Game One – Penn 12, Lafayette 5
It wasn’t the most elegant of victories, but the Penn offense simply overmatched Lafayette’s pitching in the opener of the four-game series, pounding out 16 hits to make up for three defensive errors in the field. Connor Cuff went the distance on the mound in the seven-inning contest, improving to 3-1.
The fireworks began in the top of the first inning as Mike Vilardo connected on his second home run of the season to put the Quakers out on top, 1-0. Ryan Deitrich, Spencer Branigan and Austin Bossart all followed with two-out singles, bringing Deitrich in to score and up the lead to 2-0.
Lafayette answered back in the bottom of the first inning to cut Penn’s advantage to 2-1, but the top of the batting order went back to work in the top of the third. Vilardo led off with a single, and Deitrich followed that up with a one-out single of his own. With two down in the inning, Bossart tripled deep into the right-center gap, scoring both runners and upping the edge to 4-1.
A one-out error in the bottom of the third opened the floodgates and allowed the Leopards the chance work their way back into it. Lafayette only managed two hits in the inning, but a wild pitch and a pair of passed balls helped move the runners up into scoring position. By the time Cuff caught Tyler Hudson looking for the third out, the Leopards had tied the game up at 4-4.
After Penn went down in order in the fourth inning, Lafayette again applied some pressure. This time, however, Cuff was able to make it through unscathed. The Leopards had a lead-off double from Parker Hills go by the boards, as his teammates couldn’t hit him home from third with one away.
The Quakers went about putting the game away in the top of the fifth. Vilardo led off with a single, then stole second before coming around to score on a RBI single from Deitrich. Branigan came up next and smashed a double into right field, making it a 6-4 game and chasing Lafayette starter Alex Farina from the contest. The pitching change did little to slow down Penn. With two men on and two out, Ryan Mincher dealt the Leopards a big blow with a double into left field, doubling Lafayette up on the scoreboard, 8-4.
The story repeated itself in the sixth inning as Vilardo reached on a single, stole second, then scored on a Deitrich RBI single. Bossart brought Deitrich and Branigan in later in the frame with his second triple of the afternoon to make it 11-4. A wild pitch allowed the Penn catcher to race the final 90 feet in to make it a 12-4 ballgame. Though Cuff would give up a single run in the bottom of the sixth, he would work a perfect seventh to finish his complete game victory.
Vilardo and Deitrich each had four hits and scored four runs in the win. Branigan added a 3-for-4 day at the plate and scored a pair of runs, while Bossart’s two triples helped him to go 3-for-4 with five runs batted in.
Game Two – Penn 8, Lafayette 1
In contrast to Penn’s quick start in the first game of the day, Lafayette starter Connor Ortolf kept the Quakers relatively quiet for most of the game. But with Jeff McGarry handling the Leopard bats with little issue, it was only a matter of time before the Red and Blue awoke.
After two scoreless innings each way, Penn finally went on top in the third inning. Mincher led off with a double down the left field line and moved to third with one away as Gary Tesch laid down a nice sacrifice bunt. The Quakers took the 1-0 lead as the next hitter, Connor Betbeze, came through with a RBI grounder to second.
Lafayette continued to go quietly in the third and fourth innings, and Penn added onto its lead in the fifth inning as Mincher again sparked the attack. A roller between short and third put the freshman on with no one out, and Tesch again came forward with a bunt, this time beating the throw for a base hit. Betbeze moved the runners forward and into scoring position with a sac bunt of his own, then Vilardo came through with a two-RBI double down the left field line to make it a 3-0 ballgame.
Despite Lafayette’s struggles converting base runners into runs, the contest was still undecided until the Quakers put up five runs in the top of the seventh inning. After retiring two men in the seventh but facing Deitrich with two men in scoring position, Ortolf was lifted for reliever Robert Tatum, a move that would ultimately backfire for the Leopards. Deitrich drew a walk to load the bases for Joey Greco, who delivered a two-RBI single. A passed ball then brought Deitrich home from third to make it 6-0, before Branigan doubled to right to bring Greco around to score. A throwing error from the catcher on a stolen base from Bossart allowed Branigan to trot home as well, making it a 8-0 game as the teams hit the seventh-inning stretch.
McGarry only had one inning without a baserunner, but he continually stranded the Leopards on base. Going eight strong innings, McGarry gave up eight hits but stranded a total of nine runners to improve to 2-2 on the season. The only dent that Lafayette made on the scoreboard came from a lead-off home run in the bottom of the eighth, by which time Penn had established a nearly-insurmountable lead. Brian Schwarzbach came on in relief to pitch a scoreless ninth.
Mincher was the hits leader for Penn in the second game, going 3-for-5 with a pair of runs scored. Greco and Vilardo each drove in two runs, while Branigan went 2-for-4 with a run and a run batted in.
Game One – Penn 12, Lafayette 5