PHILADELPHIA - Saturday's
one-game playoff for the South Division Championship was everything you would
expect when each squad can send out either the reigning Ivy League Pitcher of
the Week or Ivy League Rookie of Week. In the end, it was Alexis Borden that would
put her stamp on the Quakers' championship performance with a perfect game in
Penn's 4-0 win over Cornell. The win sends the Quakers (33-15) to the Ivy
League Championship Series next weekend at Harvard and ends the Big Red's
(25-23) three-year run of representing the South Division.
Borden's perfect game was the first for an Ivy League pitcher since the 2006 season. In that year, Erin Snyder of Princeton threw a five inning perfect game against Yale. Also that season, Whitney Smith of Cornell threw a perfect game in five innings against Norfolk State.
Lost in Borden's pursuit of a perfect game was Cornell
starter Alyson Onyon, who kept Cornell in the game all day long. The Quakers
scratched across their first run on a suicide squeeze from Kayla Dahlerbruch in
the third inning. The game would remain 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth when a
defensive lapse by Cornell led to a three-run double to clear the bases from
Elysse Gorney. However, those runs would prove to be just insurance as Borden
retired all 21 batters that she faced, striking out six, while getting 11 fly
outs and five ground outs on her day of perfection.
Right out of the gates, Borden was sharp, allowing just one
ball out of the infield in the first as Jessica Melendez made a catch just shy
of the warning track after two pop-ups on the infield. In the bottom of the
first, Sydney Turchin singled to left to get things started and was moved into
scoring position on a groundout back to the pitcher. However, Onyon would get the
next two hitters to strand the runner in scoring position.
In the second inning, Borden did not allow a ball out of the
infield as the first batter flied out to short before Borden got her first and
second strikeouts of the afternoon. The Quakers again threatened in the second
as Melendez walked with one out and Samantha Erosa followed that up with a
single to put runners on first and second. A grounder to right side of the
infield would move both runners into scoring position, but Onyon would
eventually strand them both.
The third inning saw some great glove work in the field for
the Quakers. The first batter lined one that looked to be the first hit of the
day; however, a diving catch by Stephanie Caso at short kept the bid alive. The
next batter would then line right back to the pitcher and Borden showed quick reflexes
to snag that liner and help her own cause defensively before she finished off the
inning with her third strikeout of the day.
In the bottom half, Penn would finally give its starter some
breathing room. Turchin led off with a single and was bunted into scoring
position by Gorney. The first pitch to Dahlerbruch was called an illegal pitch,
moving Turchin to third. With the count 3-1, Dahlerbruch then laid down the suicide squeeze
bunt as Turchin slid into home before the Cornell defense could react as Penn
took the 1-0 lead.
Over the fourth and fifth innings, Cornell managed to get
just one ball out of the infield, a foul out to Brooke Coloma, who ranged over
into foul territory for the out. A strikeout and pop-up to Erosa would end
Cornell's fourth, while Borden's fifth strikeout and a grounders to second and
third would make her perfect through five innings. Erosa and Coloma would work
walks in the fourth and fifth, respectively, but Penn could not get anything
else going offensively.
With the crowd anticipating something special, Borden
induced a pair a groundouts to the middle infielders before a fly out was taken
in foul ground for the final out of the sixth inning and put Borden three outs
away from her perfect game.
In Penn's final time at bat, Erosa and pinch-hitter Justine Payne
each singled with one out. After the second out of the inning, Turchin reached
base for the third time on an infield error to load up the bases. Gorney would
then make that error hurt as she doubled into the left-center field gap,
bringing home all three runs to stake Penn to a 4-0 lead.
With the crowd anticipating the perfect game, Borden got the
Cornell leadoff hitter to foul out to first base to put one away. She would then
record her sixth strikeout of the game, putting two away. The final out of the
game would come on a fly to left. Drifting into foul ground, the ball hung up
long enough for Turchin to range over and when the ball landed safely in her
glove, the Penn bench erupted to celebrate not only the perfect game, but the
South Division Championship.
For Penn offensively, Turchin and Erosa each had two-hit
days. Turchin scored twice, including the game-winning run on the bunt play.
Erosa also added a run along with Payne. Cornell's starter also threw a
complete game, allowing just seven hits over her time in the circle, while
walking three more hitters.
After clinching their second divisional title since the Ivy
League went to this format in 2007, the Quakers will now move onto the
best-of-three Ivy League Championship Series at Harvard next weekend. Against
Harvard, the Quakers will be looking for their second Ivy League Championship
in program history. The Quakers first Ivy title came during the 1981 season. The
first two games will be on Friday, May 11. If a third game is needed to
determine a champion that game will be played on Saturday.
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