Bats Go Quiet as Baseball Drops Two to Cornell
PHILADELPHIA - Matched up with the Ivy League's top pitching staff, the Penn baseball team struggled to unlock the Cornell defense and lost twice on Friday afternoon, 3-0 and 9-5, to drop further back in the divisional race. Kyle Toomey and Ryan Deitrich each had three hits in the two ballgames, but the Quakers were shut out for the first time this season in the opener as Rick Marks improved to 4-2, and the offensive surge came too late in the nightcap as Brian McAfee picked up the win to go to 6-0.
Game One - Cornell 3, Penn 0
Cody Thomson was a workhorse for the Quakers with a complete game in Friday's opener, but a two-run shot in the second inning spelled doom for the Penn sophomore. Cornell applied pressure immediately in the first inning when the first two batters reached, putting men on 1st and 3rd with none away, until Thomson responded by striking out the heart of the Big Red line-up to keep them off the board.
Though the lead-off man again reached in the second inning, a sac bunt and routine grounder to shortstop Derek Vigoa again put Thomson seemingly in the clear in the top of the second inning with two away. That's when disaster struck for Penn. Tom D'Alessandro boomed a two-run homer to left out of the nine-hole, staking Cornell to a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish.
Ryan Deitrich was quick to respond for the Quakers in the bottom of the inning, blasting a ball deep into left-center that just missed being a solo shot, hitting high off the wall for a stand-up double. That would be Penn's best chance in the first game, as the Red and Blue only had one other runner make it to second base and never beyond. The three batters went down in order following Deitrich as the rally fizzled and Cornell maintained its 2-0 lead.
Only Thomson's ability to work out of trouble kept Penn in the ballgame. Cornell again had runners on the corners in the third inning but the Penn starter worked the runner on first into a rundown and Vigoa smartly threw home to Austin Bossart to apply the tag to Marshall Yanzick after the Cornell shortstop broke for home. The Big Red put runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings but came away empty each time.
Cornell finally added onto its lead with a single run in the top of the seventh and then turned the game over to Kellen Urbon, who picked up his eighth save by allowing just one Penn baserunner in the bottom of the seventh.
Game Two - Cornell 9, Penn 5
Wildness plagued Penn's pitching staff in the day's second game. Starter Matt Gotschall lasted only an inning plus, not giving up a hit but walking four to put himself in line for the loss. Cornell scored five times in the second inning off Gotschall and reliever Sam Horn, gaining a comfortable working margin in the early stages of the game.
After the Quakers put two men on but failed to score in the bottom half of the second, the Big Red expanded on the lead in the third inning with two more runs after the first two hitters of the inning were retired. An error kept the inning alive for Cornell and a single and two hit batters plated a run for a 6-0 lead. A walk to Brian Billigen then made it 7-0 before Mike Zuppe could close out the frame.
Zuppe, Chris McNulty and Alex Ott were bright spots for the Penn pitching staff, but by the time they entered the game, the damage had been done. Trailing by seven, the Red and Blue would finally scratch the scoring column in the bottom of the sixth after a Spencer Branigan double. Consecutive ground outs advanced him the rest of the way with Ronnie Glenn picking up the RBI.
In his fourth inning of relief, Zuppe finally tired and Cornell took advantage to score twice more in the top of the seventh. The damage could have been worse if not for an acrobatic diving stop of a line drive from Toomey at second.
Trailing 9-1, Penn finally came alive in the eighth and ninth. Three straight singles from Deitrich, Branigan and Bossart brought one run home to make it a 9-2 game, and Glenn picked up his second RBI of the game on another ground out, pulling the Quakers within 9-3.
After Ott took Cornell down in order in the top of the ninth, Vigoa and Brandon Engelhardt stroked singles through the right and left sides of the infield. With two on, Toomey worked a walk to load the bags up and Greg Zebrack was hit for the second time in the game to score one. Branigan followed with a one-out walk to bring the tying run to the plate at 9-5 with just the one out.
Unfortunately, that's when Cornell again turned to its closer, Urbon. Pinch-hitter Matt McKinnon popped up in the infield against the Ivy League saves leader and Glenn's well-struck ground ball was placed right at the glove of Yanzick who threw on to first to end the game.
Penn has one last shot against the Big Red, starting another doubleheader tomorrow at 12 p.m.