BETHLEHEM, PA. – The University of Pennsylvania baseball team (21-14, 6-6 Ivy) was looking to fine-tune its offense in the last non-conference game of the season.
Utilizing three home runs as part of an effort that saw the team smack seven extra-base hits, the Quakers smoked Lehigh (18-20, 5-7 Patriot) by a score of 13-2 on Wednesday afternoon, setting a season high in runs scored.
Of all the impressive performances that Penn received at the plate, the biggest contributor was no doubt Rick Brebner. The junior wasted no time getting started out of the clean-up spot in the order, hitting a first inning single to drive in Brandon Engelhardt for a 1-0 lead. Next up was Austin Bossart, who lofted his third home run in a week out and over the wall in left field to make it a 4-0 game, staking Quaker starter Cody Thomson to an immediate 4-0 lead that he would make hold up as he improved to 2-2 on the season.
Though Penn committed in three errors in the game, the defense was up to the challenge at important points in the contest, turning three double plays as well. With Lehigh trying to work its way back into the contest with two on and no one out in the first inning, Thomson got Tyler Brong to ground to Mitch Montaldo at third base, who started the 5-4-3 double play that effectively ended the Mountain Hawk threat.
Some sloppy play was the culprit as the Red and Blue upped their lead in the third inning. Spencer Branigan and Ryan Mincher each singled to start the inning off, and a passed ball and wild pitch allowed Branigan to score to make it a 5-0 game.
With Lehigh going to its third pitcher of the game to start the fourth inning, the Quakers got the offense in gear once more. Ryan Deitrich was hit by a pitch to reach base to start the frame, and Brebner followed him with a two-run shot to right field, making it 7-0. Penn would later load the bases in the inning and Mike Vilardo would deliver a two-run single, chasing reliever Jordan Smith from the contest and staking the Quakers to a 9-0 lead.
Penn followed a similar script in the fifth inning. Deitrich was walked to lead off the inning this time around, and Brebner again crushed a home run – his second of the day and fourth of the season – to extend the edge to double digits, 11-0. Lehigh got on the board with an unearned run in the bottom of the inning, but Penn tacked on another in the top of the sixth. Montaldo was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, then stole second and advanced to third base on a Mountain Hawk error. Vilardo ended his at-bat with a foul out to right field, but Montaldo wisely was tagging on the play and came in to make it a 12-1 lead.
Thomson was lifted after the sixth inning with the game well in hand at 12-2. The final Quaker run came in the seventh as Brebner led off with a double, his fourth hit of the game. Mincher brought him in to score with a two-out single. Mitch Holtz, Brian Schwarzbach and Jeff McGarry ended the game by combining for three scoreless innings of mop-up work.
Brebner ended his day at 4-for-5 with five runs driven in and four runs scored. He was far from the only player to have a big afternoon though. The foursome of Vilardo, Bossart, Branigan and Mincher had two hits apiece, with Vilardo and Bossart each driving in a pair.
All of Penn’s final eight games this season are now against Ivy League competition. The stretch run begins this weekend as the Quakers travel north to Ithaca, N.Y. to begin a four-game set with the defending Ivy League champion Cornell Big Red. First pitch for each pair of doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday is set for 12 p.m.
Download: Penn-Lehigh Box.pdf