PHILADELPHIA – The 2009 season is coming to a close for the Penn baseball team and the Quakers are hoping to put a finish on the campaign that will leave the squad with a positive feeling as they head into the offseason and preparations for the 2010 slate.
The Quakers are 14-23 overall in 2009, but just 2-14 in Ivy League games. This weekend, the Red and Blue play a Columbia squad that is 6-10 in the Ancient Eight, and only two games out of first place in the Gehrig Division. While the role of spoiler is not one that a team points toward when the season begins, it does allow for the games to take on added meaning as the Quakers know they will be playing a team hungry for a chance to repeat as division – and Ivy League – champions.
The two teams meet on Saturday in the Big Apple for a pair of games before returning the Philly for the final two contests of the year starting at noon at Meiklejohn Stadium. Sunday’s twin bill is Senior Day – or better yet, Jeff Cellucci Day – as Penn will honor the lone graduating senior on the 2009 team.
Cellucci, Penn’s tri-captain and leader behind the plate, is finishing a four-year stint for the Red and Blue that has seen him play 72 games with 54 starts behind the plate. He has hit .298 for his career. This year, he has saved his best play for conference games, hitting .394 against Ivy teams – the best average on the Red and Blue. His mark in Ancient Eight games is eighth-best among players who have played at least 10 ivy games. Perhaps more importantly, he has worked with a young pitching staff the past two seasons as the Quakers have relied on a crop of underclassmen pitchers.
Checking in on the statistical top-fives Penn is closing in on, the two games at Lehigh on Wednesday did a good job bringing the Red and Blue closer to a few marks.As a team, the Quakers are 19 at bats away from moving into the top five by eclipsing 1,297. Dan Williams has 149 of Penn’s Abs this year, and needs seven to move into the top five, or eight to take over fourth spot.In terms of team hits, Penn has 386 this year. The fifth-best record is 394, held by the 1979 and 2001 teams. Williams has 52 hits this year, and is six away from the fifth-highest total of 58 (Doug Glanville, ’91). Seven hits this weekend will tie him for fourth with Glenn Partridge’s 59 hits from 1976.Penn has 86 doubles this year, already moving into third place all-time. Three doubles this weekend will tie for the most ever by a Penn team as the 1995 team hit 89. Four doubles and the record belongs solely to the 2009 squad. Derek Vigoa has 14 doubles this year, tied for fourth-best by a player in a season. One more two-bagger and he is tied for third (Mike Shannon, 1995). Jeremy Maas and Tom Grandieri each have 13 doubles and can move up the ranks as well.In terms of the longball, Penn has 32 home runs this year. One more and the 2009 team ties for fifth with the 1977 nine. Realistically, the team could move as high as third (35 by the 1979 team). William Gordon has eight dingers of his own, one behind three players for fourth all-time.The Quakers have driven in 227 runs this year. The fifth-place mark is 235 by the 1989 team. An offensive explosion from Gordon could move him into fifth all-time. He currently has 39 and is seven behind Jeff Gregorio who drove in 46 runs in 2000. A climb up the home run charts by Gordon could equate to a rise on the RBI one as well.The Quakers have pitched 304.0 innings this year, and with two double headers left on the slate, the Red and Blue can expect to toss at least 30 more innings this year. The math on that brings the total innings pitched to 334.0 – and the third-highest number by a Penn staff. The second-most innings pitched is 337.0, so that mark is in reach as well.The Red and Blue have struck out 216 opposing batters and need to fan 10 more hitters to tie the 2001 team for fifth-most in Penn history.
The Lions boast only one player who is hitting over .300 in sophomore Bobby O’Brien. Last year, he played in just three games, but he is making up for that this year. He is batting .338 over 27 games this year. Nine different players have hit at least one home run for Columbia this year, but as a team Columbia has just 19 homers. Nick Cox is a force on the bases, stealing 16 bases. The sophomore was the 2008 Ivy League Rookie of the Year.
In addition to the ceremonies that honor Cellucci between games on Sunday, the Quakers are also hosting Little League Day. The Phillie Phanatic will be in attendance as Penn hopes to pack Meiklejohn Stadium. Little Leaguers are encouraged to attend the game in their uniform. Penn will also unveil the new Hall of Fame Room adjacent to the press box. The room has been renovated to honor the past teams that have created the Penn Baseball tradition. Included in the room are areas honoring past coaches, league championship teams and Penn players who have played professional baseball. In addition, a Wall of Honor is being created along the ceiling listing the rosters of each team to suit up for the Red and Blue.
A quick look at the forecast for the weekend shows Sunday to be mostly sunny with a high of 89 degrees. What better way to spend perhaps the best day of the spring than at Meiklejohn Stadium as Penn baseball honors its past and present.