NEW YORK – In what amounted to a fifth and deciding game in a best of five series between the University of Pennsylvania baseball team and Columbia, the Quakers were defeated, 4-2, in the Ivy League Gehrig Division playoff game Saturday afternoon.
Penn (22-15, 16-4 Ivy) and Columbia (27-14, 16-4 Ivy) faced one another in the playoff game after finishing the season tied atop the Gehrig Division at 16-4. The Quakers and Lions split their regular season series, two games apiece, just a weekend ago. With the victory, Columbia will move on to face Dartmouth in the Ivy League Championship Series next weekend.
On Saturday, Penn would be forced to battle back after surrendering two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Columbia scored quickly off the Quakers starter, senior left-handed pitcher Ronnie Glenn, with a leadoff solo home run and a RBI sacrifice fly in the first.
Penn did battle back, tying the game in the top of the third inning. Senior first baseman Matt McKinnon and junior outfielder Gary Tesch led off the inning with back-to-back singles, followed by a Columbia balk, moving the runnersto second and third with no one out. Senior outfielder Connor Betbeze and senior catcher Austin Bossart both followed with RBI groundouts, making it a 2-2 game.
It would remain deadlocked for three innings, though Penn had the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, after singles by Bossart and senior Mitch Montaldo, followed bya walk from junior Ryan Mincher. The Quakers were unable to push a run across, and wouldn’t threaten again in the game.
Coming on in relief of Glenn in the second inning sophomore left-handed pitcher Mike Reitcheck had settled the Quakers and held Columbia in check, until the bottom of the seventh inning, when the Lions took the lead on a solo home run to center field that just cleared the fence, making it 3-2, with one out.
Penn would then turn to sophomore right-handed pitcher Jake Cousins, who came on to get a groundout and strikeout, ending the inning. Reitcheck (5-3) threw 5.0 innings, allowing just two hits and one run, while striking out four.
In the eighth inning, Columbia would strike once more with another solo home run that barely snuck over the fence, this time to left field, making it 4-2. Penn went down in order in the ninth, to end the game.
The Quakers finished the season with a 22-15 record and a 16-4 Ivy League mark. The 16 wins in Ivy play are the most ever in a season for Penn, one better than the 15 the Quakers recorded in 2014 and 1989.