Baseball Hosts Lafayette in Liberty Bell Classic Opener

PHILADELPHIA – After having its weekend series against Mount St. Mary’s moved to Meiklejohn Stadium due to “unplayable conditions” in Maryland, Penn will again have a scheduled road game changed to a home contest. The Quakers were set to play in Easton, Pa. at Lafayette on Tuesday in a first round game in the 2008 Liberty Bell Classic. However, Lafayette’s Class of 1978 Stadium has also suffered from “unplayable conditions” and now the Quakers will have home field advantage.

The Liberty Bell Classic is an annual tournament featuring eight colleges and universities from across Pennsylvania and Delaware. In addition to Penn and Lafayette, Temple, Villanova, LaSalle, Saint Joseph’s, Delaware and Lehigh make up the tournament’s field. The Classic’s format is single-elimination with four first round games and then two semifinals. The championship game is played at Citizens Bank Park – the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

In the 16-year history of the Liberty Bell Classic, Penn has never won the championship. Last season, Lafayette was the winner, defeating Lehigh, 7-3, in the final. Delaware has the most titles with six.

The Quakers enter the game with an even 6-6 record. Last weekend, Penn took three of four games against Mount St. Mary’s. All three of Penn’s wins against The Mount were come-from-behind victories.

After averaging only 3.2 runs per game over the first six contests of the season, Penn has averaged nearly 4.6 runs over the last six games. On the flip side, Penn has gone from allowing an average of 8.8 runs a game over the first half-dozen games to just 3.3 over the most recent six. It is no coincidence that over the last six, Penn is 5-1 with the only blemish a 4-3 loss in extra innings in the final game of the series against Mount St. Mary’s.

The Quakers have started to pitch more aggressively while bring the same pressure to the plate as well over the last stretch of games.

Over the season-opening stretch where Penn started 1-5, Quaker pitchers allowed a total of 40 walks – an average of 6.7 a game. In the six games since, Penn has allowed only 22 total walks – which equals 3.7 a game.

Penn only recorded double-digits in hits in two games prior to March 15. Quaker hitters have started to get the bat on the ball more frequently over the last week. They have had at least ten hits in five of the last six games – including a season-high 18 against NJIT in a 12-1 win. Penn’s team batting average has jumped from .222 over the first six games to .292 as of today.

Lafayette enters the game with a 9-6 record, fresh off a 2-1 weekend against Delaware in Newark. The Leopards won 10-7 on 3/20 before splitting a pair (winning 12-7 and losing 15-2) on 3/21.

The 2007 Patriot League Champions biggest threat may be their speed on the base paths. The Leopards have stolen 33 bases this season – an average of 2.2 a game. Chris Luick leads the team with seven swipes in eight attempts. Four other players have at least four stolen bases.

Joe Ezekiel provides offensive power for Lafayette. He leads the team in home runs (three) and RBI (15).

On the mound, the Leopards are as deep a team as you can find. Five pitchers have started a game this season and seven hurlers have picked up at least one win.

Due to the late switch in venue, Penn Athletics is still putting together the broadcast capabilities of the game. Live stats will be provided via Gametracker at www.PennAthletics.com.