Baseball Defeats Maine After Rally Against Air Force Falls Short

Penn vs. Maine Box Score

Penn vs. Air Force Box Score

BOCA RATON – It took a while, but the Penn bats finally woke up this afternoon as the Quakers scored 19 runs over the course of two games – splitting a pair against Air Force (9-8 loss) and Maine (11-3 win). The win over the Black Bears is the first of the year for Penn and brings its record to 1-3.

While the day started with a loss to Air Force, the momentum from a “close but no cigar” rally against the Falcons definitely carried over to the second game for Penn. The Quakers scored six runs over the final two innings against Air Force to close within one, 9-8, before taking the loss.

In the second game, Penn wasted no time making sure there was no need for late inning heroics.

It was nice to have a comeback in the first game and get a little offensive momentum,” head coach John Cole said. “We established ourselves with pressure early against Maine and kept attacking.”

In the bottom of the first, Jeremy Maas reached when the first baseman couldn’t handle the throw from the shortstop, getting all the way to second on a ball not hit out of the infield. Steve Gable followed with a perfect drag bunt to set up men at the corners. Kyle Armeny singled to left field to score Maas. Matt Toffaletti singled to right, scoring Gable. A double-play from Tom Grandieri ended the inning, but the Quakers were alive with confidence after carrying the offensive output over from the end of the first game.

After Todd Roth worked around a hit batsmen and an error in the second to escape the jam, the Quakers exploded for their highest one-inning offensive explosion of the young season with a six-pack of runs in their half of the second inning.

Dan Williams started things off with a single. Will Davis followed with a walk. Adrian Lorenzo also walked, loading the bases with no outs. Maas singled to left to score two runs. A wild pitch from Justin Latta scored Lorenzo from third. Gable followed with a base hit that scored Maas. Gable then stole second and reached third on Latta’s second wild pitch of the inning. Armeny drove Gable home with a ground-rule double to deep right-center. That was the end for Latta, as Alejandro Balsinde was brought in from the bullpen. Toffaletti welcomed him rudely with a double of his own, plating Armeny to give Penn an 8-0 lead.

The Quakers added on in the third with a pair of runs. Maas drove in a run with a groundout and Gable added to his totals with a single down the right-field line that scored Lorenzo.

The Red and Blue added their final run of the game on a sacrifice fly from Lorenzo in the fifth inning. He popped up to shallow left field and the shortstop and left fielder collided while making the play. The ball came down in the glove of the shortstop, but both men were hurt. Williams was able to tag on the play – officially a sac fly to short.

The Black Bears were able to score a few back in the top of the sixth when they connected for three-straight doubles off Roth. After allowing the pair of runs, Roth shut down Maine, striking out the next two batters, sandwiched around a caught stealing at third base by Will Davis.

Maine’s final run of the game came in the seventh when Billy Cather homered to right-center. Roth again escaped further damage as he ended the inning with a strikeout – his ninth and final of the game.

Toffaletti came in to pitch the final two innings, striking out four – including all three batters he faced in the ninth – and allowing only one hit. Not bad considering it was his first time pitching in a Penn uniform. Even better when coupled with his 2-for-5 with two RBI performance at the plate against Maine. When you factor in that he also was 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored against Air Force – that is one superb day.

Another great day was the one had by Gable. The second baseman played all 18 innings and was 6-for-8 with four runs and two RBI.

“Gable and Toffaletti had great outings today,” Cole said. “Steve had some pop in his bat and we needed that. We recruited Matt to do both (hitting and pitching) and this is his role. When he DHs, that protects his arm and keeps him fresh.”

Cole was also quick to credit some of his freshmen who had good days.

“It is nice to get freshmen in at the right time and see where they are in a pressure situation,” he said. “Mike Mariano had a great pinch hit for us against Air Force and Will Davis did a good job catching Todd and throwing the guy out.”

The win in the nightcap may have helped ease some of the pain of the rally against Air Force that fell just short.

The Quakers entered the top of the eighth inning trailing Air Force, 9-2. Penn plated two runs in the eights to close the gap. After Anthony Aruffo shutdown the Falcons in the bottom of the eighth, Penn came to bat in the last inning hungry to tie the game. Steve Gable led off the inning with a single to center. William Gordon followed with a double down the left field line. Kyle Armeny drove in Gable with a sacrifice fly to center. Matt Toffaletti re-ignited the rally with a single to left. Tom Grandieri came up with Penn's fourth hit of the inning - a single to left that scored Gordon. Freshman Mike Mariano pinch hit for Adrian Lorenzo, and in his first collegiate at-bat, Mariano singled to left to score Toffaletti. With two outs, Will Davis singled to right to score Grandieri. With runners on the corners and two outs, Reid Terry ground out to third to end the game.

Penn plays again on Monday, taking on UConn at 2 p.m.