Baseball Continues Busy Non-Conference Season

Towson: Live Stats

George Washington: Live Stats / Video

PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania baseball team plays five games in the week ahead, starting with a 3 p.m. matchup at Towson on Wednesday afternoon. The Quakers come home for their home debut on Saturday, playing George Washington in a 7- and 9-inning twinbill at Meiklejohn Stadium beginning at 12 p.m. Penn then makes the return trip to GW, facing the Colonials once again on Sunday in a doubleheader at Arlington, Va.

Spring Break Success
The Quakers go into Wednesday's game at Towson with a 4-5 record after their Southern swing with series at William & Mary, Duke and Winthrop. Always starting its season at least two weeks behind other Division I programs, Penn and the rest of the Ivy League often take some lumps in the early going, but the Quakers recovered from a 1-3 start this year to split with Duke and win the series at Winthrop. Here are the Spring Break results under John Cole's watch:

(Spring Break Trip to Florida)
2006: 1-7
(Spring Break Trip to Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina)

Vilardo and Deitrich Take Home Awards
Hot starts to the season at the plate earned senior Ryan Deitrich and freshman Mike Vilardo weekly honors from the Big 5 and the Ivy League to open the season on March 5. Deitrich was named the Big 5 Player of the Week after a four-game series against Wiliam & Mary where he batted 9-for-15 (.600) while driving in two runs and scoring on four occasions. Adding in three base on balls in the series against the Tribe, his total on-base percentage for the series was an amazing .667.

In his collegiate debut against W&M, Vilardo sparked the Penn offense with six hits - four of them for extra bases - and a team-leading six runs batted in in the series. The Quakers also turned six double plays against the Tribe and Vilardo was involved in four of them from his position at second base. For his all-around efforts, he took home the inaugural Ivy League Rookie of the Week award of 2013.

Bossart, Bet and Gautieri All Honored
The awards continued to roll in for the Quakers as three individuals were honored by the Ivy League and Big 5 on March 12. Austin Bossart was named Ivy League Player of the Week, Pat Bet earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week and Dan Gautieri was co-Ivy League Pitcher of the Week as well as Big 5 Pitcher of the Week.

Bossart was solid at the plate in five games this past week, hitting .350 (7-for-20) with three doubles, a triple and three stolen bases. Those numbers alone could have earned him a look. But it was his defense that put him over the top. With Duke and Winthrop attempting to run on him six times, Bossart threw out four runners while also picking off a Blue Devil leaning too far off first base. All told this season, he has allowed just six stolen bases in 13 chances.

Gautieri was spectacular in a 7-0 shutout of Winthrop on Saturday. Improving to 2-0 with the win and dropping his ERA to 1.23, the sophomore gave up eight hits and struck out seven. Just as impressively, he never hit or walked an opposing hitter. Only five Eagles reached scoring position all afternoon, and the righty made sure that the goose egg on the scoreboard remained intact by forcing Winthrop to go 0-for-5 in that situation.

In his first collegiate start, Bet was unfazed by the limelight and fired six scoreless innings against Duke on March 5. The Blue Devils managed only two hits against the junior, and Bet at one point sat down 10 consecutive hitters. Duke's best chance to get on the board came with two on and no one out in the fifth inning, but a tailor-made double play followed by a soft grounder got Bet out of the frame without a scratch. With two appearances so far this season, Bet's ERA stands at a mere 1.00.

100/100 Club
Spencer Branigan celebrated his 100th career start (109th overall appearance) on Sunday in a big way. The senior captain and first baseman went 3-for-4 at the plate, collected one RBI and scored Penn's other run on the day in a 5-2 loss to Winthrop. His first hit of the afternoon was a RBI single to right field in the second inning that scored Bossart from second base and momentarily tied the score at 1-1. As it turned out, that proved to be the 100th hit of Branigan's career. Now with 102 hits, Branigan is Penn's active hits leader. Junior Brandon Engelhardt is second on the team with 90 hits in two-plus years wearing the Red and Blue.

Bossart on the Watch List
It was announced on March 11 that Bossart was one of 48 catchers across the country to make the initial Johnny Bench Award Watch List. The Johnny Bench Award is given annually to the top Division I catcher in the nation. An honorable mention All-Ivy pick last season as a freshman, Bossart is one of three team captains in 2013 and a leader on both offense and defense. Making eight starts behind the plate and playing in all nine contests this season, Bossart is batting .324 with four doubles and a triple. Though catchers aren't always known for their speed, he is also 3-for-4 in stolen base attempts. Defensively, the strong-armed sophomore has thrown out seven runners while only giving up six stolen bags.

About Towson
Like Penn, Towson sought out warmer climes in the early portion of the season and began the year 4-0 in Louisiana. Since then, the Tigers have dropped six of nine and stand at 7-6 on the season. The two teams share a common opponent as Towson paid Duke a visit just before Penn arrived in Durham last week. The Tigers took 9-3 and 6-5 decisions off the Blue Devils, before losing 8-6 in the finale.

Junior outfielder Dominic Fratantuono has started all 13 games for Towson this season and has put together a .358 average with three doubles and two home runs. He's also one of three players tied for the team lead with four stolen bases. Senior Andrew Parker bats .265 but 11 of his 13 hits this season are for extra bases, including a team-high four home runs. Three pitchers have combined for 12 of 13 starts on the hill for the Tigers this season, but Penn is unlikely to face any of them in a midweek game. If Towson throws by committee, the possible starter could be freshman Kevin Ross. Ross has started one game this year and holds a 4.91 ERA in two appearances. Senior Mike Ryan leads the way with six appearances and has gone 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA.

About George Washington
The Colonials may have been playing different schools, but their season started much as Penn's did; with trips though North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. GW began the year against Davidson, USC-Upstate and Virginia and had a 0-6 record to show for it. Things got as bad as 0-9 before they recovered last weekend with an impressive 3-1 record in a pair of doubleheaders against visiting Cornell, last year's Ivy League champions. Coincidentally, Towson and George Washington will play each other on Tuesday prior to Penn's game with the Tigers on Wednesday.

Much of the blame for George Washington's 3-10 start has to be placed on the offense. Through 13 contests, the Colonials are hitting exactly at the Mendoza Line as a team, going 77-for-385 at the plate (.200). Brookes Townsend leads the group of regular starters with a .256 average and a pair of doubles. Though the order hasn't been determined, Penn is almost guaranteed to see Aaron Weisberg (1-2, 3.57 ERA), Max Kaplow (0-3, 3.91 ERA) and Luke Staub (1-2, 4.22 ERA) over the course of the weekend. Those three have made 11 of GW's 13 starts this season. Danny O'Donnell has made the other two starts on the year for the Colonials, but has only gone 3.2 innings and carries an ERA of 22.09.