PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania baseball team makes the trek north to Ithaca this weekend for a four-game Ivy League series against Cornell. The Quakers, winners of four straight in Ivy play, currently hold a two-game lead on the Big Red in the Ivy League Gehrig Division standings.
GAMES 34-35: PENN (18-15, 8-4 Ivy) at CORNELL (17-12, 6-6 Ivy)
Game 1: Jake Cousins (4-1, 2.01 ERA) vs. Tim Willittes (4-1, 5.68 ERA)
Game 2: Adam Bleday (2-2, 3.27) vs. Justin Lewis (2-2, 6.61)
GAMES 36-37: PENN at CORNELL
Game 1: Gabe Kleiman (2-0, 5.08) vs. Tommy Morris (2-1, 5.40)
Game 2: Mike Reitcheck (3-3, 3.04) vs. Paul Balestrieri (4-3, 2.28)
Overall: 17-12 (6-6 Ivy) Streak: L1 Last: Won the series at Columbia last weekend, taking the first three over the Lions.
The Big Red enter the weekend winners of seven of their last ten to put themselves right in the thick of the Ivy League Gehrig Division race. After a 1-3 start to Ivy play, Cornell earned splits with Harvard and Dartmouth before taking three of four from Columbia to climb back to the .500 mark.
Cole Rutherford (.313, 7 HR, 32 RBI) leads a Cornell offense that paces the Ivies in hitting (.299) while ranking second in on-base percentage (.384). Rutherford posted a two-homer game in Sunday's game one win over Columbia, adding to his league-leading RBI total of 32 and placing him in a tie for first in home runs.
Despite a 4.73 team ERA, Paul Balestrieri has proven to be the leader of the Cornell pitching staff with a team-leading 2.28 ERA over seven starts this season. Right-hander Jamie Flynn has been a consistent option out of the bullpen thus far, allowing just one earned run in 15 innings of work over ten appearances in relief for a 0.60 ERA.
NEWS AND NOTES: PENN
*The Series With Cornell: Saturday's matchup in Ithaca marks the 274th meeting between Penn and Cornell, with the Quakers leading the all-time series, 156-115-2. Penn has won the last three series against Cornell - taking three of four in each - while outscoring the Big Red 87-47 in those 12 games.
*No Shortage of Strikeouts: The Penn pitching staff currently leads the Ivy League with 254 strikeouts, which is currently good for seventh all-time on the program's single-season strikeout list. Adam Bleday's 56 punchouts rank first in the Ivy League entering this weekend.
*All Graul: Tim Graul extended his on-base streak to a team-leading 23 games with a first-inning double, while also extending his hit streak to a ten which ties a season-high. Graul is hitting .443 (39-88) with eleven doubles and 24 RBIs in his last 23 games, while the Quakers have gone 16-7 over that stretch. Additionally, Graul's first-inning double in Tuesday's loss to La Salle was the 37th of his career, moving him into a tie for fifth on Penn's all-time doubles list (Nick Italiano, 2003).
*Ivy Ranks: As a team, the Quakers enter the weekend as the league-leaders in hits (317), doubles (72), team ERA (3.61) and strikeouts (254). Penn's team batting average in conference play (.323) is also tops, led by Graul's .532 mark in Ivy games.
*Not So Often: The Quakers lost their first game of the season when holding their opponent to two runs or less in Tuesday's loss to La Salle. It was also the second game this year that Penn has not won when leading after three innings.