TOWSON, MD. - The University of Pennsylvania baseball team never trailed during Wednesday afternoon's game against Towson, but that doesn't mean things didn't get interesting. A three-run first inning put the Quakers in the driver's seat for much of the way, but the Tigers rallied to tie the score by the fifth inning. After Penn again took the lead, Towson came back for once more in the bottom of the ninth inning before Ronnie Glenn could preserve the win thanks to some outstanding defense and pick up his third save of the season. With the win, the Quakers improve to 5-5 on the season.
It just wasn't Towson starter Sean Bertrand's day. Though he struck out the first two hitters he faced on the afternoon, he walked or hit the next three batters to load the bases. A single into left field from Spencer Branigan plated two and Penn wasn't done yet. A walk reloaded the bases before the Tigers moved into their bullpen, going with Kyle Paul. The first batter he faced, Ryan Mincher, knocked a single into center field to make it 3-0, but the inning ended on the play as Branigan was tagged out trying to make it home.
Pat Bet got the start on the mound for Penn on a day when a lot of arms got some work in. Bet worked a perfect first inning, striking out one in his only action. He gave way to Brian Schwarzbach. The freshman had some difficulty early, recording the first out of the inning but then loading the bags with one away. An error by Mincher brought one run home and Towson cut the Penn lead down to 3-2 after a RBI groundout.
The score stayed there until the bottom of the fifth. Schwarzbach was solid through the third and fourth frames before a couple stray pitches proved to be his undoing. After retiring the first two hitters of the Towson fifth, Zach Fisher drew a walk. Though innocuous at the time, he then advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a single by Dominic Fratantuono.
The Quakers were quick to respond in the top half of the sixth, claiming the lead again as Branigan and Mitch Montaldo hit a single and double consecutively to put two men on with one away. Mincher gave Penn the lead back with a roller to second base that had Branigan moving on contact. His run made it 4-3.
The bullpen was back to work to begin the sixth inning. Mitch Holtz, Jeff McGarry and Montaldo all combined to throw three scoreless innings against the Tigers. It was mostly a good day by everyone out of the pen, but Holtz did get some timely defense by Branigan. With the bases loaded in the sixth and one down, a screamer to first was gloved by the senior captain who completed the double play unassisted by running to the bag. Penn added a bit of insurance with another Mincher RBI - his third of the day - in the top of the eighth. The Quakers took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning with the closer, Glenn, coming in.
A lead-off single by Pat Fitzgerald was followed by a one-out single from Brandon Gonnella. Glenn came right back to whiff Andrew Parker for the second out, but Fratantuono singled between short and third to bring one run around and put the tying run in scoring position. A fly ball into center field from Kurt Wertz made Gary Tesch come in on the run, but the freshman showed great poise with a diving catch that ended the ballgame.
Branigan continued to swing well, putting together a 2-for-3 day at the plate with two runs batted in. Ryan Deitrich added yet another multi-hit game, his fourth of the year, with a 2-for-4 outing plus a walk. The senior right fielder has had at least one hit in every game this season.
After 10 straight on the road to open the season, Penn hosts Opening Day at Meiklejohn Stadium on Saturday with a doubleheader against the George Washington Colonials. First pitch is set for 12 p.m., with the second game to follow at approximately 3 p.m.