakers fell just short of reaching their ultimate goal, falling to St. Joseph's by a score of 6-3 on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. Freshman Austin Bossart collected a pair of hits in the contest while Brandon Engelhardt singled on the first pitch of the ballgame and later added a RBI. Cody Thomson, Chris McNulty, Ronnie Glenn and Dan Gautieri each worked a scoreless inning on the mound.
Following the Action
Live stats for all of this weekend's contests can be viewed here, and be sure to follow @pennbaseball for in-game updates and pictures from around the diamond. As always, the Penn Sports Network will offer streaming audio live from Meiklejohn Stadium.
As mentioned before, Cornell currently is in full control of its destiny with two weekends of Ivy baseball left to be played. After losing the conference opener to Harvard, Cornell reeled off 10 wins in a row before coming up short in a 5-1 decision against Columbia last weekend.
Offense: It's tough to find much weakness in the Big Red attack. Cornell leads the Ivies in runs scored, hits, walks and stolen bases, and is tied for the league lead in triples and home runs. Individually, Brian Billigen is the Ivy League's batting leader, hitting .409 with 30 RBI. Clean-up hitter Chris Cruz matches Billigen's 30 RBI and tops the Ivies in home runs with 11. In conference action, Brandon Lee and Brenton Peters have taken over as the top hitting threats, each with 14 hits in 12 games.
Pitching: Cornell's core of Rick Marks, Brian McAfee, Brent Jones and Connor Kaufmann has to rank as the league's best, with each sporting an ERA of under 4.00. McAfee (5-0, 3.35 ERA) is the team leader in innings pitched and strikeouts while Kaufmann (5-1, 3.89 ERA) has been near-unhittable in conference games, with an ERA of 0.89 in three starts, including a no-hitter against Dartmouth in a seven-inning contest. The Big Red's team ERA of 3.46 is over a full run lower than Columbia, which places second in the Ivies.
That's a Bobble Big Red Bear!
One of the few places where Cornell is vulnerable is in the field, where the Big Red has a total team fielding pct. of only .958. CU has committed 19 errors through 12 Ivy League games so Penn could find itself in a good position if they can put the ball in play against Cornell's tough pitching staff.
Ever Heard of It?
Penn sophomore Kyl e Toomey and Cornell freshman Kevin Tatum were high school teammates at Woodbridge High School in Woodbridge, Va. In Toomey's senior season, the pair played large roles as the Vikings were undefeated all the way until the championship game, falling just short of a state title but ending the season an amazing 27-1.
Here Comes Treble
Greg Zebrack has created all types of havoc for opposing pitching and defenses alike, ranking fourth in the Ivies in hits with 42 on the season. Of those 42, a whopping 26 have been for extra-bases, including a league-leading 17 doubles. Penn's offensive leader also has 10 stolen bases to his credit (second in the Ivy League) and has scored 32 runs (first in the Ivies). CBS 3 and 1060 KYW recently profiled Zebrack and you can find that article here.
Penn's matchup with St. Joseph's was the final mid-week game of the season for the Red and Blue, so the Quakers will enjoy a full week off before ending the regular season by facing Columbia for four games. The Lions will make the trip down to Philadelphia for a Friday afternoon doubleheader at Meiklejohn Stadium beginning at 12 p.m. The next day, the squads will meet in New York City to wrap up their respective 2012 campaigns.