PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania baseball team was stifled by La Salle starting pitcher Matt Williams and suffered through five scoreless innings on Wednesday, but the Explorers went to their bullpen in the sixth inning and that’s when the Quaker offense awoke. A two-run home run from Ryan Deitrich broke a streak of 15 innings without a run and ignited Penn (19-11, 5-3 Ivy) to a 5-3 win at La Salle’s Hank DeVincent Field.
Both Williams and Penn starting pitcher Cody Thomson never gave either offense much to work with. The Quakers managed only two hits in five innings before La Salle went to the pen. On the flip side, Thomson was effective in limiting the Explorers to only one run in 5.1 innings. La Salle opened the second inning with a single and a double, and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly before Penn got out of the frame down only one.
Mitch Montaldo drew a walk to open the sixth inning and reached third with two down in La Salle’s first foray into the bullpen. Choosing to pitch to Deitrich, reliever Dominic Sgroi paid for the decision as the Quaker senior blasted his eighth career extra-base hit against the Explorers over the fence in left field for a 2-1 lead.
That lead proved temporary as La Salle battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Justin Korenblatt singled with one down and was brought home by a Williams double after he remained in the game in the designated hitter role. Mitch Holtz ended the inning with men on second and third to keep the game deadlocked at 2-2.
Facing Tom Fazzini to open the seventh inning, Austin Bossart immediately tripled into La Salle’s cavernous center field. Ryan Mincher followed and went with the pitch, blooping a ball over the head of the second baseman and into right to give the Red and Blue the lead back once again at 3-2. Penn used its speed to tack on another run before La Salle could end the rally. Montaldo grounded out for the first out of the inning, but Mincher moved to second. Gary Tesch then bunted for a base hit and Mincher hustled in on a Connor Betbeze suicide squeeze.
Back up to the dish an inning later, Bossart showed off some impressive wheels to collect his first career home run. After Joey Greco and Spencer Branigan had hit long flyouts against Joey Ravert to open the eighth, Bossart again connected on a deep fly into center. This time, the ball landed to the right of George Smith, Jr., who laid out to try to make the snag. It then caromed off the fence and away from Smith, who had to get up and make the throw from the deepest part of the park. By that time, Bossart was already rounding second and sprinting for third. The throw to the infield landed in the glove of Collin McGowan, but even a perfect relay home wouldn’t have caught the Penn catcher, who scored standing up for an inside the park solo home run that made it 5-2.
The Explorers still had life left in them and scored an unearned run on John Beasley in the eighth, who otherwise gave La Salle very little over 2.0 innings of relief. Beasley retired the first two Explorer batters in the bottom of the ninth and appeared on the verge of slamming the door until La Salle strung together consecutive singles to put runners on the corners. With the winning run coming to the plate, John Cole made one last move, inserting closer Ronnie Glenn into the game. Glenn promptly hit his first batter to load the bases and provide just a little more drama to the proceedings, but ended the game by getting Smith, Jr. to pop out to Mincher for the final out, picking up his seventh save on the season.
Holtz (1-0) took the win, not allowing a hit in 1.1 innings of work out of the bullpen. Deitrich, Bossart, Greco and Rick Brebner all had two hits apiece and combined for eight of Penn’s 10 in the contest.
Ending a stretch of five games on the road with the win, Penn now returns home for a crucial four-game series with the Princeton Tigers (8-20, 5-3 Ivy) this weekend at Meiklejohn Stadium. First pitch for each day of doubleheaders is 12 p.m., and Sunday will be Youth Day at the ballpark, with an appearance from the Phillie Phanatic and free soda and hot dogs for all in attendance.
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