13-Run Eighth Helps Baseball Sweep Columbia

Penn 11 - Columbia 5 Box Score

Penn 15 - Columbia 9 Box Score

PHILADELPHIAOn a day where Penn baseball celebrated Little League Day with the Phillie Phanatic, the Quakers combined the best of both worlds – playing with the joy of youth and celebrating at the end of the day with a major league comeback.

For the second time this week, Penn scored double digits in runs in one inning to erase a late lead. On Wednesday, the Red and Blue scored 11 runs in the seventh inning to defeat Lehigh, 11-10. On Sunday, the Quakers scored 13 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to stun the Columbia Lions, 15-9.

With the win, Penn completed a sweep of the doubleheader against Columbia, adding the victory in game two to an 11-5 win in the opener. Penn finishes the season 17-24 and 5-15 in the Ivy League.

The story of game two as eerily similar to the way the majority of Penn’s season went. The Quakers took an early lead and then watched it slip away in the middle innings. This time, it was a four-run fourth inning that rendered an early 2-0 Penn lead moot. Along the way, Geoff Whitaker shut down the Quaker bats, allowing just four hits over the middle five innings.

The final nail in the coffin of Penn’s season appeared to be in place after the Quakers allowed three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 9-2 lead. All three of the runs in the seventh were unearned – three of five free runs allowed on the day by Penn.

As the Quakers prepared to take their cuts in the bottom of the eighth inning, the near capacity crowd at Meiklejohn Stadium had no reason to believe they were about to witness the outburst that occurred.

Well, no reason except the Quakers had done something similar only four days earlier.

The inning started simply enough. After throwing 125 pitches, Whitaker was relieved by Harrison Slutsky. Will Davis infused a little energy into the Penn bench with a solo home run – his seventh homer of the season – to right-center. Still, the Quakers trailed by six.

A double from Tom Grandieri and a walk to Derek Vigoa were sandwiched between strikeouts from James Mraz and William Gordon. Designated hitter Jeremy Maas then walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. A second full-count walk, this one from Dan Williams scored a run to cut the lead to 9-4.

Adrian Lorenzo came through with the first pressure-packed hit of the inning, singling to left-center to drive in two runs and cut the deficit to three. That was all for Slutsky and Joey Mizzoni came in to try and stop the bleeding. The first batter Mizzoni faced was Mike Mariano. The catcher worked a walk to reload the bases. That brought up Davis for the second time in the inning, and the sophomore lined a single to right that scored two more runs, bringing the Quakers within one.

Mizzoni then walked Mraz to again load the bases. Mizzoni’s day was done and Brian Valero came out of the bullpen. Facing Grandieri, a pitch from Valero sailed wide and scored the tying run. Grandieri eventually walked, bringing up Vigoa.

The freshman from Miami was familiar with Valero. They were teammates in high school at Christopher Columbus High School and are close friends. After working a full count, Vigoa fouled off one payoff pitch. The next Valero offering was pulled down the line in left, and by the time the relay was thrown to second, the bases were empty, three runs had scored and Vigoa’s double gave Penn a 12-9 lead.

Vigoa advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on an error by the first baseman on a grounder from Gordon. Dan Williams added a two-run double and Lorenzo scored him with a fielder’s choice to cap a wild inning.

The final numbers from the nearly 50-minute long half inning are astounding. Penn batted around twice, with 18 batters stepping to the plate. Columbia pitchers threw 92 pitches in the inning. Despite scoring 13 runs, the Quakers only registered six hits. Seven Penn batters reached via walk and another was hit by a pitch. Every member of the lineup reached base in the inning, with six doing so twice. Three players each had three RBI in the frame.

The magical inning made a winner out of Reid Terry, who pitched four innings of relief. He allowed four runs, but all were unearned. He struck out six Lions en route to his second win of the year.

The win ensured Penn’s first series win in the Ivy League in 2009. The Quakers won the first game, 11-5. Vince Voiro pitched 6.1 innings for his second win of the year. He breezed through the majority of the game, allowing just two runs through six innings before the Lions scored three off him in the seventh.

He could afford those runs thanks to the support of his offense. The Red and Blue scored four in the first inning as the Quakers batted around to start the day. The Quakers had three doubles in the inning, with Williams’ scoring two runs.

Penn added four more in the fourth inning. William Gordon hit his 10th home run of the season to drive in three of those runs. Three more runs in the fifth inning provided more than enough insurance for Voiro.

In the opener, Grandieri was a monster. He was 4-for-4 with three doubles, three runs scored and two RBI. He scored five total runs on the day and had four total doubles. He finished the season with 19 doubles – second-most in a season by a Penn player.

Vigoa was 5-for-9 over the twin bill with five runs scored and five RBI. Williams also drove in five runs on Sunday.

Over the four games against Columbia this weekend, Penn scored 42 runs, reaching double figures in all three wins.

Penn’s season is now complete. The Quakers will graduate one senior, catcher and tri-captain Jeff Celluci. He was honored in between games of the doubleheader.

No doubt he will be watching next season as the young pitching staff he tutored in 2009 matures and attempts to match the power with which the Quaker offense exerted itself over the course of this season.