Penn concludes the regular season next weekend with a four-game series against the Gehrig Division leaders, the Columbia Lions. The Quakers and Lions will play twice on Friday in New York City before making the trip to Philadelphia for a doubleheader at Meiklejohn Stadium on Saturday. Each twinbill gets underway at 1 p.m.
Game One – Cornell 3, Penn 1
The Quakers put an early run on the board in the opener, but Cornell starting pitcher Brian McAfee locked down Penn from the third inning on, retiring 13 straight batters at one point and giving up just two hits over the final five innings to spur the Big Red to the victory.
Cornell struck first on Sunday, scoring in the bottom of the first inning after JD Whetsel led off with a double down the left field line, fighting off a high offering from Gautieri and dropping it down in front of Brandon Engelhardt. Conor McCabe brought Whetsel in with a single to right-center to let the Big Red jump out in front, 1-0.
A battle from Austin Bossart to lead off the second inning ended with the Penn catcher aboard after drawing just the fifth walk that McAfee had allowed all season. After Bossart stole his ninth base of the season on a strike three call against Spencer Branigan, he then came around to tie the game as Ryan Mincher delivered a double into the left field corner.
A scoreless top half of the third inning brought the Big Red back up to the plate, and Cornell came through with a pair of runs with two down in the inning to deal Penn a decisive blow. Kevin Tatum led off the inning with a single and was on second with two down after a sacrifice bunt moved him into scoring position. Tom D’Alessandro then drove him in with a single into left to put the Big Red back on top. The next hitter, Forrest Crawford, placed a ball between Engelhardt and Connor Betbeze in left-center for a double that brought D’Alessandro in as well.
Gautieri ended the third inning with a strikeout and worked perfect frames in the fourth, fifth and sixth to retire 10 straight hitters, but unfortunately the damage had been done. With McAfee getting ahead in the count of nearly every Penn hitter, it took until the sixth inning before Ryan Deitrich singled back up the middle to break McAfee’s streak of 13 consecutive outs. Brebner worked a walk to give the Quakers two men on for the first time and Penn momentarily had a chance to pull closer until the threat ended with a force-out at third as Bossart grounded into a fielder’s choice down the line directly at Eliot Lowell. The last chance for the Red and Blue came in the seventh with Betbeze collecting a two-out single through the left side of the infield. Joey Greco moved into the line-up as a pinch-hitter, but the game ended as he lined out to D’Alessandro at shortstop.
McAfee improved to 3-2 on the year with his four-hit effort. Gautieri also worked a complete game, but fell to 5-2 this season.
Game Two – Cornell 8, Penn 2
Penn put runners aboard in each of the first three innings of the nine-inning contest, belting out five hits in that span against Zach McCulley, but missed opportunities plagued the Quakers while Cornell plated seven runs in that time.
The Big Red scored twice with two outs in the first inning, the first run coming home on a double off the wall from Chris Cruz. A single from Forrest Crawford added onto the Cornell lead before Pat Bet ended the inning by picking the lead runner off second base.
A five-run third inning put the Quakers in too deep of a hole to dig themselves out of. Cornell had two runners on when McCabe singled between shortstop and third to drive a run in and make it 3-0. The next batter, Cruz, then hit an inside-the-park home run after the ball got past a diving attempt in center field from Engelhardt and rolled to the wall. That was the end of the day for Bet, who gave way to Cody Thomson as the Big Red continued to bat. Cornell tacked on one more run in the third and then one more in the fourth to take an 8-0 lead before the Red and Blue were able to put a run on the board.
Branigan and Mitch Montaldo led off the fifth inning with consecutive singles, and each moved up on a wild pitch from McCulley. Engelhardt brought Branigan in for the first Penn run of the game with a ground ball to second base with the infield playing well back, cutting the Quaker deficit to 8-1.
Thomson shut Cornell down in the fifth inning before John Beasley took over on the mound beginning with the bottom of the sixth. The senior reliever continued his stellar campaign, giving up two soft singles in the inning but keeping the Big Red off the board before retiring them in order in the seventh and eighth.
The Quakers put one more on the board in the top of the ninth as the first three hitters of the inning reached base. Bossart was hit by a pitch leading off, and Betbeze drew a walk from Brent Jones. Mincher then drove in his second run of the day on a single into left field before Cornell ended it.
McCulley allowed eight Penn hits but scattered them and worked effectively out of the stretch, picking up the win in 5.0 innings and improving to 4-1. Bet fell to 1-3 on the season with the loss. Mincher’s two hits led the Quaker attack on the afternoon.