PHILADELPHIA - Mother Nature played havoc on the Quakers all day long on Friday as they opened their season at Meiklejohn Stadium. First, a heavy frost that settled on the field prevented the doubleheader against West Chester from starting at the scheduled time of 12:30 p.m. When the first pitch was thrown at 2:05, the twin-bill was changed to a single, nine-inning game. Also, the temperature outside was listed at 35 degrees - easily the high of the game as it got colder as the innings progressed. But perhaps Mother Nature's cruelest act was freezing Penn's bats.
Penn managaed just five hits and only one run - an unearned run in the second inning as the Red and Blue dropped its opener, 2-1, to West Chester.
The Golden Rams' offense was not much hotter than Penn's, it just came alive at the right time. After Penn pitchers held West Chester to only five hits over the first six innings while striking out six batters, the Rams struck for two runs in the top of the seventh. Robbie Seymour relieved freshman Jeremy Maas to start the inning and got the first batter to ground out. Seymour then walked Kevin McGrath and gave up a single to Bob Stumpo. Frank Nunan the sacrafice bunted the runners over. With two outs, head coach John Cole called upon Reid Terry to face the top of West Chester's order in Nick Spisak. Spisak dropped a soft liner into right-center to score the only two runs the Rams would need.
The Quakers drew first blood in the game on the strength of two West Chester errors in the second inning. Tim May reached when McGrath's throw from third base sailed over the head of first baseman Blair Dameron. Tom Grandieri followed with a single, giving Penn runners at first and second. Alex Nwaka attempted to bunt the runners over, but his sacrafice attempt popped up into the glove of pitcher Greg Ball for the first out of the inning. A walk to Dan Williams loaded the bases with only on eout. Jeff Cellucci lined out to center for the second out of the inning. That brought up Steve Gable. He hit a grounder to short that Spisak was unable to handle for WCU's second miscue of the inning. May scored for Penn's first run of the season.
Sophomore co-captain Todd Roth got the start for Penn. The 2007 Ivy League Rookie of the Year pitched three innings, allowing two hits while striking out a pair and not walking a batter. Penn also had strong pitching performances from a pair of freshmen in Paul Cusick and Jeremy Maas. The two rookies combined for four innings out of the bullpen and allowed only two hits. Maas fanned three batters in his two innings.
The Quakers are off until March 8 when they have the first of eight games in Florida as part of their Spring Break trip. Penn will take on Lehigh at 10 a.m. in Boca Raton, Fla. Penn Athletics will be live with the team throughout its ten-day stint in the Sunshine State, and you can follow all the action via Game Tracker on www.pennathletics.com.