PHILADELPHIA - Three games back of the Princeton Tigers in the Gehrid Division, the University of Pennsylvania baseball team will host Cornell for a pair of doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. Penn has eight games remaining on its Ivy schedule, four against the Big Red and four against Columbia and will need a good showing for a shot at playing in the Ivy League Championship Series.
On Tuesday, the Quakers started their week on the right foot with a 7-3 win over Big Five Rival La Salle. Penn used home runs from Tim Graul and Daniel Halevy and a two-run double from Matt O'Neill to power past the Explorers. Graul went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, Halevy went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and O'Neill went 1-for-3 knocking in a pair... Adam Bleday picked up his second win in relief, pitching the end of the forth to the seventh and allowing just one base runner, who he later picked off.
SCOUTING CORNELL: In a similar situation to the Quakers, Cornell will need a great showing over the last two weeks to earn a shot at the Rolfe Division winner in the championship series. The Big Red are in third place in the Gehrig Division at 5-7 and are 12-16 overall for 2016. It hasn't been an easy week already for the Ivy Leaguers of Ithaca, losing both games of a doubleheader to Dartmouth on Wednesday. Those games were a make up for a twin bill that was postponed due to freezing temperatures in the Ivy League's first week. Cornell currently sports the worst batting average in the Ivy League at .246 as a team. They have also struggled to produce extra-base hits that stay in the ballpark recording a league-low 38 doubles, but sit in second in home runs with 18. The Big Red arms have also struggled this year, with a seventh ranked ERA of 5.94 as a staff, but have kept their opponents from hitting home runs with just 10 allowed in 28 games.
LAST TIME OUT AGAINST CORNELL: Penn took three of four game from the Big Red in Ithaca last season, scoring 22 runs on day one, before scratching out a 5-4 win on day two's second game. Winning the series, Penn (15-11, 10-2 Ivy) stayed even with Columbia at the top of the Gehrig Division.
LEADING THE WAY:Penn leads the Ivy League in batting average at .264, home runs with 25, hits with 292, and stolen base percentage at 89.7 percent. Individually, Penn has three players tied for first in home runs with five. Tim Graul, Ryan Mincher, and Matt Greskoff have all hit five round-trippers, with Graul joining the leaders with his home run on Tuesday against the Explorers.
On the mound, Penn has the best ERA in the Ancient Eight at 3.84. Gabe Kleiman is tied for the best mark in the conference with a 2.25 ERA. Freshman Jake Nelson paces the Ivy League in saves with five.
RYAN MINCHER, YOU'RE MY HERO!: For his 3-for-4 performance with a home run, five RBIs, and three runs scored against Dartmouth, Ryan Mincher was voted the "Hero of the Week" by HeroSports.com. Mincher won the fan vote with over 90 percent of the selections. Mincher has been on a tear lately, doubling his average in the last 15 games. The senior shortstop has hit in nine consecutive games and 14 of his last 15. He has also homered four times and driven in 15 runs during that span.
FUN WEEKEND AHEAD: Saturday's game will not only be a dollar dog day, but Smitty from Barstool Sports Philadelphia will also be in attendance to greet the fans. Smitty will be hosting a home run derby against four lucky fans at 9 a.m.
WORLD WIDE LEADER IN SPORTS: Sunday's doubleheader against the Big Red will be shown on ESPN 3, marking the first time Penn baseball has ever hosted an ESPN 3 broadcast.