Lafayette: Live Stats
Penn: Live Stats / Audio
PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania baseball team has won five of six games since returning from its Spring Break trip to up its record to 9-6. The most recent win came on Wednesday in a 12-5 slugfest over visiting Villanova. The Quakers now start a stretch of five consecutive games against the Lafayette Leopards (2-14) that begins with a doubleheader in Easton, Pa. on Saturday at 12 p.m. and continues on Sunday from Meiklejohn Stadium beginning at 12 p.m. The teams also meet in the Liberty Bell quarterfinals on Wednesday, once again on the Lafayette campus.
Last Time Out
After falling behind in the top of the sixth inning, 5-3, the Penn offense exploded late in the game, scoring nine runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth to put away Villanova by a score of 12-5 at Meiklejohn Stadium. Stephen Silvestri got the win on the mound for the Quakers, who were led by Joey Greco’s two home runs – the second of which was a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the sixth that put the Red and Blue ahead for good.
Though the Wildcats led on two separate occasions, it was the Penn bats that dictated the course of Wednesday’s contest. The Quakers pounded out 18 hits in the game, continually putting Villanova pitching into pressure situations. Seven different members of the team had multi-hit games, led by Ryan Deitrich, Mitch Montaldo, Gary Tesch and Mike Vilardo, who had three hits apiece. Greco’s two home runs gave him six RBI for the ballgame.
One of Penn’s biggest advantages this season has come once runners have reached base. The Quakers are an amazing 32-37 in stolen bases, a conversion rate of over 86 percent. On the flip side, opponents have only stolen 14 bases in 25 attempts this season. In 14 starts behind the plate, catcher Austin Bossart has personally thrown out 11 runners while giving up just 12 steals.
Nearing the Century Mark
After senior Spencer Branigan hit the 100 career hits plateau on Penn’s Spring Break trip in early March, junior Brandon Engelhardt looks poised to be the latest addition to the club. Engelhardt had five hits last week and now sits at 95 for his career with the Red and Blue. In his latest game, the speedy outfielder tied a career high with three hits – a single, double and triple – and knocked in three runs to help the Quakers down George Washington, 6-4. Hitting .356 for the year, Engelhardt ranks second on the team in that category as well as third on the team with 10 runs batted in.
On Lock Down
Pat Bet was the unlucky recipient of the loss in Sunday’s 6-4 defeat to George Washington, largely due to three early Penn errors that helped the Colonials to score five of their six runs. Despite giving up seven hits in four innings of action, Bet is holding opposing hitters to a mere .184 batting average in his four appearances. That includes three no-hit innings at William & Mary, a perfect inning at Towson, and six shutout innings with just two hits at Duke.
The relative inexperience at some of the field positions was a question mark coming into this season, but if anything, Penn’s defense has shown dramatic improvement in 2013. The Quakers have a team fielding percentage of .959 so far, a year ago at this time that number stood at .940. In addition, Penn has turned 18 double plays in 15 games, an average of 1.20 per contest that ranks sixth in the nation, a figure not far behind BYU, the national leader in the category at 1.47 per game.
Lafayette enters the weekend at 2-14 and on a five-game losing streak. Both of the Leopards’ wins have come against Maryland-Eastern Shore, a team they split with in a four-game series. Kevin Casey is the leading hitter for Lafayette, compiling a .321 average with four doubles and a home run. He also has drawn a team-high 13 walks. Andrew Santomauro is second on the team among the regular starters, batting .279 with three doubles. He also leads the team with six stolen bases in nine attempts.
Left-hander Michael Massa leads the starting rotation for the Leopards. Massa has put together a 1-3 record in the early going with a 4.97 ERA, working 25.1 innings. He’ll be complemented over this four-game set by another lefty, Connor Ortolf (0-2, 6.60 ERA) and right-hander Alex Farina (0-3, 7.84 ERA). The fourth Lafayette starter will be determined as the weekend progresses. Out of the bullpen, Cory Spera takes the honors of having the lowest ERA on the squad. In four appearances and 7.0 innings, Spera has an earned run average of 3.86. Another reliever, Mitch Leeds, has opponents batting just .200 in 6.2 innings of work.