Baseball Looks to Play Spoiler Against Columbia

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The University of Pennsylvania baseball team (22-17, 7-9 Ivy) closes out the 2013 season this weekend with four games against the Columbia Lions (20-19, 12-4 Ivy), with the Friday doubleheader taking place in New York City before the teams journey back to Philadelphia, ending the regular season with two games on Saturday at Meiklejohn Stadium. Both sets of twinbills begin an hour later than usual, with the games getting started at 1 p.m.

Saturday will be Senior Day for the Quakers, with a special pregame ceremony honoring Penn’s Class of 2013: John Beasley, Spencer Branigan and Ryan Deitrich.

Due to the Penn Relays running April 25-27, there will be no audio coverage for the two games at Penn on Saturday.

Last Time Out
A complete game, five-hit shutout from Connor Cuff got Penn started off on the right foot last weekend in a four-game series at Cornell. The sophomore righty struck out six and walked just one, retiring the last seven Big Red hitters in a 6-0 win. Deitrich was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk, and he and Ryan Mincher each drove in two runs in the decisive Quaker victory.

Unfortunately, that turned into the high point of the weekend as the final three contests of the set went Cornell’s way. After Penn tagged Michael Byrne with two hits and a first-inning run in game two of the series, he settled in and didn’t allow a hit for the remainder of his eight innings of action, paving the way for a 4-2 decision. The third game of the series was knotted at 1-1 through two innings until Cornell put two more runs on the board in the home half of the third inning. That was all the help Brian McAfee needed as he shut down the Quakers the rest of the way in a 3-1 pitcher’s duel. The last game of the series was decided early, as the Big Red put two on the board in the first and scored another five runs in the third inning, putting all their runs on the board in the first four frames in an 8-2 win that eliminated Penn from Ivy League postseason contention.

Saturday Parking Info
Due to the large influx of people expected on the Saturday of Penn Relays, parking in the lot nearest to Meiklejohn Stadium will be extremely limited. Fans driving in for Saturday’s doubleheader are encouraged to park at Campus Park and Ride, which will offer a free shuttle to and from its lot to the entrance of River Fields Drive. Please note that cash payments are not accepted and will require a debit or credit card.

Penn Seniors
Though Penn graduates just three members of the 2013 team this year, each has been a vital part of the team’s success both this year and throughout their time with the Quakers.

A native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, John Beasley was a part-time starter for his first three seasons in the Red and Blue before becoming a full-time reliever this season and transforming Penn’s bullpen. Entering the weekend tied for the team lead with 15 appearances this season, Beasley leads the team with an ERA of 1.61, a number that ranks third in the Ivy League in 2013. Opponents are batting less than .200 against the right-hander this season in 28 innings of work and he has struck out 23.

Spencer Branigan came to Penn from Ross, California and quickly established himself as a mainstay in the Quaker line-up, playing in 23 games as a freshman and becoming a full-time starter in the three years since. He will end his time with Penn ranked fifth all-time in program history in doubles and among the top 10 in games played. A first-team All-Ivy selection in 2011, he has started every game this year and ranks in the top 20 in the Ivy League in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

After missing his freshman season with an injury and playing part-time as a sophomore, Ryan Deitrich made the leap and became one of the nation’s elite hitters the past two years. A second-team All-Ivy selection in 2012 after a season in which he batted .350 with 25 extra-base hits, he has become an even tougher out as a senior, batting over. 400 and reaching base in more than half his at-bats. Going into today’s action, Deitrich, a product of Collegeville, Pa., leads the Ivy League in batting average, on-base percentage and hits, while ranking in the top five in eight other offensive categories. A near-lock for first-team All-Ivy honors, he will certainly be in the conversation for Ivy League Player of the Year this season, as well as in the running for other national honors.

On Lockdown
Ronnie Glenn will have a chance to go for the all-time Penn single season saves record this weekend, needing just one to break the tie he already has with Brian Winings, who set the record with eight in 2003. The sophomore southpaw leads the Ivies in saves this year, with only Thomas Olson of Dartmouth within two of him. Opposing hitters have been unable to catch up to him when he dials up the fastball, and his average of 11.78 strikeouts per nine innings is second in the league behind Eddie Fitzpatrick of Brown. His 15 appearances are tied with Beasley for the team lead, and three of the eight saves have required more than three outs. On Tuesday, Glenn was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s (NCBWA) Mid-Season Stopper of the Year Watch List, an award presented annually to the national saves leader along with four other premier relief pitchers.

Besides Beasley and his 28.0 innings of relief, freshman Mitch Holtz has seen the most work of anyone in the bullpen this season. Having thrown 23.0 innings in 12 appearances this season, Holtz has been as effective as anyone on staff. His ERA of 1.96 ranks second on the team, and, with only seventeen hits and six walks to show from his time on the mound, he has put together a team-best WHIP of exactly 1.00. Of those 17 hits, only two have gone for extra bases (both doubles).

Road Warriors
Though playing at home is always preferable, Penn has done a remarkable job on the road this season, compiling a 15-10 record thus far. With two away games left to play, this year’s Quaker squad needs just one victory at Columbia to set the all-time school record for road wins in a season, currently shared by them with the 1975 and 1988 teams.

About Columbia
Despite losing two mid-week contests to Fordham, Columbia enters the weekend knowing that one win is enough to book a spot in next weekend’s Ivy League Championship Series (the Lions hold tiebreakers over both Cornell and Princeton in the event of a tie). Aaron Silbar leads the team in batting average (.316) in 38 starts with nine doubles. Alex Black follows closely behind at .310 and paces the Lions with six home runs. Jordan Serena is fourth on the team with a .284 average but leads the Ivy League with 26 bases in 27 attempts.

The Columbia rotation is led by David Speer, who comes in at 5-2 with a 1.73 ERA. In six starts, Joey Donino has compiled a 5-0 mark with a 3.00 ERA, leading the team in strikeouts with 51. Tim Giel (2-3, 2.96) and Adam Cline (3-3, 4.31) round out the weekend starters. The bullpen features four relievers who have made at least 10 appearances and have ERAs of less than 3.50. Mike Weisman struggled on Wednesday against Fordham, but has a 1.93 ERA in 18.2 innings. Kevin Roy is close behind, coming in at 1-1 with a 2.14 ERA in 21.0 innings of work.

Download: 2013 Mid-season SOY watch list.pdf