PHILADELPHIA - The 2012 Penn baseball season comes to a close this weekend with four games against the Columbia Lions. The weekend series gets going on Friday at Meiklejohn Stadium with a doubleheader scheduled for 12 and 3 p.m. The next day, the teams travel to New York City to play two at Columbia's Robertson Field at Satow Stadium. Again, game times are set for 12 and 3 p.m.
At 7-9 in the Ivy League (16-20 overall), Penn is six games behind Gehrig Division leaders Cornell and cannot qualify for the Ivy League Championship Series. By winning at least three out of four against the Lions, the Quakers can give themselves a third consecutive .500 or above finish in the league.
Getting to Meiklejohn Stadium
Due to the high amount of traffic on-campus this weekend with Penn Relays, the usual parking spots near Meiklejohn Stadium will not be available. The best option for Friday is the $10 daily rate at Campus Park and Ride. From that lot, a shuttle can drop you off at the entrance gate of Meiklejohn and can be flagged down post-game at the same drop-off point to bring you back to your car.
Last Time Out
With Cornell in town for four games, the Big Red all but ended the division race (they lead Princeton by three games with four to play) by winning three from the Red and Blue, shutting out the Quakers twice - the first two shutouts of the season for Penn - in the series. Despite a number of solid pitching performances from the Penn rotation, the lack of run support, particularly in the games started by Cody Thomson and Vince Voiro, scuttled any hopes of a late-season run back into the thick of the race. Freshmen Ronnie Glenn, Stephen Silvestri and Dan Gautieri combined to hold Cornell in check in Sunday's final game and a late triple from Ryan Deitrich was critical as Penn avoided the sweep with a 4-3 win.
Following the Quakers
Live stats for both Friday and Saturday are available through PennAthletics.com by clicking here. Due to the Penn Relays, no audio will be available during Friday's games in Philadelphia; however, if you are a Penn Sports Network subscriber, your login information will allow you to view a live video stream of the doubleheader on Saturday in New York City. Many thanks go out to our (348 and counting) Twitter followers of @pennbaseball. As always, updates and photos from the games will be available all weekend long.
About the Lions
Columbia (17-22, 9-7 Ivy) enters Wednesday on a two-game winning streak taking three out of four from Princeton at home over the weekend to make life very difficult for the Tigers if they are to repeat as Ivy League champions. The Lions are 8-4 at home but just 8-16 on the road this season and host two games against Fordham before visiting Penn on Friday.
Offense: At .354, Alex Black is the leading hitter in the Columbia lineup, but the third baseman didn't play in the final three games of the Princeton series. The meat of the Lions' batting order is the combo of Dario Pizzano and Nick Ferraresi. Pizzano is hitting .338 with 14 doubles and three home runs while Ferraresi is right there with him, batting .310 with 15 doubles and three home runs. They've also walked a combined 48 times between the two. At the top of the order, Jon Eisen has cobbled together a very nice season, batting .320 with eight doubles and a team-leading nine stolen bases.
Pitching: Columbia's pitching staff has been aided by a defense that has turned 38 double plays, the highest number in the Ivy League. The title of staff ace would likely go to Pat Lowery, a senior right-hander whose 2.44 ERA is second only to Voiro in the league.
Along with Lowery are starters Tim Giel (2-3, 3.91 ERA), Stefan Olson (3-5, 4.25 ERA) and David Speer (3-1, 4.64 ERA). As a whole, the Columbia pitching staff has an earned run average of 4.54, the second-lowest total behind Cornell in the Ivies. David Spinosa has made a team-high 16 appearances and earned four saves.
Eight players will suit up in the Red and Blue for the last time this weekend. Below are some of the career accomplishments for the Penn Baseball Class of 2012:
Patrick Brennan - A native of Corona del Mar, California, Brennan had an immediate impact on the Quakers beginning with his freshman season. A career relief pitcher, Brennan came out of the bullpen 14 times as a freshman, which was tied for most appearances by any pitcher on that team. His junior season saw him compile a 2-0 record in 12 appearances with a career-best 4.84 ERA.
Chris McNulty - Hailing from Bayonne, New Jersey, McNulty was honored as Ivy League Rookie of the Week once as a freshman, and twice was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week in his sophomore season, a year in which he was also named All-Big 5 and compiled a 5-1 record. McNulty has thrown five complete games for the Quakers and has an overall record of 8-7 for the Red and Blue.
James Mraz - Mraz forced his way into the line-up as a freshman, going 3-for-6 and scoring four runs against Georgetown in his first career game. The Kennett Square, Pennsylvania native batted over .300 in his freshman season and scored 32 runs while making 35 starts. After missing his junior year to injury, Mraz has recovered to start 21 times for Penn as a senior and has five multi-hit games.
Evan Schreyer - A four-year walk-on catcher from Linwood, New Jersey, Schreyer has played a significant role in the development of every pitcher to come through Penn in his time with the program.
Derek Vigoa - A four-year starter and Big 5 Rookie of the Year in 2009, Vigoa enters his final weekend ranked third all-time in Penn history in hits and will finish second all-time in games played. A versatile defensive weapon who spent time at shortstop, second base, catcher and even pitcher in his time with the Quakers, the native of Miami, Florida was twice voted to an All-Ivy team before this season and leaves the program having hit over .300 in each of his four seasons.
Vince Voiro - A team captain in both his junior and senior seasons, Voiro has put the Penn rotation on his back at times this season, leading the Ivy League in innings pitched while also sporting the lowest earned run average among the Ancient Eight. Twice named the Ivy League Pitcher of the Week in 2012, Voiro has thrown five complete games this year to up his career total to 15 while slicing his walk and earned run totals in half. On March 23, Voiro threw possibly the game of his career, striking out 10 Lafayette hitters in a complete game five-hit shutout of the Leopards.
Greg Zebrack - In just two years at Penn, tri-captain Zebrack quickly established himself as one of the premier talents in the Ivy League, earning First-Team All-Ivy honors a year ago and setting himself up to be named to the squad again in 2012. Joining the Quakers from Northridge, California after a year at USC, Zebrack leads the Ivies in slugging percentage, on base percentage, doubles and total bases, and is either second or tied for second in runs, home runs and stolen bases. 26 of his 44 hits on the year are for extra bases and in 35 games, he has failed to reach base only twice.
Mike Zuppe - The final tri-captain on this year's team, Zuppe has thrown a career-high 16.2 innings in his last go-round with Penn, with scoreless outings against Stetson, Southern Illinois, Bowling Green, Dartmouth and La Salle. Coming to Penn from Freehold, New Jersey, Zuppe's last action on the mound included four shutout innings of Cornell, the longest outing of his career.