PHILADELPHIA – Going into last weekend’s games with Cornell, the University of Pennsylvania baseball team’s chances of finding a way into the Ivy League Championship Series looked bleak. The Quakers were four games back with eight to play and first place Princeton was playing a Columbia team that sat in fourth place in the Gehrig Division. With a 3-1 weekend, and a little help from the Lions, Penn is now just one game back with four remaining. The Red and Blue will host Columbia on Friday in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. before making their way to New York on Saturday to close out the regular season with another twin bill.
Closing out the season series with Cornell on Sunday, the University of Pennsylvania baseball team swept the Big Red to move within one game of first place in the Gehrig Division. Penn walked off in 10 innings in game one on a Chris Rabasco hit by a pitch, before running away with a 16-5 win in game two. Tim Graul led the way for the Quakers going 8-for-10 on the day with five doubles, a home run, three RBIs and five runs scored. Graul has matching 4-for-5 games in the doubleheader, racking up a pair of two-baggers in the game one, while accumulating a trio of them in game two and homering to cap off his day.
QUAKER NOTES FROM SUNDAY: For the weekend, Tim Graul was 10-for-17 with five doubles, two home run, six RBIs, and eight runs scored… Billy Lescher won his fifth game of the season in game two, tying him for the Ivy League lead… Tim Graul’s home run in the eighth inning is his seventh of the season, extending his conference lead in the category… Penn sent 10 men to the plate in the first inning in game two, marking the second time in the series that the Quakers batted around against the Big Red… With the three-win weekend, Penn is just one game back of Princeton for the Gehrig Division lead.
SCOUTING COLUMBIA: Last week, it looked like the great baseball rivalry in recent years between Penn and Columbia wouldn’t carry much meaning, but after a thrilling Sunday sweep of Princeton for the Lions, they are back on track and also have an outside shot at making the Ivy League Championship Series for the third year in a row. Columbia is 13-23 overall and 7-9 in the Ivy League, three games back of Princeton with four to play. Despite their struggles, Columbia is second in average in the Ancient Eight at .258. They have hit 20 home runs this season, good for third in the conference. The New Yorkers have had a keen eye this season, drawing an Ivy-high 141 walks. Columbia’s pitchers have been the issue, carrying a 6.15 ERA into the weekend, next to last in the Ivy League. They are one of only two teams in the conference to allow more than 200 earned runs so far this season.
LAST TIME OUT AGAINST COLUMBIA: Last season, the Quakers split four games with the Lions, setting up a decisive one game playoff that Columbia took, 4-2. Penn won the first game on both Saturday and Sunday, and fell 8-6 in 10 innings in the final game. The Red and Blue have actually experienced the heartbreak of losing the one game playoff in each of the last two year, both times to the Lions.
SENIOR DAY: On Friday, the Quakers will celebrate Senior Day, acknowledging the five players playing their final regular season home games. Jonah Campbell, Matt Greskoff, Mitch Holtz, Ryan Mincher, and Gary Tesch will all be recognized during a pre-game ceremony.
JONAH: Completing his second full season with the Quakers, Jonah Campbell has not only developed into a good hitter, but an effective pitcher as well. The native of Arcadia, California, has closed games out in a couple different ways this season. His bases loaded single against Holy Cross on April 8 gave the Quakers their second win of the season. He also closed out the Quakers 19-3 win over Yale on April 3 by throwing just one pitch, forcing a pop up to short. Campbell is a career .216 hitter with a pair of home runs, and has a zero ERA in three innings, while allowing just one hit.
GRESKOFF: A First-team All-Ivy selection in 2015, Matt Greskoff batted .320 with eight doubles, five home runs, and 26 RBIs. He was fourth in average against the Ivy League, hitting at a .397 clip. In 2014, his first season with the Quakers, the native of Paoli, Pennsylvania hit .292 with an on-base percentage of .390. This season, he’s been near the top of the Ivy League ranks in home runs, launching six. Greskoff is a career .283 with 11 home runs and was named a captain before the season began.
HOLTZ: A work-horse for the Quakers in 2016, Mitch Holtz has pitched in more games than any Ivy League pitcher this season with 18. In 29 innings, the senior from Plainville, Illinois has a 3.72 ERA and a 1-2 record. In his career at Penn, Holtz has made 48 appearance, allowing 30 runs, good for a 3.62 ERA. Holtz has two wins in his career, one last Sunday against Cornell and another his sophomore year against St. Peters in 2014.
MINCHER: A two-time All-Ivy selection, Ryan Mincher has been a mainstay in the Quakers line-up since his freshman year. Last season, the native of Glenshaw, Pennsylvania batted .328 with 11 doubles, a pair of home runs and 12 RBIs. He was ranked in the top 25 in the NCAA in toughest to strike out, fanning just eight times in 122 at-bats. This season, Mincher has again been a terror for the Ancient Eight, hitting .407 in 16 games against Ivy foes with four home runs and 16 RBIs. The captain has help lead the Quakers surge late in the season, currently riding a 13-game hit streak and hitting in 18 of his last 19 games. For his career, he is a .272 hitter with 11 home runs.
TESCH: Coming to Penn from Cypress, Texas, Gary Tesch has really come on during his senior season. Tesch has led the Ivy League in hitting for the majority of the season and is currently boasts a .355 average. He is also in the top three in hits, stolen bases, and runs scored, while flawlessly patrolling center field. For his four-year career in the Red and Blue, Tesch is yet to make an error. He’s a .281 hitter with four home runs, doubling his career total with two in a game this season against Yale, capped off by a grand slam.