PHILADELPHIA Penn has a mid-week doubleheader on the docket today with Lehigh at Meiklejohn Stadium starting at 1 p.m. The Quakers are hoping to carry over the energy they brought to the diamond on Sunday in a sweep of Princeton in New Jersey.
The pair of wins over the Tigers kept the Red and Blue in the pennant race. They now trail Gehrig Division leader, Columbia, by 4.5 games with a week to go in the season. Penn will play the Lions in a four-game series over the weekend. A Quaker sweep will require that Penn finish the game with Yale that is currently suspended with the score tied, 9-9, after 11 innings of play. Princeton is also in the mix as they are ahead of Penn in the standings. The Quakers need Princeton to lose three times this weekend to Cornell to help their own chances. The Red and Blue will need to benefit from a “perfect storm” to defend their division crown from 2007, but in baseball stranger things have happened.
First things first, however, as the Quakers will look to curtail their recent mid-week blues. Penn has dropped its last two mid-week games, both to Big 5 rivals. Two weeks ago, Villanova put up 16 runs in a 16-2 win. Last week, Penn hosted La Salle and watched as the Explorers opened up a six-run sixth inning all unearned en route to an 8-2 win. While the Tuesday and Wednesday games usually feature pitching-by-committee in an attempt to keep the arms loose and ready heading into the weekend conference games, the goal is to stick to the schedule and not require emergency bullpen calls as has happened the last two weeks.
The situation could be especially difficult today as Penn prepares for a doubleheader. With freshman Jeremy Maas still nursing a sore elbow, the staff is already down a member. Look for one or two pitchers to shoulder the load early and throw multiple innings.
Beyond sophomore Todd Roth, who pitched six innings of one-hit ball on Saturday in a tough-luck, 1-0 loss, two names to keep an eye on are Andy Console and Robbie Seymour. Console pitched in both games on Sunday at Princeton, throwing four total innings and allowing just two runs. He picked up the win in game two. If Console takes the hill today, he will look to improve upon his last outing against the Mountain Hawks. When these two teams met earlier this season in Florida during their spring trips, Console started and lasted 4.2 innings. He allowed 4 runs (only one earned) on four hits and six walks. In the last two weeks, he has pitched his best innings of the season, dropping his ERA from 4.70 to 3.99.
Seymour’s turnaround has been even more remarkable. After allowing 19 earned runs over his first four appearances (a span that covered six innings), he has pitched 18.1 innings and given up only five earned runs. He made his first start of the season on Sunday and went 6.2 innings allowing three runs and left with the game tied, giving Penn a chance for the win it ultimately picked up on a Dan Williams two-run homer.
Speaking of Williams, the freshman shortstop has been on fire of late. He is in the midst of a nine-game hitting streak and has picked up at least one hit in 15 of his last 17 games. He also has driven in at least one run in six of his last eight games.
Michael Gatti has played stellar defense in center field, committing only one error in 50 chances.
Both games today against Lehigh can be viewed via live stats at www.pennathletics.com.