PHILADELPHIA – Winning 12 of their last 13, and 14 of their last 16, including a span of 11-straight games, the University of Pennsylvania faces its most challenging weekend to date as the Quakers host Ivy League divisional rival Cornell in a four-game series this weekend at Meiklejohn Stadium.
Penn (16-11, 8-0 Ivy) is playing some of its best baseball, as the Big Red (14-11, 5-3 Ivy) come to Philadelphia winners of three-straight games themselves.
Last season in Ithaca, N.Y., Cornell managed to take three of four games from Penn, with the Quakers winning 6-0, before dropping the next three.
Penn and Cornell matchup in doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday, with games beginning at 12 p.m. both days.
SCOUTING CORNELL: At the plate, the Big Red are led by junior Ryan Karl (.298, 9, 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 22 RBI), senior Chris Cruz (.278, 4 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI), and senior Ryan Plantier (.294, 25 H, 4 2B, 13 RBI). On the mound, Cornell sports a team ERA of 3.13, while striking out 155 batters in 204.1 innings pitched. The Big Red have allowed 186 hits, while issuing 81 walks and have hit 28 batters.
IVY LEAGUE WINNING STREAK: Penn has produced its best start, 8-0, in the Ivy League in program history. The Quakers started 10-0 in league play in 1989, in what was then the Eastern Intercollegiate Baseball League (EIBL). Penn and the other Ivy League teams participated in the EIBL from 1930 to 1992. That league included Army and Navy. Beginning in 1993, the eight League schools have competed in an Ivy-only conference schedule. The 8-0 start in league play is the best by an Ivy school since Dartmouth in 2009. The Big Green started 11-0, finishing the season with a 16-4 league record and winning the championships series over Cornell.
PENN AT HOME IN MEIKLEJOHN: The Quakers boast an 8-1 home record at Meiklejohn Stadium, entering the weekend series with Cornell. Penn’s only loss has been a 13-inning, 4-2, decision versus Saint Joseph’s this past Tuesday in the Liberty Bell Classic. Penn is hitting .288 as a team, scoring 55 runs, with 34 extra base hits, at home, including 12 home runs. On the mound, the Red and Blue have a 2.51 ERA, with 76 strikeouts in 79.0 innings pitched.
QUAKERS NATIONAL TEAM OF THE WEEK: Penn was named CollegeBaseballInsider.com’s Louisville Slugger national team of the week on April 8, after going 9-0 since March 31. During that span the Quakers swept league games against Yale, Brown, Harvard, and Dartmouth, and also defeating Lafayette in a non-conference game.
IVY LEAGUE WEEKLY HONORS: The Quakers have won three-straight Ivy League Players of the Week, beginning with sophomore Gary Tesch, who won the award for the week ending March 23. Tesch hit .462, with a double and home run, while driving in four runs during the week. Senior outfielder Rick Brebner would go on to win the award the following two weeks. In the two weeks, the Quakers plaed ten games, and the Langhorne, Pa. native went 17-for-42 (.405), with four doubles, one triple, six home runs, and 21 RBI. Brebner also became the only player in Penn history to win the award back-to-back.
BIG 5 WEEKLY HONORS: Rick Brebner was named Big 5 Player of the Week for this past week, along with junior right-handed pitcher Connor Cuff being name Big 5 Co-Pitcher of the Week. Brebner, kept up his torrid pace at the plate, totaling 11 RBIs in five games, while also scoring eight runs. The senior has hit four of his Ivy League leading seven home runs in the past five games, and has a slugging percentage of 1.150. Cuff picked up his third win of the season at Dartmouth on Sunday in a 4-0 game. He scattered five Big Green hits, while allowing no runs, walking one, and striking out five. Cuff improved his overall season record to 3-1 and has posted a 1.12 ERA in 40.1 innings pitched.
TOTALING UP THE 11-GAME WINNING STREAK: The 11 straight wins for Penn was its longest winning streak since 1989, when the Red and Blue put together 19 straight wins en route to a league championship and NCAA regional appearance. Offensively during the 11-game winning streak, Penn hit .332 as a team with seven games of double-digit hits, including a season-high 18 at Villanova (3/27). The Quakers produced 42 extra base hits in that span, with 26 doubles, four triples, and 12 home runs. They outscored opponents 84-40, and had 75 RBI. On the mound in those 11 games, Penn had a team ERA of 2.47, while striking out 63 opposing batters in 91.0 innings. Six different Quaker pitchers recorded victories during the win streak; Jack Hartman (2), Jake Cousins (3), Dan Gautieri (2), Connor Cuff (2), Jeremy Witt, and Ronnie Glenn. Freshman left-handed reliever Mike Reitcheck had three saves.
PENN POWER NUMBERS: Penn has remained in the top-10 nationally in home runs per game consistently throughout the 2014 season. Currently, the Quakers are ranked sixth in the country averaging 1.07 round-trippers per game (29 total home runs). Leading the nation is Louisiana-Lafayette who has hit 45 home runs in 35 games for a 1.29 average.