PHILADELPHIA - It will not feel like spring when the University of Pennsylvania baseball team arrives in Hanover, N.H. on Saturday to face Dartmouth. Nor will it feel much warmer in Cambridge, Mass. on Sunday, but the Quakers know that both sets of doubleheaders are crucial to their Ivy Championship hopes.
Penn is off to a good start in Ivy play, holding a 3-1 record after a split with Brown last weekend and an impressive sweep of Yale, ending with a 19-3 win in which the Quakers blasted a program-record six home runs.
The Quakers used the momentum from last weekend to pick up a 6-5 win over Lafayette on Tuesday in the Liberty Bell Classic. Penn's bats got off to a good start and rallied again late to allow the Quakers to hang on for a tight win. Adam Bleday made his fourth start and picked up his first win of the season. Bleday pitched five innings and allowed just one unearned run on two hits. Ryan Mincher watched his average climb even higher with a 2-for-4 day, and Jake Nelson earned his third save of the season. Nelson came in in the ninth with the bases loaded and no one out in a 6-3 game and secured the 6-5 win.
MINCHER MASHING AGAIN: It was not an easy start to the season for senior Ryan Mincher. Penn's shortstop was battling just .127 through the first 16 games of the season after hitting .328 in 2015, but now rides a five-game hit streak. Beginning on Saturday against Brown, Mincher is 7-for-18 with two home runs, a double, four RBIs and multi-hit games in his last two outings. Mincher has raised his average by 70 points to .197 over the last week.
LEADING THE WAY: Penn has a player at the top of the Ivy League in a number of categories, beginning with leadoff man, Gary Tesch. Tesch leads the league in average (.376), hits (32), runs (18), and is third in stolen bases (7). Joining him at the top of the charts is Matt Greskoff, who is tied for the Ivy lead in home runs with four. Near the top in doubles is Tim Graul with nine, one off the pace. Graul and Greskoff are both tied for fifth in the Ancient Eight in RBIs with 15. A formiable freshman due, Matt Tola (346) and Matt O'Neill (.338) are fifth and sixth in the conference in average.
It's not just the hitters who are enjoying their seasons. Leftie Gabe Kleiman is first in ERA at 2.20. Kleiman is 2-1 and will start on Saturday against Harvard. Billy Lescher will also start against Harvard, he is the Ivy League leader in wins with four. Finally, another freshman showing he belongs early in his career, Jake Nelson has three saves, good for the most in the conference.
As a team, the Quakers have the best average (.267), most home runs (15), most RBIs (100), and the most runs (110) of any school in the Ivy League. The Quakers are second in ERA as a staff at 4.03, but lead in strikeouts with 156.
SCOUTING DARTMOUTH: It's been a rough start for the New Hampshire dwelling Ivy Leaguers. The Big Green are 6-16 and 0-2 in the Ivy League after getting swept by Princeton. Dartmouth was forced to postpone two games with Cornell last Sunday due to weather concerns. The bats may be to blame for the Big Green's struggles, they are tied with Princeton for the worst average in the conference at .233 and have scored just 66 runs and hit just 7 home runs in 2016, which are also last.
Fourth in the league in ERA, Dartmouth has been bitten by the long ball. The Big Green have allowed 23 home runs this season, five more than any other team in the Ivy League. Don't tell Duncan Robinson about their struggles however. The Dartmouth ace leads the Ivy League in stirkeouts with 36.
SCOUTING HARVARD: At 7-15 and 0-4 in the Ivy League, Harvard will try and get back on track against Penn. The Crimson have lost six straight games, with losses to Holy Cross, sweeps in doubleheaders by Cornell and Princeton and a mid-week loss to Northeastern in the Beanpot First Round. Harvard is fourth in the league in hitting as a team at .251, but leads the circuit in doubles with 48. The Crimson also possess the Ivy League leader in RBIs, John Fallon who has 20.
On the mound, Harvard is fifth in ERA at 5.73, but have done well to keep the ball in the ballpark, surrendering just 10 home runs.