WILLIAMSBURG, VA. - A big third inning from the University of Pennsylvania baseball team gave them a momentary 4-2 lead in the season opener at William & Mary on Friday night from Plumeri Park. But that lead would only last a matter of minutes as Willie Shaw's second home run of the ballgame put the Tribe back in the lead, and the Quakers could never make up the difference, falling by a score of 7-5.
Each team had some chances in the early going but William & Mary were the first to break through, scoring twice in the bottom of the second inning. Shaw led off with a lined shot that just cleared the fence down the right field line, staking the Tribe to a 1-0 lead. Ryan Williams followed him with a single and scored after a Jackson Shaver RBI single.
Penn quickly responded in the top of the third inning. Brandon Engelhardt reached on a bunt single to lead off the inning and Mike Vilardo smashed a towering shot out of the park over the scoreboard in left field to tie the game at 2-2. With one away, Ryan Deitrich drew a walk and then moved to third base after Spencer Branigan doubled to the gap in left-center. A passed ball moved each runner up 90 feet and gave the Quakers their first lead, 3-2. With two down, Austin Bossart hit a hard grounder to third baseman Michael Katz' left. Though Katz fielded the ball cleanly, his throw was rushed and couldn't get scooped at first, allowing Branigan in to make it 4-2.
The Tribe didn't waste any time in coming right back at Penn. The first two batters in the bottom of the third inning reached, and Shaw then blasted a three-run homer into right field to put William & Mary back on top, 5-4.
The Quakers offense was quiet through the middle innings while the Tribe tacked on runs in the fourth and sixth to take a 7-4 lead. A lead-off walk from Rick Brebner got things moving again for Penn. A balk advanced him to second and consecutive groundouts brought him around to score, slashing the deficit to 7-5.
While Penn was attempting to catch up, Pat Bet was doing his part on the mound to keep his team in the game. Making his collegiate debut as a junior, Bet allowed just one run in three innings of work, including a perfect seventh and eighth that quickly got the Quaker bats back up to the plate.
With Mitchell Aker in to close for William & Mary in the ninth, Penn had one last push in them. Vilardo roped a line drive past third, then consecutive walks loaded the bases with just one away. At that point, Aker was able to regain his composure and work his way out of trouble, escaping with his first save and a 7-5 victory.
The teams are back in action tomorrow with a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m. Live stats for each game will once again be available here.